Crowd-Beloved Vilnius Light Festival Returns With Futuristic Illumination Art

Šviesų festivalis

© Saulius Žiūra

Vilnius will start its 700th-anniversary festivities on January 25th with the highly-anticipated fifth Vilnius Light Festival. Futuristic light solutions by internationally recognized creators will illuminate hidden courtyards, parks, and streets from January 25th to 28th.

January 20, 2023. The annual Vilnius Light Festival will light up the Lithuanian capital on January 25th-28th, 2023. This year the festival will pay tribute to the city’s grand 700th anniversary, officially launching the festivities on January 25th. The beginning of the festive year will be marked by a unique music and lights show Time Portal: An Event for Vilnius’ 700th Anniversary in Cathedral Square, where visitors will be invited to immerse into the world of ethereal illumination. The event will encompass a musical and visual journey through time—from the 14th century to the current times.

Vilnius Light Festival, returning to the capital for the fifth time, has already presented 77 projects from 16 world countries over the last four years and is visited by over 200K spectators each time. This month it will become the European capital of world-renowned artists from Lithuania, France, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Italy, showcasing exceptional light artistry slated to leave the spectators speechless.

Futuristic light art on city-wide route 

During the entire festival, the light art pieces located throughout the city will unravel the notions of time, objective reality, technologies, matter, and space, reflecting this Light Festival’s key theme—futurism.

Since Vilnius’s birthday dates back to 1323 when Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and the founder of Vilnius, mentioned the city in one of his letters to foreign merchants, one of the light installations will depict this significant point in history. A Lithuanian artist Arvydas Buinauskas will create a symbolic illumination crown for one of the draws of the city and the key object of the festival—Gediminas Castle. A copy of the Duke’s letter, which is kept in the archives in Riga and has been brought to Vilnius specifically for the birthday, will also be displayed in the Castle, making it one of the main Light Festival objects.

As a tribute to the seven centuries-worth of history, Lithuanian creators Vilnius Gediminas Technical University—Vilnius Tech—will collaborate with the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Technical University of Cologne, and Tampere University of Applied Sciences to display a visualization Vilnius X-Reality 700. It will be a fusion of animation and video games with Vilnius Town Hall architectural features that symbolizes the interaction between cultural memory and AI systems.

An Italian creator Cristian Rizzuti will present a laser installation Amnesia, which is the interpretation of memory—its rebirth, viability, and pulse. A Canadian digital art studio Iregular will display an installation Control No Control which has already traversed the globe—the minimalist geometric light installation has been presented to other countries 35 times, finally coming up to Lithuania for Vilnius Light Festival. A French artist Olivier Ratsi will bring their piece Onion Skin to Vilnius Picture Gallery. The creative graphic solution represents the time and space recomposition.

Like every year, light installations, creative illumination solutions on architectural objects, and digital art will be displayed in the most unexpected spots of the city: a 14th-century Franciscan Monastery in the Old Town, the Baroque-style Church of St. Catherine, the TV Tower as well as the hidden authentic urban yards, and the squares and parks frequented by the locals and city guests. The spectators will get a unique opportunity to get a glimpse into an otherwordly night-time Vilnius—700 years young, bold, and vibrant. A festival’s updated app, available at the App Store and Google Play, will display the route with all the objects set up within walkable distances. 

700th birthday festivities throughout all of 2023

Vilnius has been celebrating with pre-700th birthday events throughout the past two years and is making 2023 its most festive year ever. To make it memorable for the guests and residents, the city has presented seven projects as gifts of art, music, and interactive history.

Opera. Connect: Vilnius, a City of Opera will spread the gift of opera in the most unexpected spots of the city; Vilnius Poker: The Exhibition will invite visitors to MO modern art museum to explore the city-labyrinth of text, sound, and images,  Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago will offer the chance to explore the reimagined 19th century Vilnius; Music for Vilnius will invite world-known compositors to represent Vilnius’ sounds in short musical pieces spread out across the city.

On 25 July 2023, Vilnius will host the international music festival As Young As Vilnius where international classical, contemporary, pop, and other artists will put on an impressive music show in Vingis Park.