Cultures worldwide have ancient traditions of respecting the dead; in the Catholic world, the special period for that is All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day, and All Hallows’ Eve, much better known as Halloween. Or Dia de los Muertos, if you prefer the Latin American culture. So, no matter what you call this time of solemnity and serenity, here are some ideas for spending it in Kaunas. Layer up and grab some tea or pumpkin spice lattes, stuff some sweets in your pocket, and let’s go.
The Petrašiūnai Cemetery in Kaunas is almost like an open-air museum, a pantheon, where famous politicians, artists, and writers rest. The Kaunas version of the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris is becoming more and more popular for thematic excursions and even poetry readings.
However, there is an equally engaging, though much less well-known, cemetery in Kaunas called the Eiguliai Cemetery. It was established around 1880, much earlier than the Petrašiūnai cemetery, and is known as a pantheon of Lithuanian circus performers.
Late October and November is a sensible time to visit the modernist house museum of Lithuanian painter A. Žmuidzinavičius’, or the adjacent Devils Museum, both for the vibes and one straightforward reason. It has recently opened its doors after the reconstruction of the building and will soon close again to renovate the exhibition. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Other museums well suited for spookier vibes are the Museum of the History of Lithuanian Medicine and Pharmacy, located in a restored 16th-century building at the Town Hall Square in the Old Town of Kaunas, and the privately-owned Atomic KGB Bunker in the outskirts of the city.
From 27 October to 18 November, the Maironis Museum of Lithuanian Literature hosts a special exhibition, ‘Cold Stone Tower’, featuring the posthumous masks of Kazis Binkis, Vaižgantas, Vydūnas and other Lithuanian writers. A posthumous mask is a plaster or wax impression of the face made immediately after death. It is a procedure that has been carried out since ancient times, whereby the facial features of a famous person are captured in a death mask after the end of their life. In ancient Greek and Roman art, sculptural portraits and busts were based on the death masks of celebrities. In the museum’s exposition, you will see masks made by famous Lithuanian sculptors.
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is a special time to visit the Kaunas Ninth Fort Museum and remember all those killed by senseless wars. The museum’s vast territory features a number of sensitive modern and contemporary art installations, followed by thought-provoking exhibitions in the former cells and other areas of the fort.
On Tuesday, 31 October, the Kaunas State Philharmonic invites those who believe music heals to the concert ‘After Dark’. ‘The music in this concert aims to reveal the ascent of light, the structure of abundance and national subtlety. All the processes associated with the transparent sound remain in memory like islands of enlightened utopia, preventing the unique European historicism from sinking into obscurity,’ Jūratė Landsbergytė, one of the most prominent organists in Lithuania, describes the programme of the evening devoted to Ukraine’s struggle for the light in Europe. Landsbergytė will perform with the renowned German flautist Johannes Hustedt and the talented young Lithuanian flautist Vytautas Oškinis.
On 1 November at dusk, the centre of Kaunas will traditionally turn into the ‘River of Souls’ - candles will be lit from the fountain of Laisvės Alėja to Soboras church. The event will also feature live music. The organisers, a local students union, remind you that they will take care of the candles and you don’t need to bring your own.
NEfonas, the up-and-coming concert promoters, are hosting their ‘UNholy’ live music party on 30 October in one of the warehouses of Kaunas Fortress in Šančiai. Expect some fresh and loud sounds accompanied by art installations. (Tickets)
For the most experienced ravers, same as every year, the turn of October and November is scheduled on the dance floor of the ‘Clockwork Apricot’. On Tuesday, this one-night electronic music festival will move back to the 00s. That is, the long-forgotten City Metro Club, located under the Metropolis Hotel. Buy a ticket beforehand (click here), as it is probably going to be a sold-out event.