Impressive figures: Vilnius Festival of Lights attracted 200 000 visitors


More than 200 000 residents and guests of Vilnius celebrated the 697th birthday of the city at the Festival of Lights last weekend, and about 27 000 people used the festival’s mobile app. According to estimates, last year’s Festival of Lights was visited by about 130 000 people. During the festival, the city centre and the Old Town turned into a large open-air gallery of modern art, with light installations created not only by local artists, but also by artists from France, Romania, Slovenia and Latvia participating in it. What do participants and foreign visitors think about the Second Festival of Lights themselves?

Emilien Guesnard, a light artist from France, who has considered light to be a special form of expression since childhood, introduced a hypnotic light and sound installation of 200 nautical lamps called “Order 200” in the courtyard of the Old Palace of the Academy of Fine Arts. He was fascinated by Vilnius, its Old Town and efforts of the festival organizers.

“It is absolutely fantastic what you have done! The Festival’s programme is interesting and really attracts attention. I want to thank you for having me here. It is amazing how you managed to achieve truly surprising results with the resources that you have”, said Emilien Guesnard, who also participated in one of the Europe’s largest festival of lights “La Fete des Lumieres” in Lyon.

For Lithuanian light artists, the festival became a great space for growth and implementation off their ideas.

“The festival left the most positive impressions. It was a pleasure to feel such a great interest that visitors had in art installations and to see the works of other artists. We are delighted that residents and guests of the city are so eager to participate in cultural events”, Gabrielė Dirmontaitė, the author of the installation “Process”, rejoiced over the new exciting experience and her first festival of lights.

The organizers of the festival are glad that the open event encouraged people to go out to the city, to take an interest in modern art, culture, and diversity of attitudes. It seemed like all of Vilnius took off to the streets on the weekend. Every evening, and especially on Saturday, tens of thousands of curious spectators flooded the route of the Vilnius Festival of Lights.

“The second Festival of Lights of Vilnius was a good start. We will not stop growing and improving. We hope to surprise and implement the most incredible ideas every year celebrating the birthday of Vilnius with even more lights and creativity. We will celebrate the 700th anniversary of Gediminas’ city as one of the brightest light festivals in Europe”, promised Paulius Jurgutis, the head of the Vilnius Cultural Center and one of the organizers of the Festival of Lights in the capital.

Simonas Eismontas, the author of the audio-visual installation “Taktas”, which combines contemporary electronic music with modern light technologies in the courtyard of the Faculty of History of Vilnius University, also took part in the first Vilnius Festival of Lights and shared his impressions of the event: “I am creating all the time. I mainly create for private events and I do not have many opportunities to show my works to the public of Vilnius, so for me, this festival is an opportunity to “meet” residents of the city. I was busy working and could not see all the installations, but my colleagues told me that this year the quality bar was lifted even higher, and the organizers were fantastic”.

This weekend, the artist Kotryna Čalkaitė, who has taken part in more than 15 festivals of lights, presented a colourful installation “Quietly Speaking Colours”, which she created in memory of her father, displayed in the narrow Skapo Street, admits that participating in the festival is a very important experience for her and an opportunity to express and share it with others.

“Light allows telling many stories, evoking many good emotions and showing what’s real. This is my hobby, so I always try to create and look for events which I could attend. I find my new favourites in each festival, I get acquainted with the artists who create them, and I also follow what’s going on in the world”, says K. Čalkaitė.

The interactive light installation “Labirintas” by Jurga Marcinauskaitė, which visitors of the festival found really interesting, will invite to the courtyard of Vilnius Teachers’ House to get lost in it and to experience it until February 16. The courtyard will be open from 10 am to 6 pm.

With approaching 700th anniversary of Vilnius (in 2023), the Vilnius Festival of Lights, which has become the brightest and most massive event of the dark season of the year, will be one of the main highlights of the celebration of the capital’s birthday.