The European Capital of Culture 2022 is Kaunas in Lithuania, and to celebrate, they have 1000s of events lined-up for visitors and locals to experience this year. For this guide, we look at some of the fantastic things you can experience this spring to help you top up on arts and culture and gain an authentic taste of Kaunas.
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and is the 2022 European Capital of Culture. The prestigious cultural title has meant the city has “Gone to town” with its cultural activities and will be wowing with more than 1,000 events, impressive water shows and some world-leading art exhibitions.
To help make the most of a visit to Kaunas this spring, below is a selection of some of the amazing things on offer that showcase the city’s cultural life and vibrant art scene.
Exhibitions by Yoko Ono and Marina Abramović
As part of its cultural experiences in 2022, Kaunas will be hosting some incredible art exhibitions during its year-long events program. One of the stand-outs will be Yoko Ono, who will be hosting a retrospective exhibition titled “The Learning Garden of Freedom”. Her exhibition will feature experimental films, conceptual art, performance art and spatial installations. The Yoko Ono exhibition will be running from January through to September.
In addition to The Learning Garden of Freedom exhibition will be a solo exhibition from Serbia’s Marina Abramović. Her exhibition is called Memory of Being and is based on her series The Cleaner. The exhibition runs from March to July and will be in the form of a video installation that covers Abramović’s conceptual and performance artworks from 1960 to date, her iconic An Artist’s Life Manifesto, and her unique creative Method.
Contemporary Myth of Kaunas: springtime dose of entertainment
One of the showcase events on the Kaunas cultural agenda is The Confluence which is the second part of the Contemporary Myth of Kaunas trilogy. This event will be highlighting all of the cultural events, festivals, concerts, exhibitions, and initiatives of 2022.
The aptly-named Confluence takes place at the meeting point of the Neris and Nemunas rivers, two of the largest rivers in the country. The two rivers are the defining aspect of Kaunas and are considered to be the city’s birthplace.
Visitors can expect some impressive performances that include circus performers, acrobats, a groundbreaking environmental design project and musical river tours, all of which will highlight the magic of the waters.
The organiser of the European Capital of Culture 2022 events is a body called Kaunas 2022. They want to show their support for the people affected by the Ukrainian conflict and have opened a creative cultural space in the Kaunas Central Post Office Palace. The space is called CulturEUkraine and celebrates Ukrainian artists, and has art-therapy zones, exhibitions and co-working areas.
“We want the Center to be a place which would spread the Ukrainian voices and realities in all Europe. The artists will be able to use the Center to carry on with their activities while maintaining relationships with other Ukrainian and local artists,” said Virginija Vitkienė, head of Kaunas 2022. “Culture and creativity have been the constant beacons of hope throughout humankind’s darkest times, helping people overcome all hurdles and lifting the spirits.”
Glimpses of Art Deco throughout the city
One of the major draws for visitors to the city in the springtime is its charming streets which will be a welcome dose of artistic culture for art-starved travellers. The city’s art deco styling has been entwined with modernist architecture, which can clearly be seen in its hotels, museums, commercial and residential buildings, with 44 buildings listed as European Heritage sites.
The best places to see the modernist interwar architecture are the Vytautas Magnus War Museum, Romuva Cinema, Kaunas Central Post Office Palace and one of the oldest cable cars in Europe, the Aleksotas Funicular.
If you are a die-hard fan of all things Art Deco, a must-visit is the Kaunas Art Deco Museum, where you can immerse yourself in authentic Art Deco and Bauhaus furniture and learn more about the city’s incredible architecture.
It’s not only the architecture that visitors need to see; also, in the streets are some gigantic graffiti murals that help to make the city an extraordinary open-air art gallery.
Lithuania has removed almost all pandemic travel restrictions and this, coupled with the mild spring weather, makes it the ideal destination for a city break. If you would like more information on the European Capital of Culture, including information on all the festivities, things to see and the uniques experiences on offer, click here.
Read more art travel guides and features here.