VILNIUS - The weathered landscapes of Greenland, breathtaking contours of Iceland and the treeless expanses of the Faroe Islands usually occupy the part of our minds associated with fairy-tale fantasies.
Their existence is real, however, and touches upon the history of the Baltics in a meaningful way. One fact many Vilniusites will mention is that Iceland was the first to recognize Lithuanian independence in 1990. Lithuania subsequently thanked the remote island country by naming a street situated in the Old Town in its honor to show that not everybody was out of touch with this corner of the world.
The upcoming Ultima Thule festival, slated to take place March 18-25 offers a chance to experience these unique cultures through food, photos and fun, with a series of events that will appeal to a wide audience.
Those who find the time to revel in the song and dance festivals certainly won't want to miss the artist Vivi Nielsen performing the vibrant mask dances of eastern Greenland, also known as Uaajeernaq. These traditional dances function as a morality lesson, religious ritual and form of entertainment, all wrapped up into one performance. Uaajeernaq saw a growth in popularity in the 1990s after falling by the cultural wayside in the 1930s. Other programs will feature a children's theatre performance based on fairy tales from Greenland, which will be shown on March 23 at 4:00 p.m. at the Children and Youth Center, and also at the Vilnius Teachers' House at 6:00 p.m. on March 24.
If your stomach needs a vacation from cepelinai and zeppelin, the celebrations will not disappoint. March 18-25 also brings the Green-landic-Icelandic-Faroese food week, with traditional dishes made from such savory delights as Faroese crab, Icelandic cod and salmon, and even musk ox from Greenland. The dishes will be prepared by chef Soren Ledet of the restaurant Noma, which makes its home in Copenhagen. It's the only ethnic restaurant of its kind in Denmark to base its fare on the berries, fish and game of the West Nordic regions. Showing that their passion for exotic food isn't far from the taste buds of customers, Norma garnered last year's award for best restaurant in Denmark. A number of unusual dishes will be offered for the tasting pleasure of curious diners at the Literatu Restaurant on Gedimino Avenue.
The award-winning Lithuanian press photographer Aurelija Capulinskaite will unveil her photos of Iceland in the exhibit "Hot.Cold.Iceland," which includes spectacular shots of the rugged mountains and gushing geysers of the paradoxical Icelandic landscape. The 50-photo exhibit by Capulinskaite starts at the Arka Gallery and will make the rounds through Lithuania, stopping in Kaunas, Siauliai and Klaipeda.
The symphony of sensory delights will be complete with the musical element of the festivities. The composer and pianist Kristian Bak of the Faroe Islands and the trio of Algirdas Klova, Vladislav Borkovski and Gediminas Laurinavicius are slated to play at the Jazz Club. Meanwhile Icelandic DJs Mageir and Blake will rock the beat at Club Galaxy on March 22.
The events are sponsored by the Nordic Council of Vilnius, which has operated in the capital city since 1991. At the helm of the council's regular rotating presidency this year is Iceland, and its desire to promote the region and its cultures is a fresh wind that many in the Baltic country will appreciate as a unique glimpse into the traditions of these noteworthy northern neighbors. o
For more information
go to www.nmr.lt
The Nordic Council
Didzioji street nr. 5
Tel +370 5 212 22 11