Posts tagged with "Lithuania"

Eurovision Singer Destiny illustration by Heather Skovlund (Photo Credit: Carlton Agius) for 360 Magazine

2021 Eurovision Song Contest

Will there be a shock winner at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest?

The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most popular annual events that takes place across Europe. Over 180 million people tuned into the 2019 contest, which was won by the Netherlands. The final of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest final takes place on 22nd May in Rotterdam, where thirty-nine countries will take part in the live-streamed musical event.

The current favorites to win in 2021

There are a few acts that will be confident of winning the final, with the Eurovision song contest odds placing Malta as 4/1 favorite to win, who will be represented by their act, Destiny. They have never won the contest before but have finished in 2nd place on two occasions. Despite being the favorites, Malta will have to navigate a semi-final before they reach the main stage.

The second favorites to win are France, who are at 5/1 odds. Unlike the predicted winners, France has won the contest on five occasions, however, they haven’t won it since 1977.  Switzerland, Italy, and Bulgaria will also perhaps all fancy their chances of winning this year as well.

Will 2021 see a shock winner?

The United Kingdom hasn’t seen a Eurovision winner since 1997 – on that occasion, Katrina and the Waves won with the song “Love, Shine a Light.” The UK’s representation in 2021 will be James Newman, a singer-songwriter who has had a successful career in the industry – though many bookmakers believe that he is unlikely to win. 

Ireland is also seen as huge outsiders to win, but they are actually the most successful country in Eurovision’s history. They have won the competition on seven occasions, with the last success coming in 1996.

A previous shock winner

The 2011 edition was won by Azerbaijan, and it was seen as a huge shock at the time.  This was their first success in the competition, having only entered for the first time four years previously.

How many times has the host nation won Eurovision?

The host nation of the final has won Eurovision on seven occasions. The last time this occurred was in 1994 when the competition was won by Ireland. Looking back towards the upcoming contest, the Netherlands are, however, seen as huge outsiders to win.

A further brief history of Eurovision winners

The first edition of the contest was held in 1956. On that occasion, it was won by Switzerland. In 1969, four countries won the contest, which was the first and only time in which there were joint winners, all garnering the same score from international judges and the public vote. The United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, and France all came in first place that year.

A few years later, in 1974, ABBA won their contest, and the Swedish pop group would go on to become music icons. Their winning song “Waterloo” is still popular all over the world.

There are several other countries that are yet to taste success in Eurovision. This list includes Iceland, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Will the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest see a first-time winner?

Film fest illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Vilnius International Film Festival Winners

Vilnius International Film Festival Announces 2021 Award-Winning Films

Vilnius Film Festival’s 26th edition concluded April 5, 2021 with the announcement of European Debut, Short, and Audience Award competition winners. This year’s innovative, COVID-safe festival format was a collaboration between the film industry and the Lithuanian capital’s six top hotels, creating a vacation-at-home experience, where audience members enjoyed a virtual opening ceremony with a red carpet and collaborations with local talent, and watched a program of the year’s top international titles from the comfort of luxurious local hotels. “The opportunity to book hotel rooms to watch movies came just in time for an audience hungry for travel, new places, and experiences. According to the hotels, their occupancy rates reached pre-pandemic levels over the course of the three-week festival,” says Go Vilnius Director Inga Romanovskiene. Preliminary data also reveals that 100,000 viewers tuned in to this year’s diverse lineup of titles.

In a field rich with exciting new films, several stand-out titles took home competition prizes. The five-star jury line-up for the European Debut Competition included Venice Film Festival Artistic Director Gaia Furrer, filmmaker/producer Denis Côté, MUBI VP of Content Daniel Kasman, M-films production company founder Marija Razgutė, and filmmaker Lili Horvát. Director Itonje Søimer Guttormsen’s feminist, tragi-comic fable Gritt took home two European Debut Competition awards—both Best Film and a Best Actress award for star Birgitte Larsen. Best Actor was awarded to Pierre Deladonchamps for his role as the sinister central drifter in Peter Dourontzis’ Rascal, while Ainhoa Rodríguez was named best Director for Destello bravió, her precise portrait of women in small-town Spain. Special Mention was awarded to Tim Leyendekker’s boundary-pushing reconstruction of a notorious case of deliberate HIV transmission, Feast.

