Ideas and history
Vilnius has long been famous as a multinational and multicultural city, with deep cultural traditions. It is a lively and creative city. The Culture Night, well-liked by both, the residents and guests of Vilnius, will be organized for the eighth year already. The Culture Night is a festival of culture open to everybody and introducing over 150 projects of different spheres of modern art. The event was inspired by the unique idea of La Nuit Blanche and good practices of other cities that have successfully adopted the concept of the festival. The cycle of Culture Night events started in 2007, as a part of the national programme “Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009” and has evolved into a new cultural tradition of Vilnius City. There is no other event, organized annually in the capital city, that has any analogues in terms of abundance and diversity of events.
In the darkness of the Culture Night the theatres, museums, galleries and churches open their doors; music, cinema, dances and installations flood the city spreading over its unique spaces – parks, squares, avenues, small yards and streets of the Old Town. Every year around 500 professional artists, representing different spheres of art, participate in the night festival. The number of the Culture Night events keeps growing with more than 100 projects of different forms offered by artists in recent years.
In our opinion, the main tendency of the ‘Culture Night’, is the quality of projects participating in the festival, upon which depends the development of image and prestige of the event. The ‘Culture Night’ is an open event, during which, not only the professional artists, but also permanent residents and guests of the city become a part of the cultural fuss. The aim of the event is to help the society to discover modern art and indulge in it not only as observes, but also as participants, introducing the event through the dialogue between artists and the audience on the subject of modern values and continuously changing environment and in a way, acceptable to people.
Assessment and recognition
- 10 years of experience and a big number of loyal artists and organizations.
- 2011 – an award for “The most successful Lithuanian cultural tourism project”.
- 2013 – admission to the “Nuit Blanche” network, connecting the world‘s best culture night festivals.
- 2013 – the main cultural event for the opening of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
- 2015 – 2016 – nominated for the EFFE (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe) label.
- 2015 – Festival “Culture night” named as good practice example in national level and was mentioned in research “Lithuania 2030” strategy realization (by Lithuanian government).
- 2017 – nominated for the EFFE (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe) label.
To become the most spectacular, innovative art festival in Lithuania and Eastern Europe, enrich people free time, surprise and gratify.
- Take strong strategic position in sector of arts and culture, promote art organizations, encourage individual artists to initiate and disseminate ideas and develop regional and international partnership;
- Increase demand for cultural leisure time;
- Promote renewal of arts and culture in Lithuania, education and initiatives of young artists; strengthen demand for cultural leisure time and cultural activity of the citizens.
- Promote cultural citizenship and sociality by giving a possibility to attend and engage to cultural activities and initiate cultural projects realization ensuring their continuity.
- To ensure growth of the festival in the long run, improve festival organizational team‘s competence and knowledge, also to update the newest IT technologies in order to optimize work.
- To contribute in creation of Vilnius image and to encourage cultural tourism in Lithuania.
Ideas and history
The night from the 17th to 18th of June anniversary of 10th “Culture Night” has taken place. The festival which became a tradition surprised the residents and guests of Vilnius with the various types of artistic projects which filled opened and closed spaces of the city. This year “Culture Night” was based on motto ‘Night changes everything”.
This year, one night festival, which is becoming more and more popular, attracted many foreign artists who shared their work of art and performances with the growing interest audience. The “Arts Printing House” together with well-known foreign artists organized a night of contemporary circus night. The French artists “Marcel ses Drôles de Femmes” presented bravery, creativity and challenges dominated aerobatics show “Miss Dolly” with the elements of burlesque and western. The Finnish artists “Race Horse Company” surprised the visitors by their performance on wheels “Motosikai”, which was appreciated in the whole Europe. The dance troupe from Croatia called “&M Dance Company” presented a dynamic performance “Prison of Decision” at Vilnius Picture Gallery. The Dutch artist Gijs van Bon presented his sand writer “Skryf” which wrote haiku created by Vilnius citizens at Cathedral Square. Also, in order to celebrate the collaboration between Vilnius and Krakow 25 years anniversary, the “KTO Theatre” presented a contemporary mobile theatre performance “Peregrinus” which was created in Poland. Meanwhile, the Spanish actor and film director Adrian Schvarzstein, who together with lithuanian dancer and choreographer Jūrate Širvyte created a duet “Arrived”, presented their moving and interactive project “Malina”. This duet explained, how would a person feel if he was hiding in the shelter for 75 years from the horror of holocaust and finally come to this world to face their fears and saw celebrating Vilnius city.
