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Vilnius Christmas Balconies

Vilnius Moves Christmas to Balconies

Since the lockdown has changed the way Christmas will be celebrated this year, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, invites its residents to engage in a festive yet safe Christmas balcony decorating initiative. The author of the project “Quarantine Portraits,” which captured the world’s interest during the first lockdown, teams up with Vilnius City Municipality to present the initiative – “Christmas on the Balconies” – aimed at inspiring the Lithuanians to showcase their ingenuity and enforce the sense of togetherness under the current conditions.

In light of the extension of the second lockdown in Lithuania, Adas Vasiliauskas, the photographer and author of  “Quarantine Portraits,” welcomes the artists and the residents of Vilnius city to let their imagination shine through the quarantine restrictions and make festivities especially safe by decorating an unexpected area of their home – their balconies. The organizers of the initiative called “Christmas on the Balconies” aspire to demonstrate that holidays can transgress their traditional aspect and that there are safe alternatives to all-family events.

Since the first project was inspired by the new-formed quarantine reality, the photographer wanted to make the second lockdown more in tune with the holidays. “My first project involved taking pictures of people in fun situations in their balconies and windows during the first lockdown. So for the Christmas season I wanted to create something festive yet safe. By inviting the citizens to decorate their balconies as originally as possible, I wanted people to unleash their fantasies and see this as an opportunity to show the world that celebrations and fun are not over even in a pandemic,” Adas Vasiliauskas explains the thought process behind this initiative.

The project was launched by presenting 8 balconies decorated by artists in various neighbourhoods of Vilnius. One of the balconies decorated by Adas himself features a face mask with a protruding Christmas tree. Another artist, Kotryna Čalkaitė, designed a balcony with a colourful Christmas forest containing a reindeer, a rabbit, and a crow. The joint creation by Rūta Karalytė and Dovilė Lukoševičiūtė displays a Christmas tree made of neon strings cascading down two balconies.

Artist Jolita Vaitkutė has put up impressive decorations on the balcony of Hostel “Jamaika” in Vilnius Old Town. The author said she wanted to shake the usual understanding of traditional items and festivities. “The idea of a bent-over Christmas tree was born out of the life-changing global events of 2020. I put an animal completely unfamiliar in Lithuania – a pangolin – which was thought to be a plausible cause of this entire pandemic situation. Rays flashing out of its eyes symbolize the whims of nature which we cannot control,” Jolita Vaitkutė shares the concept of her creation.

Following in the steps of the artists, the residents of Vilnius are invited to make their balconies shine and have them photographed with a drone. The best-voted balcony will receive a prize.

“There are alternative and safe ways to celebrate Christmas in a new reality. Difficulties presented to us this holiday season may be somewhat overcomed in non-traditional ways. We hope the decoration of the balconies will be a fun attraction for the entire family and will fill the period of Advent with a holiday cheer,” says Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius.

The project aims to involve a large community of Vilnius and is launched as a response to the exceptional world-wide situation during this holiday season.

Iuliia Tore