Other awards include Short Competition winners, judged by film critic and Cannes Critics’ Week programmer Nanako Tsukidate, director and cinematographer Camille Degeye, and filmmaker Ignas Meilūnas: Best Film winner Places, Vytautas Katkus’ intimate portrait of friendship, and Special Mention awardee Fish Like Us, Raphaela Schmid’s short in which various lives and stories unfold at a Chinese restaurant. Viewers were also able to weigh in on this year’s program, awarding Audience Awards to Best Film Quovadis, Aida?, Jasmila Žbanić’s story of a woman caught in the male game of war; Best Short Film The Little Bird and the Bees, Lena von Döhren’s vibrant animated short; and Best Lithuanian Film Swamp, an intimate character study from director Klementas Davidavičius.

“We’re glad that the language of film transcended our physical separation, providing an unparalleled sense of community and closeness,” said CEO of Vilnius IFF Algirdas Ramaška, thanking fans for their support. “Together with our partners, we were able to provide safe experiences-following quarantine restrictions, such as the private screening rooms in hotels-that surely left indelible memories.”

EUROPEAN DEBUT COMPETITION 
Best Film: Gritt (dir. Itonje Søimer Guttormsen)
Best Actress: Birgitte Larsen (Gritt)
Best Actor: Pierre Deladonchamps (Rascal)
Best Director: Ainhoa Rodríguez (Destello bravió)
Special Mention: Feast (dir. Tim Leyendekker)

SHORT COMPETITION 
Best Film: Places (dir. Vytautas Katkus)
Special Mention: Fish Like Us (dir. Raphaela Schmid)

AUDIENCE AWARDS
BEST FILM: Quo vadis, Aida? (dir. Jasmila Žbanić)
BEST SHORT FILM: The Little Bird and the Bees (dir. Lena von Döhren)
BEST LITHUANIAN FILM: Swamp (dir. Klementas Davidavičius)

The Vilnius Film Festival is supported by the Lithuanian Film Centre, co-funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture, Creative Europe MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Vilnius City Municipality and Go Vilnius. Vilnius IFF Kino Pavasaris is an independent private initiative.

To learn more about Vilnius Film Festival, visit this website.

More info on tourism in Vilinius here.

Big Sean – Detroit 2

Big Sean is once again on top.

His brand new album “Detroit 2” is his third consecutive album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It’s also his fifth consecutive album to debut at No. 1 on the rap chart and his fourth consecutive album to debut at No. 1 on the R&B/hip-hop chart.

“Detroit 2” features artists like Nipsey Hussle, Lil Wayne, Ty Dolla $ign, Post Malone and Travis Scott. Big Sean premiered the music video for his song “Lithuania” Sept. 4 and performed “Harder Than My Demons” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Sept. 8.

Before the album’s release, he also released videos for songs like “Deep Reverance,” “Don Life,” “Body Language” and “Everything That’s Missing.”

“Detroit 2” garnered critical acclaim from outlets like Vulture, Rolling Stone, Billboard and Detroit Free Press.

“In the world of Detroit 2, there’s always an answer. It’s a place where every pain can be fixed, any heart can be mended, and all obstacles are surmountable,” Rolling Stone said.

Detroit Free Press said, “Shimmering, textured and often explosive, ‘Detroit 2’ finds the rapper born Sean Anderson in a confident creative space.”

Since signing with G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam,  Big Sean has become one of the most popular artists in the rap game, amassing more than 1.7 billion YouTube views on his songs.

To stream “Detroit 2” on Spotify, you can click right here.

Lithuanian Natural Splendor

It is becoming all too obvious—traditional commercial tourism needs alternatives. Whether it is pollution, the accelerating threats of climate change, the loss of biodiversity or a myriad of other travel-induced problems, it all goes back to the conventional way of visiting foreign lands. Aware of that, an increasing number of people are choosing a different form of travelling—slower, more environmentally-conscious and education-focused tourism—an ecotourism.

Ecotourism involves responsible travelling to pristine natural environments with the goal of learning more about the natural world, helping the locals and contributing to ecological conservation. To encourage this kind of mindset, Lithuania—one of the lushest countries in Europe—is inviting people to visit its forest green landscapes.

“Our country is small, but it has so much to offer in terms of natural environments and biodiversity,” said Olga Gončarova, Head of Domestic and Inbound Tourism Department at Lithuania Travel. “Over the recent years, we have noticed a growing interest in our unique natural resources—lakes, forests, marshes, rivers. Instead of spending all of the vacation in cities, tourists are choosing to spend more time in nature—exploring, meditating, being. This has been very helpful in the effort of spreading ecological awareness.”

And indeed, Lithuania has some of the most interesting and unique natural wonders, four of which are designed as national reserves—a human here is just a guest.

