Vilnius embraces the holiday season with an open-air ice rink that changes location each year and has become an annual tradition. This year, Vilnius invites the city’s guests and residents to skate and spin in the courtyard of the Palace of Grand Dukes.
December 4, 2023. This Christmas season is in full swing in Vilnius, set to offer a mix of traditional and alternative holiday attractions. In addition to the customary Christmas market, the city hosts a variety of events and activities, including the annual open-air ice rink - an established tradition that changes locations each year.
Previously held in Lukiškės Square and the courtyard of the former Lukiškės prison, this year's ice rink will be located in a new historical location - the main yard of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
Ice skating at the courtyard of the Palace of the Rulers of Lithuania
The 700 sq.m. ice rink opened its doors on December 2, inviting guests and residents to enjoy skating in the historical Palace of Grand Dukes.
The fully restored Palace stands as an icon of the city's architecture. Originally Gothic, the 16th-century residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania became a grand Renaissance palace, acquiring Baroque features later on. In the middle of the 17th century, the Moscow army caused serious damage to the palace, completing the destruction in the 19th century. After Lithuania gained independence, extensive reconstruction of the Palace began, giving this architectural monument back to the city.
The Palace of the Grand Dukes offers different routes to explore the history of architectural evolution, interior development, and everyday life of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Palace also serves as a venue for numerous outdoor events, such as music and film festivals.
This December, the palace takes on a new role as ice skaters glide and spin, surrounded by ornate balustrades, creating a unique Christmas experience.
The ice rink is operating daily until February 16th, with at least eight mass skating sessions. The first two sessions start at 10:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. on weekdays, free for seniors and children under 14, and on weekends the ice rink is open to everyone wishing to enjoy the timeless joy of skating.
Seasonal events around the Christmas ice rink
In the surroundings of the ice rink, a Christmas market unfolds, offering a choice of hot traditional drinks and culinary delights, such as hot wine and gingerbread. The stage adjacent to the skating rink will host various festive performances, visible from 1,000-seat stands.
A special highlight includes the musical performance “Legend: Vilnius Dream” on the ice rink, recounting Duke Gediminas’ dream and the famous Lithuanian legend of the Iron Wolf. The performance is presented twice every evening until December 30.
A surprise awaits the youngest visitors at the historical Palace - Santa's residence will be located next to the ice rink. Guests can meet Santa, share their wishes, and take photos with him and other fairy-tale characters until January 7.
Former ice rinks in Lukiškės Prison and Lukiškės Square
Last winter, the Vilnius Ice Rink transformed the main yard of the former Lukiškės Prison, once a fully operational prison now turned into a cultural hub, into a must-visit destination. A 600 sq.m. rink was covered with ice mats featuring a circulating glycolic coolant, reducing energy consumption by 26% and accommodating up to 80 skaters at once. Skating enthusiasts enjoyed the unique setting and custom-made roof structure, with morning sessions open for free. Complementing the ice-skating joy, a Christmas gastro market near the rink featured wintery delights and family-friendly activities, providing a pleasant repose after skating sessions.
In previous years, the traditional Vilnius ice rink was situated in Lukiškės Square located on the street next to the prison, and invited city guests and residents to enjoy an 800 sq.m. rink along with the winter fountain - an installation of water, light, and glass. The outdoor rink also operated by the White Bridge, a pedestrian bridge over the Neris River, which included tribunes and an operating outdoor café.
For tickets and more information about the Vilnius Ice Rink and the accompanying festivities, please visit valdovurumuledas.lt and kakava.lt