The eyes of the world will be on Kaunas, Lithuania, as it marks the start of its year as the European Capital of Culture 2022 with a celebratory grand opening weekend The grand opening weekend of Kaunas 2022 begins on January 22nd and will feature an intense schedule of over 100 artistic and cultural events including concerts, dance performances and the opening of exhibitions from world famous artists such as Yoko Ono.


A wide variety of Kaunas’ districts, from Čekiškė to Vandžiogala and from Šilainiai to Aleksotas, will come alive with light each night between January 19th and the 22nd as part of the rituals for the awakening of the Mythical Beast. These artistic accents, known as the “Circles of Light'', will shine through the streets into the night sky.

Residents have been invited to join the percussion musical performance dedicated to the Mythical Beast alongside professional musicians. The main event of the Kaunas 2022 opening is “The Contemporary Myth of Kaunas Trilogy. Act I. The Confusion” and will take place in the Žalgirio Arena on Saturday 22nd January.

The show is a fusion of contemporary music, giant video projections and poetry that tells the story of Kaunas as a living, constantly-renewing miracle. The aim of this event, unique and ambitious in idea and scope, is to involve everyone and anyone in the city’s creative uprising.

Those unable to attend will be invited to watch the opening broadcast everywhere worldwide and to become inspired to build a new post-pandemic future. As the show reaches its climax, the programme will spread across Kaunas and invite everyone to immerse themselves in a unique game of Mythical Beast on the city streets.

The game will take place all over the centre of Kaunas. All participants will be invited to take a special map and search for the places where the Beast has left his trace – and thus decipher the answer to the game. The first 1000 winners of the game will be awarded special Kaunas 2022 prizes. 

“The opening show has a positive message at its core; that we face the struggles of life through the cultures we share and the stories we tell one another! So, although this show is a story of Kaunas, it is also a story for Lithuania and Europe. It contains the voices of Kaunas, the buildings of Kaunas and the stories of Kaunas past and present – but they are stories we can all relate to”, says Chris Baldwin, the director of “The Confusion”.

Visitors to the Capital of Culture opening events will be amazed by incredible light and fire shows featuring performances from Arkadijus Gotesmanas, Ritmas Kitaip and Viduramžiai, as well as performances by choirs and ensembles. There will also be plenty of unexpected action in public spaces. Seven different venues will host special – and different – PinoKeys performances. Artists and people with disabilities have also joined forces in the creative process.

As part of Kaunas’ cultural offering in 2022, artists from all over the world have created pieces of art to be displayed in the city throughout the year.

The Bank of Lithuania is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022 and will be opening its doors to the public to visit the unique historic building. ​​The bank’s main hall will become the home of an installation 'Ex It' by the famous artist and activist Yoko Ono. The installation will open on January 22nd and will be on display until the 11th of September.

South African contemporary art star William Kentridge will debut his latest artwork “That Which We Do Not Remember” which will be on display throughout the year at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art. The exhibition has been curated by the head of Kaunas 2022, Virginija Vitkienė.

The importance of Kaunas’ architecture will be revealed in the international exhibition “Modernism for the Future 360/365”. It is a creative report of the eponymous Kaunas 2022 programme and will be housed in the iconic Kaunas central post office.

Those strolling along Laisvės Alėja will be drawn to the exhibition “Lithuanian Design: from Temporary to Contemporary”. The show presents the development of Lithuanian design and will be housed in the shop windows of legendary places such as Kaunas Central Bookstore and the National Kaunas Drama Theatre.

The windows of the cafés on Laisvės Avenue will also become miniature stages for excerpts from a cantata by the acclaimed South African composer Philip Miller. The world premiere of Kaunas Cantata will take place in autumn 2022.

The two other cities which have been awarded the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture for 2022, Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg and Novi Sad in Serbia, will have exhibitions on show in Kaunas. The Meno Parkas Gallery will host artwork by the Luxembourgers Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil from Esch-sur-Alzette. Meanwhile, artists from Novi Sad will present their avant-garde art at the Kaunas Photography Gallery.

As soon as the grand opening event is over on Saturday evening, Kaunas’ Christ Resurrection Basilica will become a beacon, a guiding star for those determined to experience the city. The beam of light will be visible from the city‘s farthest reaches and everyone will be able to create their own route to the church.

The next performances of the incredible Mythical Beast trilogy will take place later in the year with the “Confluence” in May and the “Contract” in late November. Later this year, Yoko Ono will be holding an exhibition at the Kaunas Picture Gallery, curated by the Contemporary Art Centre.