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Kaunas 2022 smashes expectations for ‘The Biggest Party of the Year’ as hundreds of thousands of people descend on the city

Thousands of people celebrate as Kaunas marks the second part of the year-long celebration as European Capital of Culture 2022.

The second Act in the mythical beasts of Kaunas trilogy; The confluence, entertained attendees with water shows, concerts and circus performances across the city during the weekend.

Along with its award as the European Capital of Culture the city also celebrated its birthday on friday 20th of May, a spectacular music show kicked off celebrations with live performances on the summer stage from 12th of May.

Kaunasians also continued their annual tradition of ‘the courtyard festival’. The festival was created in 2018 as a celebration of unity. Friday saw a spectacular 2500 people sit at one table that stretched 1km across Laisvės Alėja and Vilnius Street, making it the longest white-clothed table in Europe.

The courtyard festival offered Kaunas visitors an opportunity to come together and celebrate all things culture, from traditional folk dancing to symphony orchestras. Everyone was invited to participate, both young and old, to create the inclusive and open atmosphere that Kaunas offers.

Saturday marked The Confluence show, before the main event spectators were treated to a performance of “Open Lines” Cie Basinga. Basinga’s performance invited viewers to look up as she glided across a 180-metres long tightrope in the gravity defying stunt that left viewers captivated.

Locals could be overheard praising the city “I never expected to see anything like this in Kaunas, I am so proud of my city.” said one spectator.

As the sun set on the city the confluence crowd caught the first glimpse of The mythical beast of Kaunas. Visitors of the show were left in awe as the beast joined the stage. Presenting the beast in the second act of the trilogy is of course by design and is key to the storytelling of the trilogy.

“It’s (the Contemporary Myth of Kaunas Trilogy) like a journey through the three stages of human life – understanding who I am, accepting myself as I am, and being happy with myself as I am,” said Rytis Zemkauskas, creator of Kaunas 2022.

First Ever Time: Culture Takes Over Entire City

The Nemunas was transformed into a musical dreamland and a space for grand openings during the weekend. Thousands of people met by the confluence of the Nemunas and the Neris rivers for the opening of the big ship of culture Ne-muno7. Ne-muno7, originally the name used for a dredger that deepened the riverbed of Nemunas, is an environmental design project that is mostly used in the far east.

After the opening of “Ne-muno7”, spectators were invited to watch Kamertonas, a mixed folk songs choir, by the banks of the river as they sang atmospheric music accompanied by the audiovisual musical narrative created by the duo “Tykumos” from Klaipėida. Together the groups created a unique experience that married song with visible and invisible water currents

A Mythical Beast of the City Appears

Based on Rytis Zemkauskas creation “The Mythical Beast of Kaunas”, The Confluence (May 19-22) together with the two other events from the contemporary myth of Kaunas Trilogy. The weekend’s events were designed to create and maintain a unified city. A place where its people are proud, supportive and inclusive. Together with several artists from Lithuania and abroad, the trilogy is co-created to create the best international experience.

Kaunas, the European Capital of Culture strives to make the journey from a temporary to contemporary capital where history is not forgotten and the future is designed. This journey has already begun with successful events and exhibitions, among them William Kentridge, Yoko Ono and Marina Abramović.

Marina Abramović’s exhibition “Memory of Being”

One of the most anticipated art events in Kaunas and all of Lithuania is the exhibition “Memory of Being” by Marina Abramović. The exhibition offers a detailed presentation of the works by Abramović from the 1960s to recent years; the exhibition also draws attention in a unique form – for the first time it is prepared as an impressive video installation from selected documentaries and films of the artist’s performances.

Exhibition “Kaunas – Vilnius: Moving Mountains”

Kaunas and Vilnius, Vilnius and Kaunas. The largest cities in Lithuania. Competing, disagreeing, but also in need of each other. The pride and superstitions that have filled the life of Vilnius and Kaunas hide the truth – indeed, these cities need each other. This is told by the exhibition “Kaunas–Vilnius: Moving Mountains” taking place at the MO Museum in Vilnius and Kaunas City Museum at the same time. Would you like to see the entire exhibition? Then get ready to visit both cities!

Exhibition “1972: Breaking through the Wall”

Visitors to the communities of people who disobeyed and resisted the system in the 1960s and 1970s: youth rock bands, actors of drama and pantomime from Kaunas, rebellious hippies, modern artists of Kaunas and Vilnius. Paintings, photographs and films, documentary testimonies of musical life, youth fashion of this period and other artefacts tell about alternative culture and non-Soviet way of life in Soviet Lithuania.

Due to the current Russia and Ukraine conflict, Kaunas 2022, has pledged its support to Ukrainians seeking refuge. The organisers of Kaunas 2022 created CulturEUkraine, an initiative that allows Ukrainian refugees to build a community in the city of Kaunas.