Kaunas and Kaunas District to become one big European stage in 2022

Kaunas and Kaunas District have been preparing for the European Capital of Culture for five years, involving residents, Lithuanian and foreign artists, cultural organizations, educational communities and local businesses. On 22 January 2022, the grand opening of Kaunas 2022 took place, and over the course of the year, over 1500 events were implemented in Kaunas and Kaunas District, attracting 1.7 million visitors to the whirlwind of exhibitions, performances, theater plays, festivals, discussions, forums and major events!

The Kaunas 2022 programme was shaped as a single huge dramatic work, embodying the journey of change for the city and its citizens – FROM THE TEMPORARY TO THE CONTEMPORARY. Kaunas 2022 was first and foremost a community project – most of the effort, time and resources were devoted to involve as many citizens as possible in culture. At the same time, it was an educational project – hundreds of professionals and enthusiasts in the field, as well as many representatives of the younger generation growing up in the area, learned new ways of co-creating culture and the city.


of them in Kaunas District



Kaunas 2022 invited citizens to become a community open to the city’s history, empathetic, creative, and daring to participate in the co-creation of a new Kaunas myth. The Mythical Beast of Kaunas – a metaphor for the city and creativity – put its biography and character traits into the hands and feathers of Kaunas citizens. The three major events of 2022 – The Contemporary Kaunas Myth Trilogy: CONFUSION, CONFLUENCE, CONTRACT – have been created by thousands of Lithuanian and European artists and cultural professionals with attendance of hundreds of thousands.

The Contemporary Myth of Kaunas Trilogy archive


Overall Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022 programme, implemented through 2017 – 2023, invited:

  • to interpret the modernist architectural heritage through hundreds of events and to love it so much that the UNESCO Heritage List Commission became infected with this love, awarding this status to Kaunas Modernism in September 2023!

  • to remember and properly appreciate the personalities of Kaunas and Kaunas district who have created what we are proud of today, especially by giving voice to the stories of the Jews of Lithuania and Kaunas, which have been brutally silenced for years.

  • to empower the youth: we have given young people mentoring and tools to reflect on the city and create change by their own heads and hands.

  • to see Kaunas and the Kaunas district through the prism of accessibility and ease of use of shared public spaces.

  • to come together in communities, with artists creating our own environments, fostering neighborhoods and celebrating the city and Kaunas district.

  • to learn and develop skills in volunteering, youth empowerment, community mobilization and professional development.

  • to create a contemporary urban myth, open to further development and interpretation, uniting Kaunasians in a shared history, present and future. By the way, the word “kaunasian”, meaning a resident of Kaunas and Kaunas District, was created by Kaunas 2022 team members, who bidded for the title. 

Kaunas 2022 structure


Promoted community awareness and a connection to the modernist heritage of Kaunas, developed new creative projects and strengthened the relevance of this heritage on a European scale.


This programme was designed for young people of various ages, from infants to young adults and seeked to help them build a city they want to live in.


A network of cultural organizations and creators, who worked together with Kaunas 2022 to develop over 100 unique artistic projects for a special 2022 programme. 


Collected and promoted people’s stories and seeked to revive the multi-ethnic memory of Kaunas and the Kaunas District, and to strengthen the bonds and interaction between the different communities that live here. 


Increased the community spirit of the kaunasians through cultural activities: Residents were encouraged to form resilient and creative communities through joint activities. 


An informal training programme which brought together organizations and people involved in the project who were interested in developing new skills and innovative cultural projects.


Developed a new understanding of a comfortable city and urban living based on the recommendations of designers and environmentalists. Promoted learning how to adapt the city for everyone and educated modern urban citizens.


Developed projects based on local and community identity together with the people of the Kaunas District, cultural organizations, and local and visiting artists (for example, „Contemporary Neighborhoods“).


An entertaining part of the programme which prepared the storylines for the grand events of 2022 (TRILOGY OF KAUNAS MYTH), based on existing and new stories about Kaunas. The programme gathered kaunasians for creation of the legend about the Mythical Beast of Kaunas.

The artistic highlights of the programme included exhibitions by William Kentridge, Marina Abramovic, Yoko Ono and a performance by Robert Wilson. Historical memory came alive in Jenny Kagan’s exhibition Out of Darkness,  exhibition 1972: Breaking Through The Wall,  in Philip Miller’s Kaunas Cantata concert, in Christian Boltanski’s artistic installation ANIMITAS (KAUNAS) and many more. Modernist architecture was interpreted at the Optimism Music Festival, in the exhibition Modernism 365/360, hundreds of events in heritage buildings, and in Aideen Barry’s stunning film KLOSTES / PLEATS. The stories of Ukraine, at war and defending itself against illegal Russian aggression, were revealed in the exhibition UKRAINE! UNMUTED, presented by  The Cultural Strategy Institute (Lviv).

Cultural output in Kaunas City and Kaunas District in 2017–2022



plays, performances, musicals, etc.

public art pieces and installations


festivals and celebrations


long-term cultural and art products and works


The ongoing international festivals initiated in the run-up to Kaunas 2022 have become the ancillary events in 2022, with attendance growing even more in 2023 (after the title): Day of Happiness, Kaunas Literature Week, Japanese Days in Kaunas Wa, Neighbours’ Day, AUDRA Contemporary City Festival, CONTEMPO Contemporary Performing Arts Festival, FLUXUS Community Festival, CityTelling Festival, URBAN DESIGN Festival, and the festival cycle CONTEMPORARY NEIGHBORHOODS, which is held in different locations in Kaunas District.

We have prepared a reflection of our experiences and methodological publications for the creators of future European Capitals of Culture and for those who want to test the power of culture for change of the city and its citizens. Culture is powerful. It works. It changes. TRY IT!