December is a magical time in every Lithuanian heart. This is the only time in a year, when basketball is not the most important thing in life. So what are the locals most excited about?
1. O Christmas trees, o Christmas trees
Over the years Vilnius has received a lot of global attention for its unique and stunning Christmas tree installations. And we are getting spoiled, because each year it’s harder and harder to impress us. This time the decorated Christmas tree resembles a queen figure from the game of chess. Why? Because, the organisers were inspired by archeological findings in the Palace of the Grand Dukes - the shape of the tree was borrowed from the 14-15th century chess piece. And it’s completely sustainable! All 6000 tree branches used in the construction are defiled from the trees by foresters while carrying out the general maintenance of the forest. Therefore not only trees but even branches are not cut just for the spectacle.
After making selfies next to the tree, we recommend looking around. The Queen of Christmas trees is surrounded by a traditional Christmas Market. Here you will be able to buy various hand-made gifts while staying warm and happy by drinking hot chocolate or mulled wine and enjoying a variety of sweets.
THE CHRISTMAS TOWN
30 November 2019 – 7 January 2020
2. Christmas markets
Yes, markets. Because we have so many of them all around the town. And to mention all of them, would take a separate article. So we will list only two wonderful events, which already became a local tradition.
For all design lovers we recommend visiting Design Square. Meet the local designers, and discover Vilnius-made trends. Of course, don't hesitate to buy something as gifts for your loved ones.
THE CHRISTMAS MARKET – DESIGN SQUARE
Vincas Kudirka Square
17–22 December 2019
However, if you tend to leave all the Christmas shopping for the last possible moment - don’t worry. Head directly to the New Town and visit Uptown Christmas Market in Loftas. It’s anything but traditional. Filled with works from up-and-coming talents and artisans, street food and live music this place is a perfect getaway from Christmas madness.
UPTOWN CHRISTMAS - LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS FAIR
LOFTAS, Švitrigailos St. 29
21-23 December 2019
3. Alternative Christmas Yard
We really enjoy our traditions here. But every year Vilnius tries to redefine what Christmas could be. Last year we celebrated Alternative Christmas in the open air train museum. This year - Lukiškės Prison! Wait, what?! A prison? Yes! Recently closed institution, which stood here for more than a hundred years will be opening its gates for everyone. What to expect? Light installations, interactive swings and a water sculpture, which will serve as an alternative Christmas Tree. But most importantly - you will be able to come and leave as you please.
Alternative Christmas Yard
Lukiškių Prison, Lukiškių St. 6
20 December – 5 January (except December 23-24 and December 30-31)
4. Christmas Ice-Skating rink
Winters are getting warmer and warmer every year. But that still doesn’t stop us from enjoying winter sports! If you like skating, check out Outdoor Christmas Ice-skating located in Lukiškių square! The rink will be open from 6 December until 8 March 2020. Don’t worry, skates can be rented at the spot and it will cost only 3 Eur per session.
The Christmas Ice Skating Rink
6 December 2019 – 7 March 8
More information: https://www.kaledossostineje.lt/en/eng-en/christmas-ice-skating-rink/
5. New Year’s Eve Fireworks
We really like Fireworks here. If you don’t believe us come to the Cathedral Square at midnight of December 31st and check it out yourselves. Apparently there should be a special surprise awaiting everyone there after the festive fireworks show… We have no idea what it could be and we can’t wait to find out!
Attention! Please treat yourself wisely and responsibly – do not bring fireworks to the Cathedral Square and Christmas trees. Use of pyrotechnic equipment in Vilnius is prohibited!
And here you have it - the things locals are excited about this year. However, there are many more exciting events happening during this festive season. If you want to learn more - check out oficial Christmas Festival website: www.kaledossostineje.lt/en
And what about local traditions?
Yes, we kinda left this out of the article… But If Lithuanian Christmas traditions is the thing that really interests you, then join our jolly guides for Vilnius Old-town & Christmas Fairy tales tour! Together we will uncover the most important local Christmas traditions, unknown facts and funny stories about Vilnius and Lithuania! Bonus: we will teach you how to predict the future as Lithuanians have been doing for centuries!
December 31st from 8PM to January 1st, 2020 4 AM all public transport in Vilnius is free of charge.