June 1, 2024

Pretty in Pink: Food and Fun in Vilnius as Pink Soup Fest Paints the Town

Attendees slid down a 50-meter pink soup slide and achieved two records: longest pink soup table and most people eating cold pink soup simultaneously.

June 1, 2024 – Vilnius, Lithuania. Thousands of city residents and guests got together in the heart of Vilnius on June 1 for the Vilnius Pink Soup Fest. The entire city was painted pink for the second year in a row to celebrate Lithuania’s iconic summertime dish, šaltibarščiai, or cold beetroot soup, and to celebrate all things pink with costumes, activities, music, and record-setting events.

“It's exciting to see both locals and visitors coming together to celebrate our national summer dish in such creative and diverse ways. The Vilnius Pink Soup Fest is our unofficial start to the summer season, and it really brings out the best of our city's spirit, from the inventive takes on our beloved pink soup to the lively street festivities,” said Dovilė Aleksandravičienė, CEO of Go Vilnius, the official tourism and business development agency of Vilnius.

The event’s organizers teamed with almost 200 official partners, including Vilnius’ diverse community of restaurants, bars, clubs, and tour operators. Many Vilnius’ landmarks were decorated in pink, including Stikliai Street, city bridges, and the TV tower. Bright pink chairs from festival partners also dotted the cityscape.

During the festival, two Lithuanian records were achieved: for the longest table of cold pink soup and for most people eating cold pink soup at the same time. 1200 visitors at Tymas market sat at a 362-meter-long table, enjoying šaltibarščiai for at least two minutes straight.

Attendees got to enjoy activities such as a scenic, 50-meter-long pink slide down Bastion Hill, and another slide for children into a huge inflatable bowl of cold pink soup. There was a soup-inspired costume competition with prizes, and more than 15 food trucks offered a wide range of pink soup-based recipes, from ice cream to cocktails.

Inspired by Paris’ “coffee run” and Munich’s beer-carrying contests, the festival offered waiters and bartenders a chance to test their skills with its popular Pink Waiters’ Marathon. Servers, many in amusing and festive costumes, had to carry bowls of pink soup for 600 meters through town with two key goals: finish quickly, but also don’t spill the pink soup.

“The city was alive with energy, laughter, and a sense of community as people of all ages came together to paint the town pink. This festival not only highlights our beloved šaltibarščiai but also showcases Vilnius' thriving gastronomical scene, reflecting our culinary creativity and hospitality,” said Aleksandravičienė. “It's great to see Vilnius celebrate traditional Lithuanian cuisine in such an endearing and whimsical way. It really warms the heart... with pink soup, of course.”

Dating to at least the 18th century, šaltibarščiai has changed over the years but today generally features beetroots, cucumbers, fresh dill, eggs, and kefir with hot potatoes on the side. Served cold and with a bright pink hue, it’s a refreshing summer treat, and an introduction to the country’s culinary heritage for overseas guests.