During the 10 th “Culture Night” a lot of visual installations took a place. The light installations made Vilnius even more beautiful : Urtė Milda Širvinskaitė and Bartosh Polonkski presented their installation – performance “Connection” at Town Hall square, artist Vėjas Aliukas created an interactive laser and sound installation “Horizon” at Reformatai Park, Donatas Norušis surprised with an installation consisting of the elements of sculpture and light “Intermediate Version of Human” at Vincas Kudirka square, also artists Kristina Šaltytė and Domas Ignatavičius presented their project “Arch” at Šventaragis Valley. Also, the artists of “Culture Night” in order to revive and make Vilnius more beautiful, paid a lot of attention to the bridges which connected the river coasts. The science, art and modern technologies synthesis movement “Sintezija” attracted visitors to their project “Vilnius is talking. On air: the Green Bridge”, also a joint project of “Adam decolight” and Vilnius College of Technologies and Design presented their project “Shine on Me Again” which let to discover different Vilnius White bridge. Vilnius Presidential Palace invited the visitors of the festival to see glowing “Garden of Europe” which was created by Rūta Ivaškevičiūtė, Jonas Liugaila and Justė Brukštutė. Meanwhile, the visitors of the festival had a chance to be the first to discover an interactive, engaging and great fun projection with all selected art works from “Europeana 280 Jumping Jacks” at the square by Radvilai Palace.
This year‘s program was dedicated and drew a lot of attention to light and live sound performances. The artists from Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Estonia presented different northern culture interpretations of music at the square by Radvilai Palace. The audience was also surprised by “The Antique teeth of Kashpirovysky” who hang 4 metres from the ground at Šventaragis Valley. At the same time, Lithuanian Theatre, Music and Cinema Museum surprised by extraordinary performances which connected lithuanian classics of cinema and rap music. Also, events which already became a tradition took a place: “LRT OPUS stage”, “Palace of the Grand Dukes”, “Black and White”.
The anniversary of “Culture Night’ was also centered on “The city of educated Family”. The youngest and the oldest visitors of “Culture Night” were invited to participate in different activities at Bernardinai Garden. It was a space which had gathered nearly half a hundred of creators. Children and grown-ups saw, tried and felt the educational variety of different types of culture and art and gave away a bunch of meaningful leisure time ideas and positive emotions.
In 2016, “Culture Night” invited the visitors to a few Vilnius churches which suggested various interesting programs. During the festival, after twenty years of silence, one of the most artistic spots in Vilnius – St. Virgin Mary of Consolation church, which was turned into a vegetable warehouse during Soviet times, opened for society and art. The three storeys of the former church hosted various culture and art projects: starting from the contemporary dance performance “Forest Liturgy” and finishing with Auris Radzevičius installation “(Not) different world”. Church of St. apostles Philip and Jacob presented the guests from the Netherlands Auke de Boer and Bauke Reitsma with a project “The Story of Ringing Bells”. These artists presented carillon, telling the musical stories from the Renaissance to present day. Also, the visitors of “Culture Night” had a chance to visit events at Church of St. Johns and The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church.
The 10th “Culture Night” vivid program was created by the help of many culture and art institutions, more than 700 artists presented their artwork, 11 foreign culture institutions and embassies participated in it and 220 volunteers took care of the success of the festival. In order to preserve this traditional festival, everything was filmed and made into a documentary movie.
During the night of 20th to 21th in June the ninth “Culture Night” has taken place. It was based on motto “Darkness reveals more”. This time festival gave an opportunity for visitors to enjoy museums, galleries, theatres and even churches. The whole Vilnius city was filled with different kind of performances: dance, movie, music, installations and etc.
The special attention was given to improvizations, visual projects and performances on water. Many artists presented their projects in order to restore or decorate special Vilnius city places. Parks, bridges, rivers and abandoned spaces were brought to life and gave many creators an opportunity to demonstrate their creative skills. The most popular projects were Urtė Milda Širvinskaitė light and video installation “Microscope“, Linas Kutavičius light installation “Under the bridge” and many more.
Moreover this year many foreign artists (to be exact – fifteen of them) joined the festival and presented their projects. “Culture Night” began with czech artist David Černy installation “Hanging Man”. Vilnius street was filled with irish and french theater and circus performances. Meanwhile in Vilnius Picture Gallery courtyard theater “Cie SÔLTA“ presented their work. Presidential palace held “Northern countries stage” and in S. Daukantas square spanish spectacle “Te Odiero“ was shown. Also in Contemporary Art Center artists Volker Morawe and Tilman Reiff presented their works in exhibition “No pain, no game”.
During the festival the visitors enjoyed musical performances too. There were a lot of concerts in order to fulfill everyone’s musical taste. “LRT Opus stage”, “Loftas”, “Piano.lt” presented new and younger audience music, meanwhile Royal Palace and St. Jonas church gave an opportunity to listen to classical music.
For the third time youngest festival visitors and families with children enjoyed “Family space” which was created in Bernardinai garden. There were a lot of carefully selected and special events for playful and energetic audience: creative workshops, musical and theater performances, games and animation movies were presented.
