Millions of people heard about Kaunas for the first time in 2022 - the city has done a great job as the European Capital of Culture. We were overjoyed to meet so many people who fell in love with the kaunastic spirit all year round! 2023 will be no less eventful in the city that combines medieval traces, modernist architecture, a passion for sports and flashes of contemporary culture. What, you haven’t yet discovered what kaunastic is all about? Read on!
Here’s why you shouldn’t delay your debut visit to Kaunas. UNESCO are expected to announce later this year whether it will approve the nomination of Kaunas modernist architecture for the World Heritage List. Be warned that if it does, you’ll have to wait for a vacancy in one of Kaunas’ many cosy hotels... So, make sure we meet you this spring, summer or autumn, walking down Laisvės Alėja, one of the region’s longest pedestrian boulevards, filled with the spirit of freedom, art and joie de vivre.
Many festivals and events initiated during the year of Kaunas as the European Capital of Culture have become an integral part of the city and district. One such occasion awaits on 20 March, when the city will celebrate the International Day of Happiness again. The promise is that you will find a variety of fun and uplifting cultural stops in the most unexpected places.
On 8-11 June, the international festival of contemporary circus CIRKULIACIJA will bring a warm and fresh summer breeze to Kaunas. With a dose of delicious irony, the aroma of Moroccan coffee and the melodies of traditional weddings, it will talk about migration and tell stories of resilience and strength. The festival will also feature performances by companies from Palestine and Morocco, as well as performers from Chile and Brazil.
Kaunas will celebrate its birthday at the very end of May this year. The fun will start with the longest dinner table on 26 May, stretching across Laisvės Avenue. This party is known as the Courtyard Festival, where the cultural programme and socialising are just as important as the food. We don’t know exactly what our city will do for its birthday, but it’s never been dull!
On 1-6 August, one of the most memorable events of the past year will return to Kaunas and Kaunas District - the international performing arts festival ConTempo has gained the trust of both foreign and Lithuanian creators and audiences over the past four years and has steadily established itself on the list of the main events of Kaunas city and district. Its stage is the whole city and its surroundings!
A new tradition established thanks to Kaunas 2022 - the sporadic championship of climbing Parodos Hill - takes place in September. The organisers of the Fluxus Festival have whispered to us that the tradition will continue.
This year, the Kaunas Biennial, one of the most important contemporary art events in the Baltics, will take place from August to October, attracting not only culture-hungry audiences but also relevant, bold, surprising curators and artists from all over the world to the city.
More events launched by Kaunas 2022 are also set to return this year, such as the CityTelling Festival, evoking evokes the city’s memory, the Magenta Landscape Design Festival and the Design Festival, the European Capital of Culture Forum, Japanese Days WA etc.
The most anticipated weekend for sports enthusiasts all over the continent this spring is scheduled for 19-21 May. Tickets for the Euroleague Final Four tournament at Žalgiris Arena sold out in hours, meaning the whole of Kaunas will be flooded with the basketball rhythm on those days. Colourful fans from all over Europe and the passion for the orange ball that unites them all are guaranteed to fill the city’s bars, squares and other spaces where you can hang a screen.
Our own team, BC Žalgiris Kaunas, is also happy about attendance this season, and we’re always excited to see the “sold out” sign as we approach yet another home game. Wishing you the best of luck securing a spot in the arena - the atmosphere is well worth it! A refreshing reminder - the sports complex on Nemunas Island was expanded last year to include a swimming pool and sauna complex suited for a modern city dweller.
Oh, and the joy of Kaunas having the first stadium at the international level in Lithuania hasn’t faded! This year, the Darius and Girėnas Stadium will host several international matches - the Lithuanian national team will take to the pitch in June, September and October for the European Championship qualifiers.
And now, attention, runners. On 23 April, Kaunas will stop traffic and hand out a record number of medals for the 11th Kaunas Marathon! The international running event in Kaunas attracts thousands of participants and is open to everyone, regardless of age or physical fitness.
It is no accident that Robbie Williams himself starts the season of big concerts in Kaunas this year on 10 March. The British artist, returning to our city for the second time, will ensure that 2023 will be full of fantastic concerts. Later this year, Žalgirio Arena will also host gigs by Eros Ramazzotti (11 May), One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson (8 September), Andrea Bocelli (23 November) and many more.
The Kaunas Jazz Festival, which will take place at the turn of April-May, has already revealed that this year it will present concerts by Kurt Elling, Billy Cobham, Zara McFarlane - and, of course, Lithuania’s finest jazz masters.
The Pažaislis Music Festival is ready for its 28th edition of live classical experiences. Traditionally, the festival’s major concerts will take place in the Baroque Pažaislis Monastery, at the Kaunas State Philharmonic and in various unexpected venues. The variety of genres presented in the programme allows everyone to discover the beauty of classical music - the concerts feature chamber, symphonic, experimental and electronic music. One of the festival’s main events has already been announced - a performance by British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra on 21 June.
Last summer, Audra Festival attracted electronic music and nightlife aficionados from all over Europe to Kaunas. It is great to see that the initiative behind the Lizdas nightclub is continuing. This summer, the festival will return with a vision to open up long-locked spaces again for a few days and present the most wanted artists from around the world. Tickets are on sale for the 2023 edition of the city’s most significant musical hurricane, scheduled for 29 June-3 July.
Don’t miss the most exciting activities by following the Kaunas cultural event calendar at kultura.kaunas.lt and, of course, checking our social networks!