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Interactive Festival of Lights Illuminates Collective Emotions for Vilnius’ 696th Birthday

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Vilnius_Three_Crosses_photo_by_Saulius_ZiuraIt was a weekend to remember in Lithuania’s capital as residents and visitors to the city gathered to celebrate Vilnius’ 696th anniversary. Despite the city’s relatively ancient age, the weekend-long celebration was filled with youthful exuberance. Among the activities planned for the birthday celebration was a spectacular Festival of Lights, which ran for the entire weekend.

The spectacle was a gift of sorts to the city – artists from eight different countries came to Vilnius and collaborated on 22 unique light installations, giving everyone the opportunity to see many of the city’s landmarks dressed in dazzling and vibrant colours. These landmarks included iconic and historic buildings, bridges, churches and squares in and around the city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town.

One of the most intriguing of the installations was the one illuminating one of th city’s most noticeable landmarks – the Hill of Three Crosses, which is perched above Cathedral Square. The installation used sensors placed around the city to measure people’s emotional and physiological states, as well as their levels of engagement, and used this data to project colours representing the most common emotions onto the crosses. Unique to the world, this interactive installation had the crosses changing colours every three seconds, depending on the vibe and general mood throughout the city.

Vilnius’ official birthday – 25 January – marks the day in 1323 when Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, sent one of his most famous letters bringing news of Vilnius to other European countries. As such, this day marks the point in history when Vilnius became a part of the map of Europe. Almost seven centuries later, the city is still honouring Gediminas’ initial intent – to build an open and inclusive community that invites innovative thinkers and bright ideas to contribute to its on-going growth.

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