This year we continue our tradition to present the things to do in our city each month. If you come to Vilnius in January, our article can help you to plan your visit. So keep on reading!
Despite that it’s the middle of the winter, January can be a very good month for travelling to Vilnius. Flights and bus tickets are less expensive, the city is not so crowded and less commercial. In this time, Vilnius is calm, peaceful and very charming with it’s white streets, forested hills, and medieval courtyards. Thus, don’t think too much, pack your things and come for a short stay in Vilnius in January.
If you turn up in Vilnius in January, here are tips for your visit.
1st of January: National Flag day
1st of January is not only the first day of a year, but it is also the National Flag Day. During the interwar independence, our tricolor was first raised on Gediminas tower in 1919 1st of January. In the beginning, the delegates wanted to use two colors, the red and the green that are based on the country’s traditional national costume. Since this combination was too gloomy, it was decided to add yellow to make it brighter. Each color has its’ own simple, but deep meaning: yellow represents the sun and goodness; green stands for nature and hope and the red symbolizes the courage and blood that was lost in the fights for freedom.
A solemn flag-raising ceremony is held on Gediminas tower each 1st day of the year.
From 1st to 6th of January: Continuation of Festive Season
Although the Christmas is over, the Christmas spirit will stay in the city till the 6th of January. The Christmas markets in cathedral and Town Hall squares will be buzzing in a festive mood with winter songs, hot wine, and gingerbread cookies. The Christmas train will keep riding around the old town and the main Christmas trees will still twinkle with lights and glad our eyes.
The 6th-7th of January: The Farewell to holidays
The festive season in Vilnius finishes on a day of Three Kings. Traditionally, the parade of three- meters high figures of Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar will start at 16:30 from the Gates of Dawn , continues through the “Pilies” street and will end at the cathedral square. The playful theatricalized procession with music and dances will follow them on the way.
The 13th of January: “Bloody Sunday”
The most important historical date this month is the 13th of January, usually dedicated to commemorate “Bloody Sunday” events that happened 27 years ago in Vilnius.
13th of January in 1991 was the day when Soviet troops cracked down in Vilnius to crush the newly reborn Lithuanian state. Thousands of freedom fighters surrounded the Television Tower and Radio headquarters that were targeted by Soviets. The invaders were also heading towards parliament, but had to deal with an immense crowd of unarmed Lithuanians determined to protect it with their own lives. Thankfully, Soviets decided to refuse plans to storm it and turned the tanks back. Consequences were still tragic, 14 peaceful defenders lost their lives, hundreds more wounded.
The TV tower and broadcasting studios were under Soviet control until the August coup in Russia, but nobody paid attention to their propaganda.
If you will be in Vilnius at that time, try to take part in concerts dedicated to a memory of these events. Bonfires of hope are lighted next to the parliament, the songs of freedom singed in the city.
8th of January: Traditional Running Event “On the way of life and death”
Already 29th traditional running event “On the way of life and death” will be held in Vilnius on 11th of January. It will start in Antakalnis Cemetery where the 14 victims of “Bloody Sunday” events are buried. The participants will honor the memory of the victims by putting flowers on their graves and then the freedom run will start. The finish line will be in front of the Television Tower, the highest building in Lithuania, where all these tragic events took place 29 years ago.
When? 11th of January at 12:00 am;
How much? Free admission;
All participants will be awarded by medals at the finish line. You can register here. Have in mind that registration is in Lithuanian language only.
From 25th until the 30th of January: Happy 700 years Birthday, Vilnius!
On the 25th of January Vilnius celebrates it’s birthday that dates back to 1323. In the January of 1323, Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in the famous letters of the Grand Duke Gediminas. Back when our Grand Duke was very welcoming, he invited people from all over the Europe to come to the prosperous city of Vilnius and settle here.
Even though a lot of time has passed since then but Vilnius are still open and welcoming. To commemorate it’s birthday, the city invites the citizens and city guests to admire light installations on bridges, churches, sculptures, public gardens and narrow streets of medieval Vilnius.
You can find more information about this festival in the following website: http://www.lightfestival.lt/en/home/
Don’t miss this out, if you turn out in Vilnius this weekend!
The whole winter: Vilnius Ice Rink
Lithuanians just cannot imagine the white winter without skating, however, the changing weather conditions do not allow to skate on the natural lakes all the winter. That is why each year the ice rink is implemented in different parts of the city that the skating enthusiasts could enjoy this activity through all the winter This year, it is established near the White Bridge.
The price for 45 min ice-skating session (ice skates included) is 5 eur. You can buy your ticket on place or online (this way you will be sure that you get the place)
Last Tips about the Weather
Be prepared for all types of weather- coldness, wind, rain or sun.
January is the coldest month in Lithuania, that is why it can be very beautiful with hills of snow, frosted trees under a clear, blue sky. At the same time, nowadays temperatures vary a lot. It can happen that snow and freeze come for two weeks and when suddenly weather changes to zero or plus and snow melts. So check the weather forecast very carefully, since it is possible you might need either an umbrella or a very warm down jacket here.
You can check the weather forecast here.
If you need more specific information about the concerts, performances hold in Vilnius, don’t hesitate to contact us at info(eta)vilniusfreetour.lt