Autumn comes with the drop of the first apple
It’s a sign for us to take our wooden baskets, go to our gardens and forests, and fill our homes with the smells of apple pies and dried boletes. Our autumn brims over with colours. It’s an autumn from Claude Monet’s paintings – a little bit sleepy and constantly wrapped in a translucent, iridescent cloak of mist. It weaves intricate spiderwebs, whispers from beneath the fallen leaves, waves the wings of the departing storks and cranes, and dances around the rainkissed cranberries in bogs. In autumn, we remember our friends, light candles and gaze into each other’s eyes. Long autumn evenings only hide the things that are genuine. Like us.
When we return to the city from the shore, the lakes, our homesteads, and our tents, all tan and recharged, we dive head first into culture. Our cities reverberate with theatre and good music, and the galleries open their doors wide open to show the fine works that were created during the summer. Autumn is a time for culture, and in autumn, culture goes out into the streets – it is colourful, and it takes your breath away. It opens your eyes and your feelings, and becomes ingrained in your experience, setting the joy of creativity free. Let’s surrender to it with the best events.
When the days begin to shorten and the circle of nature comes towards the end, it is time to enjoy the new harvest, give thanks for it, and prepare for the dark period. During the autumn equinox, it is customary to organize markets selling products of the latest harvest. Another attraction of the festival – the burning of straw sculptures and various fire shows – probably the most impressive of them takes place on the Neris waterfront in Vilnius. September 22, the day when in 1236 in the battle of Saulė, the united forces of Baltic tribes defeated the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, was declared in 2000 by the Latvian and Lithuanian Parliaments as Baltic Unity Day.
On a peninsula washed by the Curonian Lagoon and under one of the main bird migration routes is the Ventės Ragas Ornithological Station. The people who have been working there for almost a hundred years and the ornithologists who come from different countries wait every spring and autumn for the cackling flocks. Each year, tens of thousands of birds are ringed at the station.
Next to the impressive traps, there is also the oldest lighthouse in Lithuania. Its doors are open to visitors who want to get a bird’s-eye view of the wavy waters and the golden dunes of the Curonian Spit emerging in the distance.
In autumn, some birds raise their strengthened wings, use sounds only they can understand to get everyone together, and migrate to where it’s warm. They come back in spring, nest, breed and cheer us with their songs. We are happy when we can hear birds singing; we’ve even dedicated certain days to birds, such as Lark Day and Rook Day – not to mention Lapwing Day or the Day of Returning Storks. When birds start to migrate en masse in autumn, up to a million fly along our coastline each day. The birds’ flyway stretches above Ventė Horn, a unique place where the Ventės Ragas Ornithological Station was established in 1929. Its surroundings afford fantastic views to the Curonian Spit and Nemunas Delta, and the station’s ornithologists not only tell interesting stories to curious visitors, but also give them the possibility of ringing birds taken from the catching traps. These birds then carry the message about where they were seen.
The quieter the evening, the better. When the wind abates, hot-air balloons resembling colourful soap bubbles take off and fly over the red roofs of the Old Town. Sometimes they come so close that it looks as if you can catch them with your hand, only for them to fly away to dizzying heights. If you travel in a balloon in spring, you can admire the city’s blooming gardens; if it’s summer, you can count the tourists sitting on the pavements outside cafés; and autumn, with its colours, will leave you breathless. All this from a hot-air balloon.
Lithuanians are incurable romantics: we are among the top five countries with the largest number of hot-air balloons and balloon pilots per thousand residents; and international travel magazines have already put Vilnius and Trakai on lists of top 10 places to see from the sky for several years.
Vilnius is Europe’s only capital city that does not prohibit hot-air balloons from taking off from the city centre. If you happen to be sitting on the lawn next to the Tymas area, you can jump into a basket right away and take off. Flying in a balloon over Vilnius means falling in love with the city again. Let’s embark on an adventure together!Lithuanians are incurable romantics: we are among top five of the countries which have the biggest number of hot air balloons and their pilots per a thousand of residents; international travel magazines have put Vilnius and Trakai on the lists of top ten places to see from the sky for several years already.
Vilnius is the only capital city in Europe which does not prohibit air balloons from taking off from the Old Town. If you happen to be sitting on the lawn right next to Tymas quarter, you can jump into the basket right away and take off. To fly in an air balloon over Vilnius means to fall in love with it again. Let’s embark on an adventure together?
Even though we joke that for Lithuanians, modesty is a national trait, let’s not be modest – Lithuania is the land of theatre. It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when we would wait in long queues all night long for theatre tickets. Today there are no more queues at the theatre, but there are also no tickets available online to the best shows. Reserve them in advance and surrender yourself to the magic of the theatre. Because what is happening on the stages of Lithuania’s best theatres is magic indeed.
If art changes the world, it also changes Lithuania. In particular modern art. Our history of modern art witnessed rises and the golden age, numb silence and bold attempts to swim against the current. Charming interwar Modernism, the gloomy reality of the Soviet period, the masterpieces of the thaw and creative flashes of art reflecting the contemporary world create extraordinary art space that does not finish with museums and galleries. It takes you by the hand, involves and invites to get to know the fabulous world of culture.
Magnificent museums located in castles that evoke the country’s glorious past, and small museums that are nurtured in earnest by the local communities. Museums that showcase valuable art collections and intrigue you with the most unexpected exhibits. Museums that take pride in their huge archives, and museums that teach in the most innovative ways – the more than a hundred museums operating in Lithuania will astonish you with their diversity.
When Helen Mirren walks into her home as Catherine the Great in the new HBO mini series named after the famous Russian Empress, she’s not really in the actual rooms of the famed Tsarskoye Selo palace just south of Saint Petersburg. She’s actually in the historical Vilnius University Library in Vilnius, Lithuania. This and many more secrets are shared in a new guide entitled Vilnius On Screen. It’s a perfect read for those interested in what goes on behind the scenes of the latest productions by the likes of HBO, Netflix, National Geographic, Sky TV, and many more. The guide invites readers to take a deep dive into renowned film and television titles like War and Peace, Jack the Ripper, the Conductor, and more – and shows them how Vilnius provided the setting they needed to bring their stories to life.
Lithuanians drink amber tea, nettle wine, blueberry kvass and dandelion coffee, and they extract so much mineral water they can bathe in it. And, every spring, they drink juice from the trees.
Seasonal food is the main characteristic of Lithuanian cuisine. The sap from maple or birch trees has for a long time been the first natural treat of the year. The time to enjoy this slightly sweet nutritional drink, one sip of which embraces an entire waking forest, is the month of March.
Last year was a record one for the Lithuanian tourism sector. In 2018, 3.6 million tourists travelled in our country and spent at least one night here: of these, 1.7 million were people from abroad, while 1.9 million were from Lithuania.
It is now possible to travel back in time to when Vilnius was known as the Jerusalem of the North. Unlocking the Jewish cultural heritage deeply embedded into the city’s streets, buildings, and history has just become a lot easier thanks to the new free guide entitled, Discover Jewish Heritage in Vilnius.
Your urban birding can start right in the centre of the old town, that is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. While admiring the medieval architecture, also dish out equal admiration for the Black Redstarts that adorn many of the city’s pinnacles.