One of the largest fairs of handmade products and national heritage in the Baltic States will be held in the capital of Lithuania on the 2nd - 4th of March. Do you want to taste the history of the ancient city, the Baltic folklore, and the heritage of multinational culinary in one in a short time? Then you should not miss the opportunity to visit Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, on the 2nd - 4th of March. On the first weekend of the spring Kaziukas Fair, the special traditional festival of the year will be held here. As with every year, visitors of the fair will be able to wander among many kilometres of stalls and to taste the culinary heritage not only of Lithuanians but also of Poles, Latvians, Belarusians, Tartars, and other nations living in the capital and in the neighbourhood of Lithuania.
Tradition Dating Back to the 17th Century
Kaziukas Fair is not only the largest but also the oldest festival in Vilnius dating back as far as the 17th century. Traditionally, it is organized on the last weekend before St. Casimir's Day celebrated on the 4th of March. The location of the fair is a marketplace located in the Old Town of Vilnius, having the status of UNESCO heritage, or near to it, where hundreds of craftsmen stalls and tents are lined up. All the stalls, set up next to one another, would be forming a long line of nearly 20 kilometres.
The celebration dedicated to honour Prince Casimir (1458-1484), a patron saint of Lithuania, became a jolly spring welcoming festival. At the same time, this is also a festival combining the old traditions of craftsmen and a modern approach to the heritage in the very heart of Vilnius.
In olden times, at Kaziukas Fair, it was possible to buy sweets from Jewish sellers, scarves from Turkish salespeople, glass and baize from Russian producers. Now it is possible to get almost everything that the Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Polish, or Belarusian craftsmen of wood, ceramics, culinary, and other fields produce the best.
The Kaziukas Fair provides a wide variety of experiences for visitors: a cosy atmosphere of razzle-dazzle and an opportunity to communicate with artistic craftsmen and friendly traders. They offer samples of local technologies that have passed the test of time: wicker, carved, thrown, sculpted, or forged beauties, as well as items made in jewellery workshops.
Some visitors return home from the fair with household utensils, others – with handmade jewellery, or meet with friends for a glass of kvass or enjoy the product offered by the cook here, at the counter, in the open air. Others are fascinated by the diversity of food produced in accordance with local traditions and reflecting a modern approach; delicacies each one made more inventively than the last are sweet treats for children.
Attracts More and More Visitors
Vilnius Kaziukas Fair is the largest fair of creators of handmade products from around the country in Vilnius attracting hundreds of thousands of participants. Visitors enticed by new impressions or those loyal to the fair come both from Lithuania and neighbouring countries. They are attracted by the special spirit of the fair and the authenticity of the festival.
A few years ago, the number of visitors of the Kaziukas Fair exceeded half a million and is growing every year. The event is accompanied by jolly music and the works of the old crafts masters at the fair is complemented by the works of the young designers and jewellers of the country.
Kaziukas Fair is a festival that differs from many similar events in the Baltic countries in its scope, the uniqueness of which is created by some exclusive traditions:
1. Palm bouquets (Verbos) of the Vilnius Region. These are coloured wreathed bouquets made from dried plants that are not characteristic of any other culture. Palm bouquets reaching St. Casimir worship times are one of the main souvenirs, without which no visitor comes home from the fair.
2. Beigels and heart-shaped honeycakes. Scalded dough bagels and honeycakes of the Kaziukas Fair is another very old tradition. A long time ago such honeycakes represented a special expression of regard for loved ones or fiancées. A less binding edible souvenir is a bagel necklace and visitors of the fair wearing them around their necks can be recognized by everybody from afar.
3. Multinational culinary heritage. The representatives of the national culinary heritage are given at least as much attention at the fair as the souvenirs and articles of the masters of old crafts. From the beginning to the end of the fair the visitors are accompanied by the smells of traditional Lithuanian dishes and there you can taste authentic Karaite pies Kibinai and the sweet Tartar cake Šimtalapis reminiscent of a work of art.
4. Masters workshops. Kaziukas Fair is a festival, during which one can both buy an original household item or an adornment made of wicker, wood, clay, or iron and find out how it is made. The masters of the fair are happy to show the visitors how their works are born and the most curious ones can even forge a special coin.
5. Records. These are yet another expression of the creativity of the masters of the fair complementing the festive merriment. Records of the largest palm bouquet, the largest chicken dish “Tulpė”, the largest wooden spoon, and a pair of wooden clogs are stated during the festival’s history.