KLAIPEDA - Klaipeda is busy pulling out all the stops and putting on its best face for the crowds of visitors that will swarm the city on July 27 - 29. The attraction? The city's annual Sea Festival. The traditional event is a popular getaway for many Lithuanians 's each year it draws about a million people who come to enjoy the sea, the crafts fair and the entertainment-filled evenings. It should be said though that just seeing the entire city decorated in a marine theme is reason enough to make the trip.
The first Sea Festival took place in Klaipeda in 1934, so the celebration has had time to develop its own traditions. One of the most important of these is the craftsmen's fair, which brings together about 300 artisans from all over Lithuania. This is one of the best places to look for souvenirs as well as to bargain for unique art pieces.
Another vital feature of the Sea Festival is, of course, the events that happen all over the city (most of them free of charge). Things kick off on July 27 with the festive parade down the streets of Klaipeda and along the Dane River. Lithuanian folk music bands will greet visitors on Theater Square, free Latin dance lessons will take place down at the Meridianas, Klaipeda's most famous ship, a fire show will heat up Turgaus street and there will be much more.
The main day of the festival is July 28, which starts off with the opening of the fish market at 9 a.m. Later on visitors will get a chance to see the Academic Rowing Regatta, pay a traditional visit to the tomb of Captain Liudvikas Stulpinas (Lithuania's first captain), and tour the oil spill response vessel Halli. Theater performances for both adults and children will be happening all over Old Town, so parents are more than welcome to bring their little ones. And the Dane River will host a parade of fishing boats, while nearby the whole city will be dancing tango or listening to country music.
July 29, the last day of the Sea Festival, will start with a Holy Mass for the Sea, wherein the Baltic Sea itself will accept a wreath in honor of lost sailors. The wreath-laying ceremony is quite beautiful, and well worth seeing. This is also the day of the Baltic Sprint Cup Regatta, a chance to enjoy the sea breeze, glimpse some wonderfully restored ships and experience maritime traditions. The Sea Festival will close with the music of Andrius Mamontovas and the legendary Lithuanian band BIX, who will be reunited in Theater Square.
A small word of warning: Anyone who drinks alcohol from glass bottles at the event venues could be fined up to 300 litas. Use plastic containers.
For more information: www.juros.svente.lt