Lively cultural events, concerts and festivals take place all year round, all over the country. Lithuanians are big fans of music of all kinds - this was, after all, the scene of the Singing Revolution - and the country is full of choirs, symphonic and chamber orchestras, theatre companies, contemporary dance troupes and opera and ballet artists. Annual festivals of classical music such as the Vilnius Festival, the St. Christopher's Festival and the Pažaislis Festival are internationally acclaimed.
Jazz enjoys widespread popularity and every year jazz fans and musicians take part in international jazz festivals in Klaipėda (www.jazz.lt), Kaunas (www.kaunasjazz.lt), Vilnius (www.vilniusjazz.lt), Nida (www.nidajazz.lt) which attract internationally known names.
Lithuanian performers are also known beyond the borders, for example the lovely soprano Violeta Urmana and the conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius. Plays with the characteristic direction of Rimas Tuminas, Oskaras Koršunovas and Eimuntas Nekrošius keep delighting audiences at international theatre festivals around the world.
Lithuanians have managed to retain authentic customs and traditions which often have clear connections with paganism. The Shrovetide tradition of chasing away the winter, marked by crowds of people wearing grotesque masks of devils, witches and other characters is merry and noisy both in the cities and in the countryside.
Magical Midsummer night urges everyone to take part in the old pagan ritual of singing and dancing around bonfires, make spells using herbs and play games that have been played at this time of year for many centuries. Both this and Statehood Day, which marks Mindaugas' coronation on 6 July 1253, is at its liveliest in Kernavė, Lithuania's first capital. The Days of Living Archaeology in Kernavė are also extremely popular, when you can watch how foods were prepared centuries ago, how fur, skins and amber were processed, how ironstone was melted. Sword-fights are also spectacular.
In Vilnius one of the loveliest traditions is the Kaziukas Fair and street market, attracting craftsmen and artisans from all over Lithuania and turning the whole of Pilies Street and beyond into an old-fashioned bazaar. This colourful evet is a great chance to buy special souvenirs and watch the skillful wood, metal and textile craftspeople at work. Lively musicians play merry folk melodies and taverns treat their guests to tasty local beer.
Folk songs are a very important part of Lithuania's culture and heritage. Song and dance festivals are hugely popular and have been internationally acclaimed, the biggest of which is the Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival, which has been put on the UNESCO list of verbal heritage masterpieces. It takes place every 4 years and attracts thousands of participants and audiences from all over the country and abroad.
Check out the detailed calendar of events taking place in Lithuania at www.LithuanianTravel.com or Vilnius at http://www.vilnius-events.lt/
For opera and ballet, classical music and theater schedules, go to www.opera.lt, www.filharmonija.lt and www.teatras.lt.