M. Plepys

Cultural City Break in Kaunas, European Capital of Culture 2022: Yoko Ono, Marina Abramović, Art Deco Architecture, and 1,000 Events

As the European Capital of Culture 2022, Kaunas, the second-largest Lithuanian city, will be a vibrant cultural cluster this spring with over a thousand events, exhibitions by world-famous artists, and a cultural space dedicated to Ukrainian artists.

Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania, has been selected as the European Capital of Culture 2022. The prestigious cultural title has allowed the city to amp up its cultural agenda and wow both the residents and the visitors with over 1,000 events, impressive water shows, Yoko Ono exhibition, and the ever-present Art Deco style.

Visitors keen to make the most of their city break in Kaunas this spring might get the taste of the city’s cultural life and vibrant art scene through the following must-try attractions.

Immersive exhibitions by Marina Abramović and Yoko Ono

As the European Capital of Culture 2022, Kaunas has some gems interspersed throughout the year-long event program. For instance, artistic souls will be delighted to find out that the famous Yoko Ono will have her retrospective exhibition The Learning Garden of Freedom from January till September, featuring conceptual art, spatial installations, experimental films, and performance art.

What’s more, one of the world’s most renowned performance artists from Serbia, Marina Abramović, will be coming to Kaunas to host her solo exhibition Memory of Being based on her series The Cleaner. Available from March till July, the exhibition will take the form of a video installation, covering Abramović’s conceptual and performance artworks from 1960 to date, her iconic An Artist’s Life Manifesto, and unique creative Method.

Contemporary Myth of Kaunas: springtime dose of entertainment

One of the major events listed in Kaunas springtime cultural agenda is The Confluence—the second part of the Contemporary Myth of Kaunas trilogy, which pools all of the cultural events—festivals, concerts, exhibitions, initiatives—of 2022. The event, scheduled for May, will take place at the confluence of the two biggest Lithuanian rivers, Neris and Nemunas, which are the defining aspect of the city, occasionally even called the birthplace of Kaunas.

Therefore, the event will not hold back with impressive performances to highlight the magic of the waters surrounding the city—a water show, acrobats, circus performers, musical river tours, and a groundbreaking environmental design project.

Kaunas 2022, the organizers of all European Capital of Culture 2022 events, have also tailored the cultural program to show deep support to war-afflicted Ukraine and opened a cultural-creative space CulturEUkraine in Kaunas Central Post Office Palace—one of the most notable Lithuanian symbols of the interwar period. The premises, celebrating Ukrainian artists, will welcome organizations, communities, and various initiatives, and will have co-working areas, art therapy zones, and numerous exhibitions.

“We want the Center to be a place which would spread the Ukrainian voices and realities in all Europe. The artists will be able to use the Center to carry on with their activities, at the same time maintaining relationships with both other Ukrainian and local artists,” said Virginija Vitkienė, head of Kaunas 2022. “Culture and creativity have been the constant beacons of hope throughout the darkest times of humankind history, helping people to overcome all hurdles, and lifting the spirits.”

Glimpses of Art Deco throughout the city

As the city made for endless roaming, Kaunas draws its charm from the streets which are a thrilling sight for art-starved travelers. The city’s spin on Art Deco style and modernist interwar architecture has permeated buildings, museums, hotels, as well as both residential and industrial sites. Even 44 modernist objects are listed as European Heritage Sites. The most esteemed testaments of modernist interwar architecture are found in Kaunas Central Post Office Palace, Vytautas Magnus War Museum, Romuva Cinema, and Aleksotas Funicular—one of the oldest cable cars in Europe.

Visitors enthralled by the possibility to learn all things Art Deco, might find their match in Kaunas Art Deco Museum. It offers a unique experience of immersing oneself in architecture, real-life interwar stories, and authentic Art Deco and Bauhaus furniture.

Yet the city’s visual treats do not end at architecture as Kaunas’ streets are spruced up with gigantic graffiti murals, converting the city into an impressive open-air art gallery.

As Lithuania has already removed pandemic traveling restrictions for many international travelers, the mild spring weather and the abundance of cultural events make Kaunas a tempting destination for a city break. More information on all European Capital of Culture 2022 festivities, must-see spots, and unique experiences in Kaunas is also available here.