This year Kaunas is becoming one big European stage. Hundreds of artists, astonishing performances, world-class exhibitions, and numerous events await in the European Capital of Culture. The impressive programme is balanced for all culture lovers: event enthusiasts, art fans, music lovers, and city explorers. Transforming from temporary to contemporary, the city has never been so alive – do not miss the chance to be a part of an unforgettable adventure!
Summer is the best time to visit Kaunas. The city, born in the confluence of two rivers – Neris and Nemunas, can be proud of its verdurous parks, while the rich programme of events promises to turn the warm season into the busiest and most exciting period of the year. Let’s take a look at the surprises that Kaunas has prepared for its visitors this summer.
Galleries and museums will feature world-class artists’ works
Kaunas often becomes a shelter for art lovers. The city’s museums and galleries will surprise with high-level exhibitions and visits from artists from around the world. In the spring, all eyes were on the most recognisable art world figure to visit Kaunas – Marina Abramović, who gathered six thousand people to listen to a public lecture about performance art and life in art. In the summer organizers promise to offer new adventures waiting behind the doors of Kaunas museums and galleries.
The routes of contemporary art and culture lovers will meander between the exhibition “That Which We Do Not Remember” by the world-famous artist William Kentridge and the installation "Ex It" by Yoko Ono, the well-known non-conformist on the world art scene. At the beginning of the autumn, at the Kaunas Picture Gallery, another surprise awaits the artist's fans – a major retrospective exhibition of Yoko Ono’s work “The Learning Garden of Freedom” will be opened to the public. Those who did not manage to meet Marina Abramovich live will be able to visit her exhibition “Memory of Being”.
Those who want to get acquainted with the painful, yet hopeful history of Lithuania will be invited to immerse themselves in the stories of the exhibition “1972. Breaking through the wall”, which will surely touch a nerve. It will transport audiences to the 1960s and 1970s and the communities of disobedient people who resisted the system. This exhibition will tell the story of alternative culture and a non-Soviet lifestyle led in Soviet Lithuania.
Meetings with culture will be inevitable and will happen even in the most unexpected corners of the Kaunas district. The dredger-boat “Nemuno7” arrived in the town of Zapyškis and proudly became one of the most unique river engineering and landscape design projects in Europe, currently operating as a public cultural space. Artists' residences, creative laboratories and exhibitions have landed here. “Nemuno7” has already become the main attraction of the district, so plan your visit now– it must become a part of your bucket list.
For the joy of music lovers: musical events and festivals
The European Capital of Culture events focus on good, high-quality music. Throughout the year, Kaunas has been hosting concerts, music festivals and even operas. Summer is no exception. The warm season will offer a rich programme, varying from electronic to choral music sounds.
Summer music adventures will begin in the heart of Kaunas old town – The Town Hall square. Carefully selected artistic performances and hundreds of free events with the best Lithuanian and foreign musicians will be waiting at the “Summer Stage” located here.
Already in June, Kaunas will be hit by the “Storm” (“Audra”). Electronic, experimental, and acoustic music will spread in industrial, and less accessible spaces of the city. The Audra Youth and Contemporary Music Festival is an event that reflects the lifestyle, culture, and values of young people, building an inquisitive community through experiences, content, and bold discussions. This event will be an important and thunderous cultural revival for the entire region.
Meanwhile, fans of choral music will be attracted to the city by the jubilee, tenth international choir festival “Kaunas Cantat”. Many events of the festival will take place in public spaces, alleys, and streets of Kaunas – exactly where the real daily life of the city evolves. Festival organizers believe that choral music can be diverse and interesting: singing is the language of joy!
Unheard stories will spread in the city
Kaunas is a city of stories and legends, which has even created a new, modern myth for the year of the Capital of Culture! Thus, it is not surprising that one of the most important events of the summer is the unique CityTelling Festival, which gathers together artists, museum and theatre professionals, librarians, amateur history enthusiasts, and professional tellers of history. The festival will bring forgotten stories back to the daylight, strengthen the dialogue between different communities, and introduce the place where we live. The extensive programme includes exhibitions, performances, concerts, tours and professional storytelling performances.
