The “Christmas in the Capital” festival bringing the Christmas spirit into the city has announced this year’s eventful programme. The anticipation of the most important celebration of the year will be kick-started by the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square on the first evening of the winter season, filling up the city with both traditional and new winter season attractions that will last up until the 7 of January.

“As we welcome the most beautiful holidays of the year, we invite residents and visitors of Vilnius to exchange intangible gifts during the festive season: to cherish and strengthen relationships and to devote much-needed time to socializing. This year, we involved all the elderships of the city and various NGOs into the programme emphasising that the best Christmas gift is attention, conversation and companionship”, says the Vice-Mayor of Vilnius Simona Bieliūnė.

The “Christmas in the Capital” programme includes a Christmas town surrounding the Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square, a traditional Christmas train, the International Christmas Charity Fair encouraging sharing kindness, a mass Christmas run, a Christmas design square at Vincas Kudirka Square, also preparations for the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Bell Tower of the Vilnius Cathedral and the Three Kings Day.

One of the new things of the Christmas period this year is the “Neighbors’ Christmas” initiative, which will bring Vilnius residents together, and the ice rink, which found a new location in the Grand Courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes.

The “Neighbors’ Christmas” initiative will run throughout the Advent season, with a festive bus travelling to different locations of the city every day. We will invite local communities to meet, chat and thank each other while enjoying a warm cup of tea and treats by the Christmas trees lit in different neighbourhoods.

“The anticipation of Christmas is a time to enjoy simple, real things, to share attention and to spend time together. This is what all the “Christmas in the Capital 2023” events will focus on aiming to foster these values and to encourage the involvement of Vilnius residents in creating a festive mood in the city”, says Paulius Jurgutis, Director of the Vilnius Cultural Centre and organiser of the “Christmas in the Capital”.

The most anticipated spectacle – the lighting of the Christmas tree

The lighting of the Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square is the main event of the winter festival and the one that attracts the most attention from Vilnius residents, visitors to the capital and the entire country. It will begin symbolically – on the first evening of the calendar winter, on Friday, the 1 of December, at 7:30 p.m.

Well-known Lithuanian performers will give their performances and share joyful mood at the stage next to the main symbol of Christmas. The event will be hosted by Ignas Krupavičius and Eglė Kernagytė. Musical performances and the thrilling culmination of the event will be broadcasted live on LRT.

Although all the secrets surrounding this year’s Christmas tree will only be revealed during the lighting ceremony, we already know that the tree will be a natural one. The tree, which symbolises the warmth and joy of Christmas, will be an invitation to foster traditions, a sense of community and the spirit of giving.

Visiting the Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square will be possible until the 7 of January (inclusive).

UAB Lumidėja is creating the artistic composition for this year’s Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square. The company was chosen by way of an open design competition. The value of the contract signed with the contractor for the installation of the tree is EUR 89,500 (inclusive of VAT).

Streets of the capital will have new decorations

This year, new illuminated elements and decorations will create a festive atmosphere in Vilnius. The City Hall Square, Vokiečių Street, T. Vrublevskio Street, Šventaragio Street, Pilies Street, Stiklių Street, Aušros Vartų Street, Gariūnų Street, Ukmergės Street, Dariaus ir Girėno Street and Galvės Street, Gedimino, Konstitucijos and Savanorių Avenues, Molėtai and Nemenčinė highways will shine even brighter.

Švenčių Studija, which won a three-year contract, will decorate the streets, spending around EUR 205,000 (including VAT) annually for street decorations.

Holiday gathering place – Christmas Town at the Cathedral Square

Not only the sparkling Christmas tree, but also the Christmas Town set up next to it at the Cathedral Square cosily surrounding the tree will become the centre of attraction for Vilnius residents. From the 1 of December to the 1 of January, forty pavilions arranged at the Vilnius Christmas Town will offer a wide variety of gifts and Christmas delicacies made by local craftsmen.

A Christmas train will make little ones’ dreams come true

From the 1 of December till the 7 of January, a Christmas train will take little ones and their parents on a half-hour journey around the Old Town filled with the spirit of Christmas, boarding passengers at the main stop near the Cathedral Square, at Šventaragio Street 2. The route will circle Šventaragio, Pilies, Didžioji (Town Hall Square), Vokiečių, Dominikonų, Universiteto and Šventaragio Streets. The ticket will cost 5 € (for everyone). Children under 90 cm tall, whose height will be measured by a special “Elf” measuring device, will travel for free. Tickets will be available at the train stop by scanning a QR code. The train will not run during mass events, such as the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the Christmas run and during the New Year’s Eve celebration.

Neighbours’ Christmas will bring neighbouring residents together

Having lit the main Christmas tree at the Cathedral Square, a wave of festive mood will sweep through all the 21 elderships of Vilnius. On 1-21 December, the Vilnius City Municipality will invite residents to come together, spend more time in lively interaction and sincerely chat with their neighbours. A special Neighbours’ Christmas Bus bearing the slogan “Best Christmas present is attention, conversation and companionship” will visit a different neighbourhood every day. Community members will be treated to Christmas sweets and tea in their own backyard.

The spirit of generosity at the 21 International Christmas Charity Fair

The 21 International Christmas Charity Fair, which will take place on Saturday, the 2 of December, at noon at Vilnius Town Hall, will be an opportunity to foster a beautiful tradition of solidarity and sharing. It will be organised by the International Women’s Association of Vilnius (IWAV), together with foreign diplomatic and business communities as well as other friends of Lithuania.

