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The party of the millennium.

VILNIUS -- A variety of interesting events are set to kick off in Lithuania at the end of June to celebrate the country's 1,000-year-birthday.

The name of then Baltic Pagan Lithuania was mentioned in 1009 in the Quedlinburg Annals (a German written source of the 11th century) under these unfortunate circumstances:

"St. Bruno, an archbishop and monk, who was called Boniface, was struck in the head by Pagans during the 11th year of this conversion at the Rus and Lithuanian border, and along with 18 of his followers, entered heaven on March 9th."

A thousand years later Lithuania celebrates its millennium as one of the most devout Roman Catholic countries in Europe, having to count its history from the date of the murder of St. Bruno.

Historians calculate the age of the country by relying on the date of its first mention in historic documents. Alfredas Bumblauskas, a prominent Lithuanian historian and a member of the Millennium organization committee, underlined the importance of this year's events.

"[In] 1009 Lithuania was on the road from being a tribal community to becoming a state. Thus, Lithuania was not only discovered, but it was emerging itself. Consequently, 2009 should be the celebration not only of the Millennium of Lithuania's name but also of the Millennium of Lithuania."

The President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, also a member of the Millennium commission, relates togetherness, love and democratic values with this commemoration, underlying that "Lithuania has always been and Lithuania will always be."

Although some Millennium and Vilnius-European Capital of Culture 2009 events are taking place throughout the year and beyond, the end of June through the end of July will probably be the best time to visit Lithuania, as the Baltic summer is blooming at that time and the country has some wonderful celebrations on the menu.

Right after Midsummer's night, the 8th World Lithuanians Sport Games 2009 will be held in Vilnius' Kalnu Park from June 25 to 28.

From July 1-6, one of the major events of the year--the Millennium Song Festival of Lithuania "Songs of the Centuries"--will be held in various parks and squares throughout Vilnius. The Song Festival can also be enjoyed in Kaunas at the Dainu Valley and the Church of Resurrection.

Experimental archeology days will take place in Kernave on July 4-6, offering the possibility to get a closer look at prehistoric and early medieval crafts and lifestyle. Medieval fights will be demonstrated during the event and archaic music ensembles will perform.

Probably the most important event will be the solemn official opening of the restored Palace of the Grand Dukes on July 6 (the State Day), a project led by the former President Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas. Rebuilding of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania is the most important and the biggest project in the program of Millennium of Lithuania.

Do not miss the opportunity to see the palace with a guide in English for free from July 7 to 26 (from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The planned exhibitions will be presented in the Museum of Applied Arts for the moment, due to recent finance cuts that delayed the completion of the project.

From July 22-26, the "Europeade" festival will take place in Klaipeda. About 4,000-5,000 participants take part in this five-day event, and over 20 countries represent their cultures through dance, songs, and crafts. Folk groups from Estonia, Latvia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, Armenia, Cyprus, and even Greenland will attend.

From July 31 to August 3, the "Tall Ships' Races Baltic 2009 Klaipeda" will take place, in which over 100 sailing vessels and marine yachts and around 4,000 crew members will visit Klaipeda. The regatta events will be highlighted by a parade of the crew on Klaipeda's streets, and the Parade of Sails.

Many more big and small events are scheduled to say happy birthday to Lithuania this year, to reflect on its past, and to pave the paths for the country's future.

"New opportunities and new challenges--that is what the Millennium of Lithuania makes one think about. To think about how we shall live for the centuries to come" said Bumblauskas.
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Title Annotation:Out&About
Author:Vaige, Laima
Publication:The Baltic Times (Riga, Latvia)
Date:Jun 18, 2009
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