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The fifth Vilnius Lights Festival is dedicated to the city’s 700th anniversary and is full of futuristic spirit

The Vilnius Lights Festival welcomes the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, the young city of the future, by creating a modern art exhibition featuring famous artists and seventeen original, dynamic, conceptual art installations – from the 25th to the 28th of January.

Every year, on the 25th of January, the Vilnius Lights Festival marks the occasion of the city’s birthday. The festival was first held in 2019 and, since then, continued the tradition of a bright celebration; this year, it will be held for the fifth time and will congratulate Vilnius on its 700th anniversary.

“Duke Gediminas sent one of his famous letters on January 25, 1323, as if illuminating this little-known Western European land to the eyes of Europeans and permanently placing Vilnius on the map of Europe. This day is now considered to be the birthday of Vilnius. For the past five years, we have vibrantly celebrated Vilnius birthdays, growing the tradition of the Lights Festival, inspiring Vilnius residents and visitors to enjoy the city, highlighting its architecture, life, and contemporary ideas with the magic of lights,” said Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

Theme of Lights Festival is – futurism 

The young and modern city of Vilnius is celebrating its anniversary this year by holding the annual Lights Festival. The festival’s central visual identity is the Vilnius Television Tower, 326 meters high, which is visible from almost any part of the capital and even included in the world’s tallest buildings list. The tower has been transformed into an alien spaceship, moving towards the vastness of the sky as a metaphor for the desire to explore new galaxies and a reference to this year’s festival theme – futurism.

The annual festival will return for the fifth time. It will invite visitors to look at the city differently and expand their perception and understanding of time, objective reality, optical illusions, matter, space, and contemporary technologies’ artistic possibilities. Seventeen exceptional works of modern art will be exhibited in and around the capital’s Old Town from the 25th to the 28th of January.

During the past four years, the annual Vilnius festival has presented 77 exciting projects from 16 countries. This year is even more special since it marks a grand anniversary. The festival program swears to create new unforgettable experiences and amaze visitors with spatial light and sound installations, video projections, and dynamic and interactive artistic installations that have never been seen in Lithuania.

“Vilnius’ anniversary is a special occasion to celebrate, which doubles as the Vilnius Lights Festival. For a few magical evenings, it gives you an exceptional opportunity to admire the lively city and the Old Town area, which transforms into a gallery of modern art with breathtaking lit-up installations. We invite you to celebrate the 700th anniversary together, participating actively and openly, striving for new experiences!”  invites Paulius Jurgutis, the Director of the Vilnius Culture Centre and the organizer of the festival.

Famous names amongst the participants

This year the festival will feature world-renowned artists such as Olivier Ratsi (France), Philippe Morvan (France), Cristian Rizzuti (Italy), the digital art studio Iregular (Canada), and the interdisciplinary design studio Architecture Social Club (UK), and a collaboration with the renowned electronic music composer, producer, and performer Max Cooper. We will also see works by rising stars and bright talents from France, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, and Lithuania.

At night, a new light will be shed on several Vilnius courtyards of the Baroque Old Town, the capital’s heritage sites, main symbols, and squares. Some locations, such as courtyards, which have retained their authenticity, are little known and rarely accessible, thus making the occasion much more magical.

Festival route via smartphone app 

The mobile app will help you see all the objects of the Lights Festival without getting lost along the way. The convenient festival route is located in the heart of Vilnius. You can download or update it here: App Store: http://bit.ly/vilniuslightfestival; Google Play http://bit.ly/vilniuslightfestival1.

Exhibition stores – 17 installations

The beginning of the grand Lights Festival and the city’s birthday will be announced by the crown-shaped decoration of lights on the tower of Gediminas castle, which is seen from the furthest corners of the city. The installation is called Invitation (liet. kvietimas) and was created by the renowned light artist Arvydas Buinauskas

Installation AETHER

At St. Catherine’s Church (Vilniaus St. 30), visitors will experience an extraordinary, almost psychedelic experience. Aether will be presented by the world-renowned duo from Great Britain – electronic music composer and producer Max Cooper and London-based interdisciplinary design studio Architecture Social Club. Hanging in the darkness beneath the vaults of the temple, Aether, a magnetic installation of light, sound, and 3D video, will shackle the audience’s senses and emotions with a three-dimensional dance of light, color, shape, and music.

In the courtyard of the Lithuanian Theatre Music and Film Museum (Vilniaus st. 41), visitors will be greeted by a huge, touch-sensitive LED surface – Control No Control. An audiovisual installation by the Montreal (Canada) digital art studio “Iregular”, which experiments with light, sound, typography, algorithms, and artificial intelligence. This artwork was created in 2011 and has already been presented more than 35 times around the world.

The courtyard of the Radvila Palace Art Museum (Vilniaus st. 24) will be illuminated by Photonic Empathy, a modular lighting installation by the creative art studio “Lumus Instruments” from The Netherlands. This installation consists of three volumetric cuboid rectangles. The touch-sensitive and interactive artwork will invite the audience to change the installation look, colors, and depth of the installation. With a first touch, an empty frame of space transforms into beauty.

