Lithuanian Song Celebration Turns 100 this Summer: Honoring a Heritage That Overcame Soviet Occupation, with 37,000 Performers

Lithuanian Song Celebration Turns 100 this Summer: Honoring a Heritage That Overcame Soviet Occupation, with 37,000 Performers

An audience of over 300,000 is expected to celebrate the centenary Lithuanian Song Celebration, which will remind the spirit of the Singing Revolution of 1987-91, a defining moment when the Baltic States united in song to defy occupiers – a struggle that Ukraine is currently facing.

The Lithuanian Song Celebration, a part of intangible UNESCO heritage, returns from June 29 to July 6, 2024, for a centenary celebration. This once-in-four-year event will showcase massive open-air concerts featuring hundreds of choirs and thousands of singers, highlighting a century of Lithuania's rich cultural heritage through dance and song.

The first Lithuanian Song Celebration, featuring Lithuanian folk songs arranged for choirs, took place in 1924 and continued throughout the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, becoming a form of cultural heritage 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 to celebrate this historic milestone. The performances will remind the spirit of the Singing Revolution of 1987-91, when the three Baltic States united in song to defy the Soviet occupiers. The main Song Day on July 6th is expected to have 13,700 performers on the large outdoor stage.

“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 repression regimes and fight for their country's sovereignty,” said Saulius Liausa, the director of the Lithuanian Song Celebration.

The global Lithuanian community is also taking part in the festivities, with over 2,000 Lithuanian expatriates from 21 foreign countries, such as Argentina, the US, Canada, and Poland, expected to participate. On June 30, Vilnius Town Hall Square will have a fair showcasing Lithuanian communities and national projects from around the world for residents and visitors to learn about.
“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," said Liausa.

Beyond the 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, the making of which was added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list last year. The installation glows with bright colors after dark and reaches a height of 6 meters, offering visitors a unique, immersive experience.



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