Lithuania can be very proud of its numerous artists who circulate at the highest levels of international contemporary art, music and theatre. But the best way to get to know our art and culture is definitely to visit. Our wide selection of museums – including the recently opened MO Museum designed by “starchitect” Daniel Liebeskind – offer exhibitions of everything from archaeology to contemporary art. And if you want to enjoy Lithuanian or foreign cinema, music, theatre or dance, there is a selection of world-class performances and festivals to take in.
Throughout its long history Lithuania has often found itself at a crossroads. Every war and disruption left the walls of palaces and wealthy homes empty, as any artworks of value were taken out of the country. If they had not been, Lithuania would possess art collections to match those of the best museums of the world. But today we can be proud that the names of numerous Lithuanian artists circulate in the most important contemporary art venues.
A whirlwind of festivals
No matter when you visit Lithuania, there will be no shortage of interesting things to see, hear and do. In the summer you can romp at a dance music festival on the Baltic coast in Karklė; check out the alternative music, art and lifestyle festival Yaga Gathering on a lake in the Varnėna region; attend a jazz festival in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda or Birštonas; sing with our best bards at the Purple Evening festival in Anykščiai; dance through the night at the Galapagos festival on Zarasų Lake; or try your hand at ancient crafts at Kernavė’s Live Archeology Days.
By fall and winter the festivals move into pleasant indoor venues – the senses are regaled by classical music, jazz, theatre and film. Leading international performers are well acquainted with the New Baltic Dance and Aura dance festivals, our International Circus Weekend and the Sirenos theatre festival.
As Christmas approaches Lithuania’s cities become one lively and impressive festival as they compete to create the most innovatively decorated Christmas tree. It’s hard to beat the capital’s efforts, which for several years has made it into the top ten of the world’s most impressive Christmas trees.
Spring in Lithuania begins with the Kino Pavasaris international film festival, which for two weeks attracts crowds of filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts. Then the fashion fiesta Mados Infekcija blazes through Vilnius. Folk music lovers are invited to Skamba Skamba Kankliai – one of only a few festivals of authentic folk music in Europe. Amateur and professional musicians strum guitars and beat drums in Vilnius’s Street Music Day, while our annual Culture Night brings the whole world to the city’s streets, squares and venues for a nightlong culture carnival.
Kaunas – 2022 European Capital of Culture
An impressive army of culture workers has already landed in Kaunas, promising endless excellent events. Lithuania’s temporary interwar capital is being transformed into a modern capital where talent is appreciated – drawing young people and creative businesses – and where culture thrives in public spaces and is accessible to all. Kaunas is ready to share its history, heritage and cultural values with Lithuanians and all those who have yet to discover this city of culture.
Lithuania on the World Heritage List
We are proud to have long list of world-class cultural and natural heritage sites that are protected by UNESCO. Among Lithuania’s 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites there are a few that are especially valuable – the historic centre of Vilnius, the Curonian Spit, the Kernavė archeological site and cultural reserve, and the Struvė Geodetic Arc.
UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List also includes Lithuania’s song and dance festival tradition, our iron cross-crafting and its symbolism, and our traditional polyphonic songs – sutartinės – that have travelled through the centuries to still be alive and sung today.
In 2015 Kaunas was added to UNESCO’S Creative Cities Network, and its modernist architecture has been included in UNESCO’S World Heritage Site Tentative List. And various important Lithuanian documents – the Radzwills’ Archives and the Niasvizh (Nieśwież) Library Collection; the Union of Lublin that was signed by Lithuania and Poland; and documents from the 1988 Baltic Way action – have been included in UNESCO’S Memory of the World Register.
To date, the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve is only Lithuanian location that has been included in UNESCO’S World Biosphere Reserve Network.