Next to Salomėja Neris gymnasium (Vilniaus st. 32), a huge light cube will light up. This cube contains 240 jars containing videos with digital features. This art installation, Supercube, was created by the French artist Stéphane Masson, who is fond of introducing a touch of madness into everyday life.

In the courtyard of the Alumnato (Universiteto st. 4), the festival explorers will be greeted by Amnesia, a laser projection on a canvas of chemical paints created by Italian Cristian Rizzuti. After the light touches the canvas, the color transfers to it and becomes tangible. The immersive work is conceived as a five-stage painting spectacle, where the circle canvas shape recovers the memory, its pulse, vitality, loss, and everything that remains.

From the courtyard of St Ignatius Church (Šv. Ignoto St. 6), the monumental installation Message of Freedom will send the message to the world of a young, innovative, and growing 700-year-old Vilnius. A powerful, bright beam of light will be seen in the capital’s night sky.

Olivier Ratsi  ONION SKIN

The installation Onion Skin will combine space and time and play with perspectives in the courtyard of the Vilnius Picture Gallery (Didžioji st. 4). A graphic work by the renowned French visual artist Olivier Ratsi, consists of a module of two walls arranged at right angles, complemented by video and sound projections. The artist encourages viewers to experience the work through their own personal reactions.

In Daukantas Square, European cultural diversity and the pursuit of freedom will be celebrated by the memorial light and sound installation Menschen created by Philippe Morvan, a prominent French scenic designer and light artist. The installation consists of 960 rectangles powered by batteries and retro-style torches.

Bokšto st. 17 will host a video and sound perspective experiment by the innovative Spanish audiovisual research studio “Playmodes.” Beyond – is an installation created by an artist passionate about art, music, science, and nature. It invites the audience to experience an immersive “journey without moving” in a 30-meter-long sound tunnel.

Philippe Morvan  MENSCHEN

A digital 3D audiovisual art project titled Art from the future (liet. Menas iš ateities), using innovative LED holograms will be presented in the courtyard of Vytautas Magnus Gymnasium (Augustijonų st. 8).

Stuokos-Gucevičius Square will be lit up by the kinetic installation Light Sphere – a kinetic sculpture by British artist Tom Wilkinson, who gets inspiration from astronomy and physics. The installation symbolizes the constant movement and cyclical nature of our environment.

Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VILNIUS TECH), Cologne Academy of Media Arts and Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Germany), and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland) will collaborate for a project dedicated to the 700th anniversary of Vilnius – a video installation called Vilnius X-Reality 700. The unique artwork, which reflects the information technologies of renowned designers and visualizers, will tell the story of Vilnius city which will be displayed on the building of Vilnius City Hall (Didžioji St. 31).

Visitors of Vilnius University’s Great Courtyard (Universiteto st. 3) will be greeted by the long withstanding buildings illuminated by spatial light structures, usually silent. The play of light in the video installation Dialogues, created by the Lithuanian design studio “Video Architects,” will highlight historical architectural values. At the same time, the metamorphosis of the buildings will encourage a dialogue between science and the sacral.

Video Architects video projection  DIALOGAI

The quartet of movement, light, art, and music invites you to visit the Art and Science Laboratory (MMLAB / Vokiečių st. 13A) and enjoy the view of Vilnius city from a surreal balcony, otherwise called the performance/installation The Surreality of Vilnius Balcony (liet. Vilniaus balkono siurrealybė). This balcony is a space where unnecessary objects or habits, moments of respite, laundry, garden plants, or bird feeders find a place. Here it isn’t easy to draw a line between private and public space. During the live performance, the streets of the old map of Vilnius will come to life through bird’s-eye views of the modern city, which will zoom in and out of individual abstractions and the dreamlike anatomy of both man and Vilnius. Ignas Juzokas will compose and perform live music on a modular synthesizer during the performance.

Guests of the festival will be greeted in Cathedral Square by an installation-turned-monument titled Today’s Gediminas (liet. Nūdienos Gediminas), the founder of Vilnius city, the Grand Duke Gediminas. Here the sword of Gediminas will shine again, as it does during every Vilnius Lights Festival.

During the festival, a video projection narrative, Time Portal, about Vilnius and its past and future symbols will be available on the facade of the Cathedral Square. On the 25th of January, the video projection will be shown after the main birthday event, and on the 26th-28th of January, from 6 pm to 11 pm.

Sirvydas Square – catering and entertainment area

During the festival, Vilnius Konstantinas Sirvydas Square will become both a host for entertainment and a catering zone with meals on wheels inviting visitors to warm up and grab a bite.

Fifth Vilnius Lights Festival – only four spectacular evenings. From the 25th -28th of January, 6 pm to 11 pm.