The countdown till the historical anniversary took off by lighting a specifically-designed clock—a symbolic installation, towering at seven meters in the city center, the Cathedral Square. The clock was launched by Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius, and an exclusive clock guardian—a 4.5-meter-tall light man, during the Light Festival and hot-air balloon, music and lights show. It will be reminding the guests and the residents of the city how many days are left till the grand anniversary and many of the birthday-related events in 2023.
“Although Vilnius will be 700 years old, both the city and its residents are the true embodiment of a youthful curiosity, ingenuity, determination, and passion,” Šimašius said. “2023 will be a special year for Vilnius, therefore we invite everyone from all around the globe to come to our city, join us in celebrations, and experience the magic themselves.”
The official history of Vilnius began in 1323 when Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, mentioned the city for the first time in one of his letters, dated January 25th, to foreign merchants and craftsmen. The 700th anniversary in 2023 will present opportunities to highlight the colorful history of Vilnius, strengthen the ties with the city residents and guests, and boost the global recognition of the capital.
Among the shows, organized for the anniversary in 2023, will be a movie about Vilnius, a performance festival, the AI-driven reconstruction of the first opera performed in Vilnius in the 17th century, and other large-scale events by modern art museum “MO,” the National Museum of Lithuania, and other organizers. The main next year’s celebrations will be held on January 25th, the day of the anniversary, and July 25th, when Vilnius becomes an international music arena.
The 699th birthday kicked off the year-round preparations with the crowd-favorite annual Vilnius Light Festival, to be held January 25th-29th. It was first organized to celebrate Vilnius’ birthday in 2019 and now typically attracts over 200K of spectators each year. The Light Festival has illuminated the city streets, parks, and squares with 22 installations by artists from Lithuania, Australia, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, and France.
The launch of the countdown was accompanied by the hot air balloon show, music and lights show “700-Year Legend of Vilnius,” where the balloons took advantage of fire, color, and music to tell the story of the city. The show was also held on the ground to allow the spectators to admire the visual and acoustic performance.
In light of the ongoing global pandemic, all pre-anniversary events, including the 699th birthday celebrations, are organized according to all safety requirements. The guests and residents of Vilnius are also asked to maintain safe distances and take the necessary safety precautions.