Kernave's upcoming events

  • 2005-03-23
It's best to visit Kernave on a sunny day to get a panoramic view of the hill-forts, river valley and surrounding countryside.
While construction on a proper museum and visitors' center is due to end in 2-3 years, the tiny museum now displays only a fraction of the 15,000 artifacts in its collection. With this in mind, it's wisest to think of your outing as a clean-air escape from the city to take in the mystical aura of the ancient castle-mounds.

UNESCO official designation ceremony, 3rd week of May. The precise date for this once-in-a-lifetime ceremony, during which Lithuanian officials will receive a formal World Heritage Site certificate from UNESCO, is yet to be announced. Given that President Valdas Adamkus is one of only a handful of UNESCO goodwill ambassadors, he should be there. Details of the day's events are scanty right now but high pomp is to be expected.

Summer Solstice festival, June 21. This festival, which is variously called 'Rasos Svente,' 'Jonynes,' Midsummer Night, St. John's Eve, or just the longest day of the year, is an all-night celebration that attracts mostly young people (though all ages are welcome) who re-create pagan summer solstice rites 's mostly fertility rites, but don't let that keep you away. When compared to the commercial events marking this celebration in and around Vilnius 's i.e. drink-'til-you-drop, or 'til someone drops you in one of the many spontaneous brawls, then vomit and crawl home 's this is a tame and enjoyable experience. Young women float garlands down the river and watch to see which of the lads will fish them out to claim their hand. Men athletically leap over bonfires in a demonstration of masculinity, risking immolation or worse 's the very bravado they seek to demonstrate. And it's all accompanied to ancient songs that see off the sun ('Saule' 's in Lithuanian the sun is a woman) just after 11 pm, only to welcome it back a short while later.

Living Archaeology Days, July 8-10. This is the highlight of the year at Kernave, bringing archaeologists and artisans together to demonstrate what life might have been like during several epochs of Kernave history. The festival comes as special interest to children, since it's far more exciting than an excursion to a static museum. Previous years have seen live exhibitions of Stone Age archery, and numerous re-creations of ancient and medieval crafts too numerous to list, with something new added each year. Always worth a chuckle is watching men in tights and chainmail, history fanatics who travel from across Lithuania and Europe, to grunt, groan and swing halberds at one another, risking herniated groins in the sweltering summer heat. Archaeology Days were so popular last year that traffic was backed up for several kilometres. It's best to arrive early.