From the winter fairy tale in Vilnius to the vibrant and summery vibe of the Kaunas Town Hall, this holiday season, Lithuania invites locals and visitors to go ice skating by the Neris river, hitch a ride on the Eastern Express-inspired holiday train, and take a tour through the capital’s gastronomic hotspots.
The holiday season commences all over the globe – and Lithuania is no exception. This year Lithuania is set to surprise locals and visitors alike with three very innovative yet distinct Christmas trees, multiple opportunities for Christmas shopping, and cultural attractions such as a 3D fairytale, screened on the walls of the Vilnius Cathedral.
1. Vilnius Christmas Tree. Repeatedly ranked among the most beautiful in Europe and the world, the main Vilnius Christmas tree, located in Cathedral Square, this year was officially lit on the night of November 27th. The 27-meter eco-friendly Christmas arrangement features 96 large snowflakes, mirrored ice, a shroud of glowing lights, and is crowned by a 6-meter star—a symbol of hope and perseverance. Followed by a greeting word from the Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, the entire ceremony was broadcast live on national television, inviting the locals to make it as safe for everyone as possible.
2. Lithuania’s Christmas Train. The Christmas Train is a new initiative of Vilnius Development and Tourism Agency Go Vilnius and Lithuanian Railways (LTK Link) that creates an opportunity for those living outside of Vilnius to enjoy the Christmas attractions of the capital. The world-renowned Lithuanian clothing designer has decorated the train carriages with antique-looking musical instruments, Christmas trees and is reminiscent of the legendary Eastern Express. The fleet of Christmas trains will take the visitors on routes Kaunas-Vilnius and Klaipėda-Vilnius.
3. Vilnius Christmas Markets. At least three Christmas markets are set to open in Vilnius this year and one of them is a charity market, organized by International Vilnius Women Association (IVFW). Its profits will be donated to organizations taking care of vulnerable social groups. Also, the traditional Christmas town market in the Cathedral Square already greets visitors with hot chocolate, caramelized almonds, freshly-roasted acorn coffee, and other kinds of traditional seasonal treats.
4. Vilnius Christmas Ice Skating Rink. For several years now, the capital has welcomed locals and visitors to skate in the outdoor Christmas ice rink. This year, however, in preparation for unpredictable weather conditions,on November 27 the city has introduced an indoor skating rink, located on the central riverside near the White Bridge. Hosting occasional cultural and sports events, the ice skating space is designed to house 68 visitors. Each skating session, many of which are free of charge, lasts 45 minutes.
5. 3D “Christmas Carol” Screenings in Vilnius. The 3D Christmas fairytale on the wall of the Cathedral was created based on the novel “Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. In the form of a 3D projection, the 15-minute screenings will create an unforgettable experience packed with colors, music, and sounds. The show will be screened 7 times a day, everyday from December 25th to 30th.
6. Vilnius Winter Gastro Tour. “Taste the Festive Vilnius” is a gastronomic route containing 29 restaurants, inviting locals and visitors to try all the different festive dishes of the Christmas season. The list includes such delicacies as rabbit liver pate with creamy, buckwheat pudding, ginger-infused sea buckthorn sauce, Lithuanian Christmas Eve beetroot soup with mushroom dumplings, and many more seasonal desserts, warm drinks, and savory dishes.
7. Kaunas Christmas Tree. In contrast to the winter-themed Christmas tree of Vilnius, the Kaunas Christmas tree is clad with 600 butterflies and—as its designer, Jolanta Šmidtienė, explains—is a symbol of the promised paradise, comfort, summery warmth, and pleasure. While the light-up ceremony took place online, there were around 500 guests attending the event on-site. This year the attendees were mainly children with disabilities, accompanied by their guardians. Also, nestled in the Town Hall next to the Christmas tree, the Kaunas Christmas market houses various workshops, little stores, and even offers visitors a chance to have a meet and greet with Santa himself.
8. Raudondvaris Ice Sculptures. This year, the park of the Raudondvaris manor has been decorated with a selection of astounding ice sculptures. The exposition features the Nutcracker, the Lion King, the Princess and the Frog, the Wolf and three piglets, and many other favorite fairy tale heroes. The first ice sculpture of a reindeer has been illuminated during the Christmas tree lighting ceremony—just before the stage of the festive event.
9. Klaipėda Christmas Tree. This year the Christmas tree in the port town Klaipėda will be only 55 centimeters tall. Standing for the cause of sustainable development and turning to the real Christmas values, the city has decided not to cut any trees this year, with a statement “small (tree) worth big city Christmas”. The decorum construction is fully reusable and includes a live tree under a glass dome that will be planted somewhere in the city after the holiday season. Klaipėda is also the last one to have its lighting ceremony as it has been announced to take place on December 11th, 5:00 PM.
10. Visiting Santa in Klaipėda. This year, locals and the country’s visitors will have the opportunity to visit Santa’s little house located at the educational center of Klaipėda Puppet Theatre. This is not only the perfect opportunity for the little ones to meet Santa in person but to make last-minute present requests as well.