December 1, 2023

Vilnius Brings Back Festive Favorites for Christmas: Natural Tree, Deluxe Holiday Trains, and Hand-Crafted Designer Gifts

The Christmas tree lit up, Vilnius is ready for Christmas. This year visitors will have the chance to go ice skating in the Palace of Grand Dukes, shop for hand-crafted designer presents, hop on a holiday-themed train, and dress up as Santa for the annual Christmas Run. 

December 1, 2023. Come December, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, goes into a full-on holiday mode. Winner of several of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas trees, the city turns the cold season into a magical arena for traditional and alternative holiday activities. 

On December 1st, Vilnius traditionally lit its Christmas tree in the Cathedral Square. This year a natural tree instead of an artificial structure embodies the spirit of gift-giving, community, and traditions. The tree will be welcoming visitors until January 7th. 

The lighting up of the Christmas tree officially gives the green light for other holiday-related festivities to start. The annual Christmas Town will surround the tree in Cathedral Square and will be available for a visit till January 1st. 40 huts will invite visitors to pick up artisanal gifts and try out holiday delicacies. Various Christmas markets will spread the holiday cheer in different shopping centers, an international charity market will take place in the Town Hall, and an alternative one will emerge in Liepkalnis Water Storage. 

“In order to create the coziest holiday season, we invite the residents of Vilnius and city guests to give non-material gifts: nurturing and strengthening interpersonal relationships and dedicating much-needed time to each other. This year, we aim to emphasize that the best Christmas gift is attention, conversations, and unity,” said Valdas Benkunskas, Mayor of Vilnius.

Christmas Fairy Tale train rides 

On December 1st, LTG Link, a part of LTG, launched holiday trains for the third time. Trains bedecked in Christmas attributes go on three routes from Vilnius—to Kaunas, the second largest city, Klaipėda, the port town, and Mockava, a village near the border with Poland which is a stop on the same route to Kraków and Warsaw. The latter will go the route until December 26th and from December 27th till January 8th the same train will run on the new international route Vilnius-Riga, Latvia. 

LTG Link reports that thousands of travelers took the opportunity to ride the festive trains in the last two years. The holiday decor reflects Christmas Fairy Tale motifs and surprises travelers with patterns and lighting inspired by old-time trains and items full of stories from antique shops. The trains going the routes Vilnius-Klaipėda and Vilnius-Mockava, the stop on the route to  Kraków and Warsaw, prompt the nostalgia for vintage Christmas with a burgundy color scheme, while the train running between Vilnius and Kaunas is more playful and has traditionally bright holiday elements. The trains were decorated by Mantas Petruškevičius, the renowned florist and decor artist. 

Holiday favorites ice rink and Santas’ running contest return

Vilnius’ residents and visitors will be treated to multiple other Christmas activities this season. The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania opens the ice rink in its Grand Courtyard on December 2nd. As a unique arena for holiday skating, the open-air ice rink spans over 700 square meters and will welcome visitors for eight mass skating sessions. The ice rink will be open till February 16th. 

The Palace’s visitors will also have the opportunity to attend festive performances, tucked away with warm drinks on an observation platform with 1,000 seats, and stroll around the nearby Christmas market.
Until December 30th, the Grand Courtyard of the Palace will host a music, lights, and video projection show “Legend. Vilnius’ Dream” two times a day. The show will tell the story of the dream of Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the legend of the Iron Wolf—the legendary backstory for Vilnius’ establishment. 

Among other holiday events scheduled in Vilnius throughout December will be the 48th Christmas Run on December 9th where runners dressed in festive costumes will tackle three, six, or 12-kilometer routes. Also, Vincas Kudirka Square will become an oasis for holiday shopping on December 13-17th. 50 Lithuanian artists, creators, and designers will present their assortment of unique hand-crafted creations. 

More information about holiday events is available here.