It is important to mention that this year “Culture Night” got “Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe” (EFFE) label and was included in Lithuanian government strategy as good festival example.
2014 is the year of the theater, so this year the visitors of ‘Culture night‘ will enjoy dozens of plays. Due to the fact that in 2013 the ‘Family area’ and the events of similar nature attracted many viewers, this year even more attention will be paid to families and our little visitors.
In 2013, foreign artists joined the programme with their projects: in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania the Georgian choreographic drama ‘Karmen’ took place, Vilnius City Hall attracted visitors with Armenian concert performed by ‘Khachaturian Trio’, a steady urban pulse was perturbed by the street clownade from Spain – ‘Su Seso Taladro’, the British Council invited British artist Kathy Hinde with ‘Piano Migrations’ project, which included an audiovisual installation, a workshop for children, and a music show, French artists presented the ‘Purple Rain’ project, recommended by ‘La Nuit Blanche’ – the international all-night art festival network. A joint project was also developed by Lithuanian and Scandinavian artists: ‘Nordic Stage’ together with ‘Avaspo Poetry’ showed the audiovisual performance ‘Recycling Rituals’, moreover, performers from Norway Johan Mahtte Skum and Sanna Andersson gave a concert of archaic songs of the northern part of Scandinavia.
The festival also included some traditional events: concerts for the youth, film screenings on the grass with ‘The Cinema Spring’, a piano music concert, performed by Petras Geniušas at Lukiškės Square and Domantas Razauskas concert at ‘Rotunda’, which was brought back to life for one night. The permanent residents and guests had an opportunity to take part in various creative workshops, check the photo exhibitions, visit a special family area settled in Šventaragis Valley, as well as the galleries and museums offering special programmes.
Even more embassies and cultural institutes of foreign countries joined the ‘Culture Night’ in 2013: the British Council, the Embassy of Spain, the Embassy of Italy and Italian Cultural Institute, Goethe Institute, French Institute in Lithuania, the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, the Embassy of Armenia, the Embassy of Ireland, the European Humanities University, the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia, the Embassy of Hungary, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden, Polish Cultural Institute, Russian Cultural Institute, the Embassy of Romania, and the Embassy of Finland.
Lithuanian artists from Vilnius, as well as Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys and other towns participated in the festival. Many educational institutions (Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius University, Vilnius College of Design, etc.) got involved in the project as well: their students were actively working on exhibitions, light installations, and other projects. Many museums and galleries were open in Vilnius during the night and for the first time this year the programme was joined by the Museum of Genocide Victims. A spectacular programme for the guests of the festival was prepared by the ‘Arts Printing House’, ‘Sandglasses’ – a joint project of Lithuanian and foreign artists, which has already been appreciated in other countries, was performed even twice.
During the sixth ‘Culture Night’ organized in the night from 16 to 17 June people did not sleep and visited hundreds of events. From 6.00 p.m. until 2.00 a.m. the participants of the festival were enjoying a record number of 130 free events. Attracted by culture and good weather more than 150 000 visitors of the festival went out to the streets of Vilnius. More than 150 volunteers helped them not to get lost in the darkness and guided them through the abundance of events.
The main institutions of art: national and private theatres, museums and galleries opened their doors for visitors during the sixth ‘Culture Night’. Several theatres presented their first night plays. The most distinct of them – a play of Kaunas ‘Psilikonas’ theatre by O. Wilde – ‘Tear the soul’ accompanied by live sounds of the jazz trio ‘Jazzator’ from Moscow. Thanks to the French institute, the ‘Puppet’ theatre yard welcomed the retrospective of the puppet animation originator Vladislavas Starevičius, with a new music ‘robe’ composed by the famous French pianist Jacques Cambra and the duet of musicians Remigijus Rančys and Vytautas Labutis.
For the first time the ‘Culture Night’ was also allowed to enter the dominion of the Presidential palace – its inner yard was occupied by vocal and instrumental music groups and S. Daukantas square, which hosted the ‘Seesam’ dance floor, attracted crowds of enthusiasts, willing to learn how to dance.
The project hasn’t disappointed the music lovers either, as music of different genres filled numerous stages set up in the city. In Gucevičius Square gongs invited to meditate, jazz sounds streamed from the National Drama Theatre and popular young artists participated in the concert, held in the courtyard of the Lithuanian Theatre, Music and Cinema Museum. The same as every year, the fortepiano music stage in Lukiškės Square attracted great attention of the audience. Traditionally, the old Rotunda in Sereikiškės was brought to life for one night. It swayed with the sounds of music, lyrics and lights ‘conducted’ by the bard Domantas Razauskas and poems recited by the most outstanding Lithuanian poets. The churches of Vilnius invited to the concerts of classical music: the organ music and concerts given by chamber orchestras.
