2019 Balzekas Museum
World Lithuanian Song Festival Tour
For two decades now, the Balzekas Museum has led annual tours to Lithuania. These popular trips provide a great introduction to Lithuania’s major cities, beautiful countryside, and historic sites and attractions. Touring with members of the Balzekas Museum community offers a friendly and supportive way to discover the country with other first-time visitors. Knowledgeable English-speaking guides further enhance the experience for travelers who may not speak the Lithuanian language.
Join the fun and book your tour today!
This year, the Balzekas Museum is offering 2 tours:
June 28 to July 8
Sept. 7 to Sept. 17
Friday, June 28
Chicago to Vilnius
Depart from Chicago or your home city to Vilnius, Lithuania
Saturday, June 29
After your arrival in Vilnius, you will be transported to your hotel. In the evening, there will be a Welcome Dinner in Stikliai Tavern.
Sunday, June 30
Today you will tour Vilnius with its beautiful churches. Stops include Vilnius Cathedral and its catacombs and Valdovų Rūmai, the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. The tour concludes with a visit to the KGB Museum, a monument to the suffering that was endured by the people of Lithuania during the Soviet occupation. Rest of the evening is free.
Monday, July 1
This morning begins with a visit to the Money Museum. Afterward, depart for Kaunas, a marvelous old city which served as the Lithuanian capital between the two world wars. You will spend most of your time in the old town visiting the 13th-century Kaunas Castle; the lovely town hall, known locally as “Baltoji gulbė”, the White Swan; the 14th-century Church of Vytautas, and the Church of Resurrection. Before arriving in Kaunas, you will stop at the Rumšiškės Open-air Museum (22 km from Kaunas), where you’ll explore Lithuanian country life as it was over a century ago. Step back in time as you stroll among original country houses and wooden churches from the four regions of Lithuania, moved and reconstructed on this 500-acre site. After lunch, you will continue on to Kaunas.
Tuesday, July 2
Ukmergė, Kėdainiai, and Palanga
After breakfast, you will depart for Palanga with a special stop at Ukmergė where you will visit President Antanas Smetona Manor -Museum and Ukmergė School of Music and Arts. Afterward, you will depart for Kėdainiai where you will visit the Janina Monkutė-Marks Museum-Gallery. Afterward, continue on to Palanga. After the hotel check-in, you will have enough time to enjoy the resort on your own.
Tour participants with prearranged excursions * to ancestral towns, will be picked up by their respective drivers and taken to their chosen locations. Afterward, they’ll be driven to Palanga for the overnight stay and continued tour.
Wednesday, July 3
This morning you will tour Palanga. You will visit the Amber Museum, the Hill of Birutė, and the beautiful Botanical Garden. Lunch will be at the unique Lithuanian Restaurant Pas Juozapą. The rest of the afternoon and evening you may enjoy the resort on your own.
Thursday, July 4
Neringa, Klaipėda, Nida, and Palanga
Today you will visit the Curonian Spit, Neringa, a long, thin, curved sand-dune isthmus that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. After a short stop in the port city of Klaipėda and a visit to Švyturys Brewery, you’ll be transported by ferry to Neringa. Your first stop will be the Witches Mountain in Juodkrantė, where you will be able to admire many unique wooden sculptures and other artwork. You will continue to Nida, a quaint fishing village, where you will have an opportunity to shop for some beautiful amber jewelry and to visit the highest dune on the isthmus. Upon returning in the afternoon, you will dine in the enclosed winter garden of a grand estate, the Tiškevičius Mansion in Kretinga. The mansion was built in the 19th century by a nobleman, Mikalojus Zubovas, and purchased in 1874 by Juozapas Tiškevičius. After returning to Palanga, join in a time-honored tradition among resort-goers, a sunset stroll along the famous Palanga Pier.
FRIDAY, JULY 5
SALANTAI, ŠIAULIAI, ŠEDUVA, and VILNIUS
Today the tour will take you to the Orvydas Homestead Museum near Salantai. The Museum is rich not only in stone and wood sculptures made by Vilius Orvidas and other artists but also has a big collection of out-of-date objects, including a tank. The stones themselves here are unique and able to rouse reflections on time and eternity. Walking about numerous paths you will find huge, unexpected stone and wood compositions united by a dominant idea of deep faith into the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Mary. Afterward, the tour will take you to one of the most revered places in Lithuania, the Hill of Crosses, where thousands of crosses where placed by people asking God for special favors or thanking Him for favors granted. After lunch at the unique Šeduvos Malūnas restaurant, located within a restored windmill, you will continue on to Vilnius. Upon arrival in Vilnius, you will check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.
Saturday, July 6
Trakai, Kernavė, and Vilnius
After breakfast, you will visit Trakai, the medieval capital of Lithuania, with its restored castle in the middle of Lake Galvė. After a regional lunch, you will visit Kernavė, an ancient site in the Neris valley and the government seat of King Mindaugas 750 years ago. You can view and climb the many mounds where great castles once stood. Kernavė archaeological site, inscribed into UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004, is an open-air exhibition created by nature and man over many centuries. Join the traditional festival “Days of Live Archaeology in Kernavė”, held since 1999. Visitors are invited to put their hands on various crafts of prehistoric times and the Middle Ages with the help of masters of craftsmanship from Lithuania and other European countries: Belarus, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Visitors can experience archery, minting coins, riding horses, spinning, silver casting, etc. and also taste meals made according to ancient recipes, listen to archaic music, participate in archaic games and contests. Upon returning to Vilnius, you will make a stop at the TV Tower, the site of the January 13th massacre. Here in 1991, during a stand-off with the Soviet army, civilians keeping vigil to protect the tower and Lithuania’s newly re-declared independence were crushed by Soviet tanks.
Sunday, July 7
After breakfast, you will meet with a local historian and hear a talk about Lithuania’s past and present. The rest of the day is free for shopping and visiting Vilnius on your own. In the evening you will have a Farewell Dinner at a typical Lithuanian Restaurant.
Monday, July 8
After breakfast, you will be transported to Vilnius Airport for your flight Breakfast/Lunch