True Lithuania

Lithuanian Song Festivals

Lithuanian Song Festival is the ultimate Lithuanian festival, taking place once in every four years (2018, 2022, 2026...).

During the Lithuanian Song Festival, Lithuanians from all over the country and the Lithuanian diaspora come to Vilnius to sing Lithuanian songs together. The Festival spans over a week, but the final "Day of the Songs" when ~50 000 of the participants march into the purpose-built grandstand in Vilnius Vingis Park for a mass performance is undoubtedly the magical pinnacle of the event.

The Day of the Songs concert with 12 000 participateding official singers on the granstand and four times as many spectators (who also sing). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

There is no actual boundary between a "performer" and a "spectator" in the Song Festival, as everybody is invited to sing together. Foreigners may join in too, as the entire program of the Festival is available online in advance. Typically, the most popular Lithuanian songs are performed, both old and somewhat new, with an emphasis on folk songs and patriotic songs.

During the other days of the festival, Lithuanian folk dances are also practiced.

Lithuanian Song Festivals are taking place since 1924 and became a major part of the Lithuanian cultural identity. They are state sponsored and governed by a special law. Together with similar Latvian and Estonian Song Festivals, the Lithuanian Song Festivals have been inscribed into the UNESCO list of immaterial world heritage.

Singers and dancers of the Lithuanian municipalities and diaspora communities march to the Vingis Park during the Day of the Songs, greeted by locals from the surrounding hills. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

In addition to the major Lithuanian Song Festivals, there are many minor Song-Festival-Inspired events in between them, such as the Junior Song Festival. The Lithuanian Song Festival itself actually grew out of such smaller local 19th-century events when songs used to be a major part of the national identity. While elsewhere in Europe the mass singing events gradually died out in the early 20th century, in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia they achieved a cult status.

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