2018 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.
The 2018 Museum tour coincides with the Centenary of the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence and the World Lithuanian Song Festival in Vilnius–a momentous celebration of Lithuanian freedom and song. Join the fun and festivities and book your tour today!
Chicago to Vilnius
Depart from Chicago or your home city to Vilnius, Lithuania
After your arrival in Vilnius, you will be transported to your hotel. In the evening, there will be a Welcome Dinner at a traditional Lithuanian restaurant.
After breakfast, 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 Devil Museum (the only one of its kind in the world); the 13th-century Kaunas Castle; the lovely town hall, known locally as “Baltoji gulbė”, the White Swan; and the 14th-century Church of Vytautas, the principal church of Kaunas. 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.
After breakfast, you will depart for the Baltic resort town of Palanga with a special stop in Kėdainiai, boasting a fully restored Old Town with its unique buildings. Afterwards, 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. Afterwards, they’ll be driven to Palanga for the overnight stay and continued tour.
Neringa, Klaipėda, Nida, 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 Juodkrante, 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 Tiškevicius 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.
Šiauliai, Šeduva, Vilnius
Today 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, continue on to Vilnius. Upon arrival in Vilnius, you will check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.
Trakai, Kernavė, 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. Upon returning to Vilnius, you will make a stop at the TV Tower, the site of the January 13th massacre. Here in 1990, during a stand-off with the Soviet army, civilians keeping vigil to protect the tower and Lithuania’s newly redeclared independence were crushed by Soviet tanks. In the evening, you may wish to stroll to Vilnius’s Cathedral Square for the opening concert of the Lithuanian Song Festival.
Today you will tour Vilnius with its beautiful churches. Stops include: Vilnius Cathedral and its catacombs, Vilnius University, the Money Museum, 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. During the day, many activities will be taking place in the Sereikiškės Park: such as, traditional folk arts and crafts, singing, dancing, and tasting of many local foods. Enjoy lunch on your own at the park or at one of Vilnius’s many fine restaurants.
Today you will have a free day in Vilnius. You may make business contacts, visit relatives, go shopping and join in the “Folklore Day” festivities in different squares around the city.
After another day enjoying many happenings in Vilnius and lunch at an authentic Lithuanian Restaurant, you will get ready for the evening “Dance Day” performance at the Žalgiris Stadium.
After breakfast, you’ll have free time to pack and to enjoy your last day of the tour. After a farewell lunch with the tour group, gather at 3 PM to watch the procession of song festival participants from the Cathedral Square down Gediminas Avenue to Vingis Park for the Song festival “Song Day” grand finale featuring over 12,000 performers from all over Lithuania and the world.
- Optional tickets to: 1. Vocal Ensembles Evening in Kalnai Park; 2. “Dance Day” in the Žalgiris Stadium; 3. “Song Day” Concert in Vingis Park
- *If you would like to visit a place where your ancestors lived you must make arrangements in advance, when booking your trip.
- Tour itineraries are subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control, such as, but not limited to, inclement weather or airline scheduling changes.