Whether it’s enjoying a night of performances in the capital at ‘Culture Night’, indulging your taste buds at Palanga smelt fish festival or adventuring through Curonian Spit National Park – Lithuania is home to some of the most unique and unforgettable experiences on the planet. With Carnival, or, Mardi Gras just around the corner, now is the perfect time to visit.
Party at Carnival
Užgavėnės, or Carnival, is Lithuania’s version of Mardi Gras and takes place on 28th February 2017 but the celebrations start the weekend before on 25th of February. Visitors to the country can expect to see frenzied crowds asking for pancakes and sweets and locals dressed up in elaborate costumes.
This winter festival was believed to wake the frost-bound land from its sleep and one of the main traditions sees participants dressed up as beasts, devils, witches, or scary demons with masks. Traditional hodge podge is eaten, massive pancakes are baked, songs are sung, and a fight between the festival characters Kanapinis and Lasininis takes place. The Carnival culminates in a crowning by burning the winter symbol More.
Treat your taste buds
Foodies visiting Lithuania won’t be disappointed by Palanga smelt, a fish festival taking place on the 13th February 2017. The entire Basanavičiaus high street in Palanga is transformed into a massive open-air restaurant during this culinary festival where locals and visitors alike can try smelt. For those feeling particularly adventurous, visitors can try their hand at catching some fish themselves at the Sea Bridge where angling competitions are held, or take a dip in the harbour.
In July, travellers can indulge their taste buds at the Cucumber festival in Kedainiai or Cherry festival in Zagare. As its name suggests, the Cucumber festival is all about the green vegetable with tastings of soup, pickles and cucumbers with honey available. There are also many concerts and art events to enjoy throughout. Those with a sweeter tooth can attend cherry jam making camp, try cherry wine and sweets, and enjoy jazz music at Zagare’s Cherry festival.
Go on an adventure through Curonian Spit
Curonian Spit, Lithuania credit: rusm
UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Curonian Spit National Park is unmissable for those seeking an escape from city life. Established in 1991 to protect the rare ecosystem, the spit is refreshingly wild and undeveloped providing a truly unforgettable adventure. Visitors to the park can enjoy many activities including walking or biking through the sand dunes, wandering past old fishing villages, spotting an array of wildlife including deer, moose and elk and marveling at the quirky wooden art found at Witches’ Hill.
Book worms can also visit writer and literature Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann’s old summer house, which is now a museum, or attend the Thomas Mann festival during the summer. Curonian Spit also caters for foodies and is famous for its smoked fish. Visitors can pick up the tasty treat at many local shops and street stalls. The town of Nidais also world renowned for its amber and travellers can relax and unwind with an amber massage, trip to the amber spa, or time in an amber sauna.
Enjoy an alternative Easter
Easter is one of the biggest events in the Lithuanian calendar and one of the country’s unique traditions is to ornately paint Easter eggs using natural dyes extracted from bark, leaves, fruit and vegetables. These, along with other treats, are delivered by the Easter Granny and children prepare for her arrival by leaving empty homemade egg nests outside their homes and on Easter morning they wake up to search for their hidden treasures.
Visitors and families can enjoy games with Easter eggs, singing and dancing in Lithuania’s squares and courtyards.
Relax and unwind
Located just a short drive from the capital, Vilnius, Birstonas and Druskininkai are known for their spa experiences. Birstonas is a quiet and exclusive spa town which has attracted visitors because of its curative therapies and mineral waters for centuries. The resort has a number of recently opened or renewed spas.
Alternatively, Druskininkai – a spa town on the Nemunas River in southern Lithuania – provides visitors with a wealth of activities including indoor skiing, an adventure and water park, and a quirky open-air museum of Soviet sculptures nearby in Grutas Park. Here, visitors can experience life in the Soviet Union with Lenin and Stalin sculptures everywhere, radio speakers announcing “news in the Union”, and meals in the Soviet style canteen.
Immerse yourself in the night
Stemming from the belief that darkness allows someone to be fully immersed into culture and lets imaginations run wild, ‘Culture Night’ invites visitors to the country’s capital, Vilnius, for its annual event which sees over 200 performances across one night, from dusk to dawn.
It’s a free event which will take placeon 16th June 2017 with performances in the city’s squares, which are transformed into a network of stages forsingers, dancers, musicians, actors and other artists from Lithuania and beyond.
For further information on Lithuania, please visit www.lithuania.travel/en-gb
Like what you see in Lithuania? Come to the TNT Travel Show powered by StudentUniverse on March 4th – operators such as Tucan Travel and Topdeck will be there with great exclusive offers on trips to the Baltics – register for free entry