Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, marked the countdown till the holidays by lighting a Christmas tree in the Cathedral Square. Sticking to an intricate light and art installation rather than a live tree, the city aims to follow the tradition of the past several years and make a lasting impression on the residents and the visitors of the city. The new Christmas installation follows the predecessors which were voted the most beautiful in Europe for several years in a row.
The Christmas tree lighting ceremony involved unveiling of the installation and Christmas greetings by Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius. The citizens were invited to watch a live broadcast to prevent mass gatherings.
This year’s Christmas tree towers over the Cathedral Square at 27 m high, and has 96 giant replicas of real snowflakes with complex patterns. The installation is also adorned with 3,000 artificial branches, 200 m2 of mirrors, 900 m of garlands, and bursts with light through 2,000 m of string lights.
According to Dominykas Koncevičius, the designer of the Christmas Tree 2021, this year’s concept was inspired by last winter, which was exceptionally white, cold, and frosty. Therefore, this year’s Christmas tree has the exact reproductions of real snowflakes, which are magnified a thousandfold and turned into intricate atmospheric sculptures.
“I was captivated by the beauty of snowflake geometry and singularity as it branches out at 60 or 120 degree angles every time. Also, all snowflakes are entirely one-of-a-kind, so the tree is decorated in 96 different artificial snowflakes. The installation itself has three layers: the bottom is covered with mirrors, which symbolize ice, and white spruce branches with frost on them,” Koncevičius explained. “The middle layer is made of snowflakes varying in size and form, and the top layer is decorated in garlands that give off a twinkling effect. All of the elements are interconnected: the mirrors reflect decorations, lights and the surroundings—buildings, people, the city—to construct a miraculous dance of lights, colors, and shapes. ”
The holiday tree installation joined other past gems in Vilnius’ Christmas tree collection. Last year’s tree embodied surrealism with mirror and metal structures and 4 kilometers of Christmas lights hiding a traditionally decorated live tree inside. In 2019, the city wowed Europe with a royal blue and silver installation, which resembled the queen of chess.
Tree lighting is one of the many traditional holiday attributes in Vilnius, which marks the beginning of other sensational festivities and decoration unveilings in the capital. A 3D digital Christmas Fairy Tale will be projected onto the Cathedral while pop-up artisanal stands will offer a range of delicacies, gifts, festive drinks, and stocking fillers in the most frequently visited parts of the city—the Old Town, the city center, and a number of squares. Plenty of restaurants will also invite the passers-by to feast their eyes on holiday-themed decorations and fill their stomachs with Christmas specials, such as holiday medallions, festive forshmak, or Santa Claus burgers.
To make this Christmas season safe for everyone, Vilnius adheres to all safety recommendations and encourages residents and visitors to maintain social distance and follow the required precautions. Vilnius will carry on the Christmas festivities until January 2.