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Lithuanian Song Celebration Turns 100: Honoring a Heritage That Overcame Soviet Occupation

Destinations & Tourism

An audience of over 300,000 is expected to celebrate the centenary Lithuanian Song Celebration, a cultural event echoing the spirit of the Singing Revolution, as Lithuania honors its rich heritage.

This summer, the Lithuanian Song Celebration marks its 100th anniversary, a significant milestone for a cultural event that has preserved Lithuanian heritage through the decades, even during Soviet occupation. Scheduled from June 29 to July 6, 2024, the centenary celebration will feature massive open-air concerts with hundreds of choirs and thousands of singers, celebrating a century of Lithuania's rich cultural legacy through dance and song.

A Century of Cultural Resilience

The first Lithuanian Song Celebration took place in 1924, featuring folk songs arranged for choirs. Despite the Soviet occupation, the celebration continued, becoming a symbol of cultural preservation and silent defiance. This year's theme, "May the Green Forest Grow," will bring together 37,000 artisans, singers, and dancers, drawing an audience of over 300,000. The performances will evoke the spirit of the Singing Revolution (1987-91), when the Baltic States united in song to resist Soviet rule—a struggle echoed by Ukraine's current fight for sovereignty.

A Grand Celebration

The main Song Day on July 6th will feature 13,700 performers on a large outdoor stage. Saulius Liausa, the director of the Lithuanian Song Celebration, highlighted the event's significance:

"The main theme of this year's celebration symbolizes our deep cultural roots, respect for nature, and the spirit of the nation in difficult historical times. The ongoing war in Ukraine reminds us of our past struggles during the Soviet occupation, when our people faced ideological suppression, and had to fight for freedom to preserve our cultural identity, traditions, and language through such forms of resistance as the Lithuanian Song Celebration. The event shows our resilience and that music unites people and inspires them to break free from repressive regimes and fight for their country's sovereignty."

Global Participation

The global Lithuanian community is actively participating, with over 2,000 expatriates from 21 countries, including Argentina, the US, Canada, and Poland, expected to join the festivities. On June 30, Vilnius Town Hall Square will host a fair showcasing Lithuanian communities and national projects from around the world.

Preparing for the Event

Hundreds of choirs, dance groups, and orchestras are rehearsing for the 14 large-scale events scheduled for the week. Saulius Liausa emphasized the community's dedication:

"As we witness people waiting and preparing, we feel a strong sense of responsibility and emotional inspiration. Hundreds of choirs, dance groups, and orchestras are rehearsing for 14 large-scale events that will last for the entire week."

Art and Innovation

Beyond musical performances, the celebration will feature other creative initiatives, such as "Gardens," an art installation by US-based artist Ray Bartkus. Designed for the centenary of the Lithuanian Song Celebration, "Gardens" reimagines this year's symbol—a straw garden, a craft added to UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list last year. The installation, which glows with bright colors after dark, reaches a height of 6 meters, offering visitors a unique, immersive experience.

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