Kaunas is the hometown of George Mačiūnas, the pioneer of the Fluxus movement. Fluxus is a sign of unconventional art, art without rules, creativity, and playfulness. This is exactly what Fluxus Festival, often called the carnival of the city, will offer this autumn. During the festival, one of the busiest streets of Kaunas is closed every year, and hundreds of participants with colourful costumes climb up Parodos Hill in the most unexpected ways. Fluxus is about never-ending movement and the drive to rise, climb, and change: from a temporary to contemporary capital. The Fluxus Festival will invite you to an extraordinary full-day programme.
Kaunas invites seekers of authentic experiences
Exciting events and exhibitions are not all that’s on offer. This year, Kaunas has introduced a unique hospitality programme “Experience Kaunas”. Tailor-made authentic routes, free guided tours by hospitable residents and special car rides revealing the secrets of Kaunas will allow you to explore the city from very up-close!
A stormy week in Kaunas: TOP 10 must-not-miss events at the Audra Festival
Summer is in full swing, and with that comes thunderous outdoor events too. One of the biggest this summer in Lithuania is Audra, a contemporary city festival in Kaunas. Taking place from 29 June to 3 July in the European Capital of Culture, Audra is a five-day music and art festival in the city's spaces. The sheer number of events will leave even the biggest gourmets baffled. But what if you want to see the best of the best? The festival curators share their tips on how not to get lost in the hectic festival and offer you 10 recommendations on what not to miss during the festival.
NR. 10: AN EVENING IN A BRUTALIST MASTERPIECE
On the very first evening of the festival on 29 June, the night will be devoted to the brutalist architecture masterpiece. For a single day Kaunas Taxi Park will become the venue for the performance by Italian electronic music composer Caterina Barbieri and the exclusive audiovisual installation "Hiding From The Inside" by Kamilė Rimkutė, Naurimas Michailiuk, Domas Verikas, Viliaus Smalinas and Paulius Varonenk. This free event will take place in the impressive 1978-built Kaunas Taxi Park in Vilijampolė. Today, due to its extremely picturesque location, the park is being considered for demolition, so this may be the first and probably the last opportunity to see a cultural event there.
NR. 9: BERLIN AT THE SOBOR
The super popular dance music radio station HÖR is moving from Berlin to Kaunas for this special occasion. On Thursday (30 June from 18:00 to 00:00), the radio station will be broadcasting directly from the Mykolas Žilinskas Art Gallery, right next to the famous Kaunas Sobor. The broadcast will be dedicated to the specials sets by Lithuanian DJs - Manfredas, Mario Moretti, Marios Paskevic with Meri Hov, Mamiko Motto and VHS Library.
NR. 8: MINIMALISM AND JAPANESE POLYPHONY
Among music geeks, this part of the programme is the most anticipated. It is the world premiere of "Silent Birds" by Japanese composer, percussionist and minimalist pioneer Midori Takada. The composer has been working on this piece for several months together with the local Lithuanian traditional polyphonic singing ensembles Gaudė and Devynragė. Midori Takada is famous for her unique approach to present new musical pieces each time she visits a foreign country, so the new piece has never been heard before. Midori Takada composed it with the crimes of Russian war in Ukraine in mind. The bird is a symbol of freedom for the Japanese artist, which will be using traditional Lithuanian and Japanese polyphonic singing elements. Why the polyphonic singing? Lithuania and Japan are the only countries where this style of singing is still alive. The event will take place on 30 June at 20:00 in the VMU Great Hall.
NR. 7: THE CLOSING AT THE CONFLUENCE
One of the most spectacular public, open and completely free events of the festival. It is the grand closing concert of the musical part of the festival at the most spectacular place in Kaunas - the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers. On 3 July, from 14:00 to 23:00, Estonian rap superstar Tommy Cash will perform here, supported by post-punk and alternative band BA., Lithuanian R&B innovator Free Finga and Kaunas rock stars Flash Voyage.
