Over a hundred partners have been involved in the preparations for the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, and two dates have been chosen for the main events: January 25, when Vilnius was first mentioned in historical written sources, and July 25 July, the day of the city’s patron St Christopher.
Inga Romanovskienė, head of the Vilnius Tourism and Business Development Agency Go Vilnius, who is curating the anniversary celebrations, notes that all the activities of the anniversary programme have been designed in partnership.
“The programme for Vilnius’ birthday was developed with partners from various fields to better reflect the city’s values of freedom, tolerance, and harmony between among cultures. More than 100 partners have joined the anniversary programme: public sector and non-governmental organisations, well-known festival organisers, private businesses and communities,” Romanovskienė said in a press release issued on Friday.
The main message of the anniversary programme is “Vilnius: 700 years young”, the municipality said.
“For 700 years, Vilnius has been celebrating its youth: the desire and determination to constantly change, the desire to improve and discover. To create a distinctive and creative city, where all ideas and the people who create them can fit. Vilnius’ anniversary is a celebration of all of us, so everyone’s contribution is important,” says the director of Go Vilnius.
To mark the anniversary, Vilnius and Eurocities are organising the international conference Champion Cities Summit 2023: Champions Think Bold.
Eurocities is a network of more than 200 cities in 38 countries, and the president of the organisation, Dario Nardella, will be attending the event.
Mayors from Europe and the rest of the world will meet in Vilnius on January 24, on the eve of Vilnius’ 700th anniversary celebrations, at the National Philharmonic Hall.
Vilnius will also host the Congress of Historians of the Lublin Quartet, the Nobel Prize Laureates’ Debate Vilnius – a UNESCO City of Literary Heritage, and other events.
Two dates have been chosen as the most important dates for the anniversary celebrations: January 25, when Vilnius was first mentioned in historical written sources 700 years ago, and July 25, the day of St Christopher, the patron saint of Vilnius.
On January 25, the event Time Portal. Vilnius: 700 Years Young will launch the anniversary Vilnius Festival of Lights and will become the main symbol of the events throughout January. The event will be broadcast live on LRT TV.
“January is a special month for our city, because 700 years ago Duke Gediminas sent his famous letters to spread the word about Vilnius to the world. Therefore, many events are planned in Vilnius on this day, and one of the highlights will be linked to the Vilnius Festival of Lights. The most unexpected places in Vilnius will be lit up in a new way and interactive installations will amaze,” says Romanovskienė.
January will also see a variety of events dedicated to the anniversary, including exhibitions, concerts, performing arts and film presentations. Tour operators are also actively joining in, inviting visitors to rediscover the capital, and restaurants offering a taste of restored historical dishes. Various art, cultural and business events will also contribute in different forms.
Meanwhile, on July 25, the day of St Christopher, the capital city will celebrate the music festival Young as Vilnius. A free concert of classical and popular contemporary music will take place in Vingio Park, featuring well-known Lithuanian artists and a guest artist from abroad. The first edition of the festival in 2022 attracted around 45,000 visitors.
According to Romanovskienė, important highlights of the anniversary programme will be seven projects that won the competition of ideas for Vilnius.
With the project Once in Vilnius, the Art Factory Loftas invites Vilnius residents and visitors to share their experiences in the capital city and be co-authors of a film about Vilnius.
The National Museum’s project Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago is organising educational activities and telling about the history of the city outside museum spaces.
The National Opera and Ballet Theatre will reconstruct the first opera performed in Vilnius in the 17th century.
The Art Gene and the Lithuanian Ensemble Network has invited internationally renowned composers to create music pieces for specific public spaces in Vilnius. For the anniversary, the Art Niche Gallery will present a biennial of performances in Vilnius squares, parks and buildings.
Ričardas Gavelis’ novel Vilnius Poker has inspired many events as well as a film adaptation directed by Donatas Ulvydas. Among them, the MO Museum will present a massive installation inviting visitors to see Vilnius through the prism of Vilnius Poker.
Vilnius University, the Palace of the Grand Dukes, the National Art Museum, the Lithuanian Historical Institute, the National Library and other institutions are also organising programmes dedicated to the Jubilee.