Čepkeliai Marsh

Fresh air and ancient landscapes surrounded by taiga-type woods with wolves and lynxes strolling around—Lithuania’s most famous swamp—the Čepkeliai Marsh—is second to none when it comes to tranquility and pure nature. The famous swamp invites visitors to take a 1.5 km educational trail and explore wetlands, small lakes, continental dunes and diverse forest fauna, as well as enjoy panoramic views from the observation tower. But beware—the reserve is a highly protected ecosystem, so to limit disturbance during the bird breeding season, from April to July, only visitors with an authorized guide can enter the park (which might be even more exciting!).

Visiting hours: From July to April, the educational trail can be visited independently, with written permission issued by the local directorate. More info here.

Kamanai Reserve

Another marsh, another wonderful opportunity to experience Lithuanian nature. The Kamanai Reserve offers a breathtaking educational trail through an extremely well-preserved ecosystem—so protected that in fact you can visit it only with an official guide. The biodiversity found in the reserve is astonishing—it is home to wolves, lynxes, hazel dormice, blackcocks and a variety of other species, including the near-extinct spoonleaf sundew. While Kamanai is open all-year-round, it is especially stunning during spring and fall when the trees change color—particularly when viewed from the 30-meter-tall observation tower built next to the trail.

Visiting hours: Kamanai Reserve can only be visited with an official guide. More info here.

Viešvilė Reserve

Located in the Western Lithuania, the Viešvilė Reserve offers a guided 1.8 km tour through multiple marshes, lakes, rivers and forests. Wolves, otters, cranes and other animals are among the reserve’s permanent residents, while black alders, spruces, pines make up the majority of the forests. After concluding the hike, guests are invited to learn more about the local flora and fauna by participating in interactive activities at the visitor’s center. On top of that, the reserve is known for its exceptional nursery of wood grouses—the only place in Lithuania where you can see the birds from up close.

Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve

Visiting hours: Guided tours are available daily until 5 PM. For the weekends, booking in advance is required. Local directorate must be contacted before the arrival for availability. The educational trail is available free of charge at any time. More info here.

Though officially established in 1937, the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve has been attracting scientists and the general public since the 19th century. And for a good reason—Lithuania’s oldest and largest reserve is home to more than 2000 species of animals, including over 240 different species of birds, many of whom are classified as endangered. While the reserve is mostly composed of marshes, it also features the shallowest lake in the country, Lake Žuvintas, which, with the average depth of only 0.6 m, is often regarded as a paradise for water birds. And no wonder, this place is one of the hottest spots in the country to watch the autumn bird migration, about to reach a peak in mid-September. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Žuvintas continues to offer educational tours and engage in highly-respected scientific research.

Visiting hours: Open only during the day time, the educational trail is free of charge for small groups. Paid guided tours can be booked at visitor center. The rest of the reserve’s territory can only be visited with written permission. More info about ticket prices here.

Photo curtesy of Andrius Aleksandravičius.

Rita Azar, 360 MAGAZINE, travel, illustration

Natural Lithuania Attractions

Historically a forest country, Lithuania has much to offer travellers looking for sustainable outdoor adventure. Under-the-radar wonders of nature draw into new experiences perfect for adventure-seekers looking for ways to safely travel.

“We are a forest country,” explained Indrė Trakimaitė-Šeškuvienė, Head of Marketing at Lithuania Travel. “Forest is an important symbol of Lithuanian history and culture. Despite industrial development of the 19-20th centuries, we have preserved large spaces of natural forest. With the rise of eco-tourism these locations are turning into sites of meditation, natural health practice and other ways to achieve the deeper sense of unity with nature.”

Eco-tourism is on the rise and people who decide to travel in post-quarantine world are looking for nature experiences rather than big cities. Here are seven amazing outdoor attractions in the lush forests of Lithuania, according to Lithuania Travel.