NR. 6: OCCUPIED YET OPEN GALLERY
The Mykolas Žilinskas Art Gallery, which was closed for reconstruction two years ago, will open its doors for a short time during the festival and will become the main space for the festival's artistic activities. From 30 June to 3 July, the gallery will be open free of charge from 12 noon to 10 pm. One of the most important exhibits is the installation "MR-808" by musicologist and robotic engineer Moritz Simon Geist, which presents a huge robotic drum machine that can be programmed live by the audience and allows visitors to create music in real time. The installation "(ne) išsakyti. (ne) žodžiai", an exhibition by artist GIA RAM, a VR zone, and on 1 July the performance "Me two / Savoj Krūvoj" by Vilnius City Dance Theatre "Low Air". Three immersive films - CONSCIOUS EXISTENCE, STRANDS OF MIND and PEACH GARDEN will be brought here in collaboration with French VR experience distributors "Diversion Cinema".
NR. 5: NOCTURNAL TALES OF THE CITY
At the M.Žilinskas Art Gallery, the action will continue during the night. On two consecutive evenings, 29-30 June, the visualisations of the audio festival „Banguoja" will be displayed on the facade of the gallery. During the night auditions, the event's organiser "Nepatogus kinas" will present a nightly open-air programme of audio documentaries. Visitors will be able to hear works by international and local audio artists in their original languages through wireless headphones.
NR. 4: LOVE, PEACE AND DANCING IN THE OAK PARK
The warmest, most anticipated and probably the most summery part of the festival is the spectacular free concert and open-air party in the sacred place of Kaunas - the Oak Park (Ąžuolynas). On Saturday (2 July from 14:00 to 22:00), the stage will host DJs Bradley Zero, Violet and Gabrielle Kwarteng, as well as bands Planeta Polar, Curly, Esa Afro-Synth Band, The Mauskovic Dance Band and others.
NR. 3: NFT FEVER AT THE MALL
Innovation is always one of the things that captures the imagination of artists. This is what the exhibition "NFThon: The Future“ is about. It is opening on Sunday (3 July) at the Akropolis Shopping Centre, highlighting a undiscovered synthesis of culture, blockchain-based innovation and sustainability that aims to inspire the next generation of artists, thinkers and responsible citizens.
NR. 2: KOMODA – FASHION FOR THE FUTURE
The Kaunas 2022 - European Capital of Culture Youth Programme project "KOMODA" started its work with the idea of giving Kaunas and Lithuanian creators a platform to showcase their work to the public.
This year, the project is organising a fashion event for the second year in a row, where 14 emerging designers from Lithuania and abroad will present their collections to a wide audience in Kaunas. The fashion show will take place in the garden of the War Museum on 1 July at 16:00.
NR. 1: TWO NIGHTS AT THE FACTORY
The focal point for discussing all the festival's impressions, for gatherings and for new friendships will be the two-night dance music programme organised by the nightclub Lizdas and the rave "Prisukamas Abrikosas". On both Friday and Saturday, from 10pm, the huge rave will take place in the former metal factory „Pergalė“ with the artists such as Helena Hauff, Job Jobse, Call Super, Partiboi69, Kittin & The Hacker, LSDXOXO or Hector Oaks.
This TOP 10 is just a small part of what will be on offer in Kaunas throughout the days of the Audra Festival.
The full programme of events can be found here: https://www.audrafestival.lt
The programme of the Audra Contemporary City Festival is co-produced by the youth organisation "Kylantis Kaunas", "Freimas" and the team of the nightclub "Lizdas", together with Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022, Pažaislis Music Festival, Kaunas City Chamber Theatre, various partners from Japan, Greece, Serbia, France, Germany, Estonia, Finland and other European countries.