In Lithuania, Kaunas 2022 is celebrating its European Capital of Culture title year. For this reason a 35-member Estonian delegation visited the city to enjoy the festivities together. Thanks to Tartu 2024 I got the opportunity to accompany them.
Photos: Izabella Eck
I was really excited to spend these three days in Kaunas because I’ve never been to Lithuania before. In addition to that, it was my first time experiencing an ECoC project in real life, not just on paper. We went by bus from Tartu which meant I had the chance to see a little bit of Southern Estonia and Latvia as well.
This year the city celebrated its birthday in a very special way, with the grand weekend of The Confluence which is the second act of the Contemporary Myth of Kaunas Trilogy.
After a very long 8-hour bus ride we finally arrived in Kaunas. Our first event was the Courtyard Festival which was a more than 1 kilometre long line of dinner tables across the main street in the city centre. The tables were set up by different communities, organisations including other ECoC cities, decorating them with flowers, tablecloths and of course, food. It was a huge dinner with hundreds of people and I even got the chance to meet members from the Hungarian team.
On Saturday, we visited three exhibitions; ‘Memory of Being’ by Marina Abramović, Yoko Ono’s installation ‘Ex It’, and ‘1972: Breaking Through the Wall’. I would say they were quite unusual referring to the topics and visuals. When I hear the word ‘exhibition’, a museum pops up in my head with historical objects and paintings with long descriptions that nobody reads. This time I saw video installations with sounds and abstract art pieces, that made the whole experience even more interesting.
Sauna tents were put up along the river and since I was spending my time with Estonian people and it was a Saturday - which is obviously sauna day - we could not leave without trying at least one. We tried five different saunas and soon we became familiar with the traditions and etiquettes. For example, in Lithuania it’s called ‘pirtis’ because it’s different from the well-known Finnish sauna. I think I’m starting to understand the Estonian people's obsession for sauna because I have never felt more relaxed in my whole life after spending 2,5 hours in the steam.
On Saturday evening, we witnessed The Confluence performance itself. Despite the weather around countless people gathered along the river Nemunas to see the show. The concept was to tell a story with the help of music, lights, fireworks and other visual elements. I would only mention one detail that could have been done better. The story was in Lithuanian and at least for me the English subtitles were not visible enough which made it a little bit more difficult to understand. Except for that the whole performance was extremely spectacular and well-planned.
It was such an exciting experience seeing this cultural event finally happening and it made me realise that I can’t wait for our title year to start!