The organizers of the event were also amazed by creative powers of the academic youth. The College of Design and Technology, Vilnius College of Arts, Vytautas Magnus Gymnasium, and Kazimieras Simonavičius University were also participating in the festival that year.
The fifth program of ‘Culture Night’ offered an unexpected mix of culture and darkness. The real-life and fantasy creatures met when the barrier between reality and fantasy melted in the dark. Art Meccas, parks, squares and churches of the city, the greenery and leafage of the trees and even the water of the river Neris were filled with the magic of the night and all this was the ‘Culture Night’.
At first the visitors of numerous cultural and musical events were scared off by the rain, but … That night more than one hundred different events took place in the city. From theatrical plays to religious adorations in the church, from classic music concerts to an electronic all night long spree and, finally, from extreme tricks with skateboards and BMX type bicycles to simple quiet excursions on foot across Pavilniai Regional Park.
The year 2011 were announced as the European Year of Voluntary Activities and the ‘Culture Night’ was probably one of the biggest voluntary initiative and activity in Vilnius. The abundance of events of the fifth ‘Culture Night’ is a contribution of all the culture supporters and a gift to the city. The ‘Culture Night’ is a sort of a ‘magnet’ drawing people out from their homes. Crowds of thousands of people went out ‘to look for the art’… Some visitors of the ‘night’ were more attracted by the thought of an original entertainment and a chance to spend their Saturday evening in a different way, rather than cultural events or exhibitions themselves.
Modest financing of the project did not reduce the enthusiasm of the project organizers and artists and their aim to create an interesting and particularly exhaustive programme, consisting of more than 100 free events. For the first time in history of the ‘Culture Night’ all main theatres of the city participated in it. At night, more than 20 museums of the capital city opened their doors to the visitors.
In 2011, not only the enthusiasm of the participants, but also the innovativeness and scope of their ideas were a pleasant surprise. The ‘Culture Night’ was noted for its solid international programme which was actively supported by foreign embassies and institutes.
During one of the longest nights of the year, from 19 to 20 June, the permanent residents and guests of Vilnius city were once again invited to wander along the routes of lively Vilnius.
The night of culture ‘Let there be night!’ organized for the fourth time and held from 6.00 p.m. to 6 a.m. filled all the Old Town of Vilnius, Vingis Park and even Pilaitė forest with more than 80 free events attracting with their mysteriousness.
The programmes of the most popular genres – music, cinema, theatre and dance took place in more than 30 spaces of the city. Over 20 museums and galleries of the city opened their expositions at night and also invited to special art programmes.
In order to preserve one of the most popular cultural events of the city, around 70 culture, art and public organizations and more than 300 individual artists joined their efforts for the common goal. The events of the ‘Culture Night’ were traditionally organized in squares, halls, galleries, churches, parks and small yards of the Old Town.
During the film screenings, which lasted until dawn, the best films created by young authors participating in the short film festival ‘Vilnius Film Shorts 2009’ from Spain, Germany, Russia and Israel were introduced. Moreover, for the first time during the night of culture, cinema fans could enjoy the films created by ‘Skalvija Film Academy’ students. ‘Skalvija’ cinema theatre also offered a good cinema programme, lasting till morning.
The event was also interspersed with elements of horror inviting the bravest spectators to watch horror films in the ‘Horror cellar’ of the Energy and Technology Museum. Vilnius University Museum of Medicine History organized excursions to the pathology exposition, demonstrating the collection of surgical instruments.
Organizers of the project ‘Be good’, which is promoting the bone-marrow donor awareness, invited everybody to gather near the White Bridge to create together the ‘Live sky’ letting up to the sky hundreds of paper lanterns. The aim of this campaign was to remind everybody that not only the sky, but also the life can be lit in the dark of the night.
In 2009, Vilnius became the European Capital of Culture. 57 cultural events invited Admirers of the traditional night programme could discover events that were already ‘tasted’, such as poetry nights or the night programme of Bernardinai Church. The visitors of the event were also able to assess the ‘art dishes’ of the most recent recipes: listen to the thousand-year old European music with its modern reflections, enjoy Sonata No 7 of Ludwig van Beethoven, visit the ice-cream café Rotunda brought back to life by decorations and art projects in Sereikiškės Park, listen to the texts of books about Vilnius written by Ričardas Gavelis and Jurgis Kunčinas and read by actors in the city transport or simply leave their imprint in clay which later found its place in the city with the help of an open workshop of ceramics.visitors at night, from 20 to 21 June, for an event ‘Let there be night!’ in the Old Town of the capital city. For the third time the night of culture offered 50 events to the permanent residents of Vilnius. The marathon of ‘Let there be night!’ events has developed into a new tradition of Vilnius – the festival was organized for the third time already.