Nearly four dozen exhibitors from foreign embassies and international schools will be selling original handicrafts, souvenirs and delicacies from all over the world, there will be raffles and musical performances taking place. Traditionally, funds raised on the day of the fair will be donated to organisations working for the social welfare of children and the elderly in Lithuania. The patron of the fair is Diana Nausėdienė, the country’s First Lady.

Special festive entertainment at the Palace of the Grand Dukes: ice-skating rink, Santa’s residence and a spectacular evening show “Legend. The Dream of Vilnius”

In this year’s Christmas capital, the Palace of the Grand Dukes and its surroundings are to offer most surprises. The Grand Courtyard will be home to the festive Vilnius skating rink – Christmas Ice at the Palace of the Grand Dukes. Here, Vilnius residents and visitors will be able to try an open-air ice rink covering more than 700 m2, which will host at least eight mass skating sessions every day, the first two of which (at 10:00 a.m. and 11.15 a.m.) will be free of charge (for children aged 3 to 14 and seniors – on weekdays and for everyone – on weekends). The skating rink, which was inaugurated on the 2 of December, will be open till the 16 of February.

A variety of festive performances are planned on the stage set up next to the skating rink. There will be nearly 1,000-seat grandstands set up to take a seat and enjoy the performances, while Christmas shops arranged right next to the Palace of the Grand Dukes will offer visitors to have a hot drink and indulge in culinary treats.

The story of the dream of Duke Gediminas and the legend of the Iron Wolf – a 45-minute music, light and video projection show “Legend. Vilnius Dream” played at the Grand Courtyard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes until the 30 of December, is likely to attract most attention of visitors. Tickets are already available at kakava.lt.

A special surprise awaits the youngest visitors to the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania – Santa Claus’ residence will be located next to the Palace, where they will be able to meet, share their wishes and take photos with Santa Claus and fairy tale characters until the 7 of January. For more information, visit valdovurumuledas.lt.

Massive festive activity at the city – Christmas Run

On the 9 of December, the 48 Eurovaistinė Christmas Run, the oldest and most fun Christmas run in Vilnius, will bring Vilnius residents and visitors together. Just like last year, this very Christmassy running celebration will decorate the capital city at dusk for the second consecutive year – the first runners will start at Vinco Kudirkos Square at 3:00 p.m. Participants wearing inventive costumes will traditionally be able to choose between the 12, 6 or 3 km and the Elves’ Run distances. Registration is now open. All information is available at kaledinisbegimas.lt

Uniqueness and handmade quality at the Christmas Design Square

The Christmas Design Square, rested, renewed and full of new features, returns to Vinco Kudirkos Square on 13-17 December. Around 50 Lithuanian creators, artists and designers will be presenting their best products and a range of exclusive handmade masterpieces in this oasis of artistic gifts open for five days only, inviting you to come and choose Christmas presents for your friends and family.

The Maltesers’ Soup campaign will invite to take care of the elderly

The 18 “Maltesers Soup” campaign for the elderly will take place on Thursday, 21 of December, at the Cathedral Square inviting to extend a caring helping hand in the eve of Christmas.  This year’s slogan is “Care that fits in a bowl”. From 5:00 p.m., a soup town will be set up next to the Christmas Town and the Christmas tree, where visitors will not only be able to enjoy different flavours of soup, but also meet the Maltesers, who care for 2,320 elderly people all year round in 44 locations in Lithuania, offering an opportunity to learn more about the people Maltesers look after and, of course, to do a good deed – to donate. The First Lady of the country, Diana Nausėdienė, will come to pour the first ladle of soup and show support for the Maltesers.

Waiting for the Miracle of Christmas at the Mass of the Holy Shepherds

In the evening of the 24 of December, the faithful will gather in a universal prayer to await the Christmas miracle at the Mass of the Holy Shepherds at Vilnius Cathedral. The Mass is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m.

Support and Friendship – a Christmas celebration for Ukrainian and Lithuanian children

F or the second year in a row, children and youth of Vilnius will gather in Vilnius Cathedral Square on the 28 of December to celebrate Christmas together, sharing support and friendship with families from Ukraine. The event, which starts at 4:00 p.m., will be full of music and smiles, performance of Lithuanian music stars, Lithuanian and Ukrainian young talents, games and photo shoots. Every child from Ukraine having come to the event will receive a sweet Christmas present. Volunteers will serve tea, hot chocolate and other treats, bake and offer hot doughnuts in the refreshment tent (the plan is to bake around 30,000 doughnuts just like last year).

New Year’s Eve at the Bell Tower

For the fifth consecutive year, the Lithuanian capital will welcome the New Year with a unique tradition – a bright and colourful party at the Vilnius Bell Tower, offering a sustainable and modern alternative to fireworks – a state-of-the-art light and video projection – as the clock approaches midnight. This year’s special spectacle, accompanied by a spectacular music and laser show at midnight, invites Vilnius residents and guests to gather from 10:00 p.m. till 1:00 a.m.

Three Kings – end of the festive season

Three Kings is celebrated on the 6 of January. On that day, a theatrical procession of the three-metre-high figures of the Kings Caspar, Merkel and Balthasar and their entourage will traditionally take place from the Dawn Gate to the Cathedral Square. The playful and community-engaging procession through the streets of Vilnius Old Town will start at 4:00 p.m. At the Nativity scene set up in the Cathedral Square, a mini-concert at 4:30 p.m. will continue the festivities. Afterwards, the Three Kings will visit the courtyard of the Teachers’ House, where a traditional event for the entire family, “Farewell to Christmas tree”, will take place from 6:00 p.m., inviting you to say a joyful goodbye to the Christmas tree. Since the Three Kings Day marks the end of the festive season, Christmas in the Capital will also announce the end of the season of festive events on Sunday, the 7 of January, saying goodbyes until next year.