  • Herb picking: In North-Eastern Lithuania, in the forest-surrounded town of Anykščiai, professional herbalist Ramūnas Daugelavičius combines traditional Lithuanian experience with knowledge of other cultures and scientific methods to provide unique experience of herbs. From herb picking for spices to special tea ceremonies, fire rituals and seed root coffee, travelers can follow the Lithuanian tradition.
  • Butterfly and dragonfly watching: Lithuania is the only place in the world where dragonflies are professionally monitored and marked.At Ventė ornithology station, the secrets of dragonfly migration are only now being uncovered. Not far from the station, in the Western part of Lithuania, ecotourism enthusiast Daiva Stanislovaitienė offers butterfly, dragonfly and bird watching trips combined with cozy stay in a comfortable villa.
  • Forest bathing: The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is a way to heal and restore the human spirit, which tires of work and rush of the technology-dominated world. For example, a certified guide of shinrin-yoku Mila Monk gives both private and group tours in different Lithuanian forests which visitors can join in on. 
  • The largest dreamcatcher in the world: Those with serious nightmares should visit the pine forest in Asveja regional park in Eastern Lithuania. The dreamcatcher is located in the territory of the eco-resort Golden Forest. The resort also houses a forest labyrinth of four elements which can be passed only using the intuition, and holds the annual Masters of Calm festival for active and conscious community.
  • The forest gramophone: The forest sound catcher may be found in the Curonian Spit – the natural seaside reservation in the Western Lithuania. Here, a 3 meters high gramophone-like construction enhances the natural sounds of forest which visitors can spend about half an hour inside.
  • The forest dunes: Sand dunes are the usual sight of the Baltic seaside, but, some of them are located far from the sea and deep in the forests. In the pine forests of South-Eastern Lithuania, the dunes totally transform the landscape and provide unique experience of the raw nature.
  • Meteorite crater: 165 million years ago a huge meteorite landed near Vepriai in Central Lithuania. Now, visitors can explore the site by biking along one of the many routes across the crater.

The deep, green and magic Lithuanian forest is the place to enjoy peace and solitude traveling on foot, by bike or by camper. Now, with the necessary cautions for traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, a forest-filled oasis like Lithuania is a perfect spot for globetrotters.

Vilnius Lithuania: Hidden Gem for Travelers

Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is launching a new campaign that is making fun of its own obscurity among travel destinations globally. The campaign, called “Vilnius: Amazing Wherever You Think It Is,” follows the tradition of the award-winning “Vilnius – the G-spot of Europe” campaign, which claimed that “nobody knows where it is, but when you find it – it’s amazing.”

The idea to use the city’s obscurity as a tool to draw more tourists is also backed by data. According to the 2019 study, done by Go Vilnius, the official development agency of the city which initiated the campaign, only 5% of Brits, 3% of Germans, and 6% of Israelis know more than the name and the approximate location of Vilnius.

A campaign-dedicated website will ask visitors to guess where Vilnius is for a chance of winning a trip to the city while being informed of myriad reasons why Vilnius is amazing. Both locals and tourists agree that Vilnius has a lot to offer in terms of culture, history, nature, and food. The city seems to be immersed in a forest, thanks to its parks, tree-lined streets, and actual forests surrounding it. It’s a walkable city – locals and tourists usually reach all their central destinations on foot. Those who like to fly, won’t be disappointed either – in Vilnius, you can fly over the city center in a hot air balloon, admiring its picturesque medieval streets, Baroque churches and open squares. Vilnius is also diverse in its architecture and neighborhoods – no wonder it is being chosen as a preferred filming location to such popular series as Chernobyl and War and Peace.

Besides the website, the campaign will consist of a video clip in which people on the streets of Berlin are asked if they know where Vilnius is. In this playful clip, the Lithuanian capital is placed everywhere from the Americas to Africa – everywhere but in its actual location. The video will be spread through online platforms along with advertising campaigns in target markets and selected media outlets. Finally, billboards in London, Liverpool and Berlin will portray Vilnius reimagined in various fantasy worlds.

According to the director of Go Vilnius, Inga Romanovskienė, the idea was to turn the city’s disadvantage of being a lesser-known European capital into an entertaining, fun campaign, in which Vilnius laughs at its obscurity. 

“Vilnius is continuing the course of presenting itself as an easygoing yet daring city, unafraid to laugh at its faults and break free from certain norms. Our goal is to show that no matter where people think Vilnius is located, it is a great place to go visit,” said Ms Romanovskienė.

The new campaign certainly has big shoes to fill, as its predecessor, the “Vilnius – the G-spot of Europe” campaign, was exceptionally successful at drawing attention from the global audience, making headlines in major outlets across the globe. The previous campaign was also named as the best ad campaign at the International Travel & Tourism Awards by World Travel Market in London.

The “Vilnius: Amazing Wherever You Think It Is” campaign launches on February 3rd. The campaign was created by Bechtle and Milzarajs ad agency.

ABOUT GO VILNIUS

Go Vilnius is the official tourism and business development agency of the City of Vilnius. The agency provides visitors, investors, relocating talent, entrepreneurs and businesses with all the essential information they need to know about the Lithuanian capital. Go Vilnius offers information on everything from real estate to leisure activities in Vilnius, simplifying the process of travelling, relocating to, or investing in Vilnius.