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The Lighting of the Christmas Tree Marks the Beginning of the Holiday Season in Lithuania’s Capital

Anticipation was high leading up to the annual lighting of the Christmas tree at Vilnius’ Cathedral Square this evening. Lithuania’s capital has received a lot of global attention over the years for its unique and stunning Christmas Trees, and this year’s creation, which looks like a giant clock from above, certainly did not disappoint.

Not a single tree was cut down to build Lithuania’s most beautiful Christmas tree yet. The 27-metre tall metal construction, which is made up of some 6,000 branches and over five kilometres of lighting, is definitely a sight to behold.

Looking from above, the 50-metre wide composition resembles an impressive clock with four snowflake cogwheels and 12 glowing tables that serve as clock numerals. The lighting of the giant Christmas tree clock means that the holiday season has officially begun and the countdown to Christmas is on. One doesn’t have to look too far to find the inspiration for the tree’s design; the clock hanging on one of Vilnius’ most iconic structures – the Cathedral Square Bell Tower standing right next to the Christmas tree – is said to be over 345 years old – older than Big Ben!

Vilnius transforms into a veritable Christmas wonderland during this festive month, and can be explored by taking a ride on the Christmas train, which makes its way through the city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town. Visiting the Christmas villages filled with souvenirs and festive food at the Cathedral and Town Hall Squares is an absolute must – both are open until 7 January. Moreover, a 3D tale of the birth of Jesus projected onto the walls of the Cathedral will make for an unforgettable experience for the whole family – the 15-minute story will be told four times a day starting at 5 p. m. from 25 to 29 December.

For all the romantics in the city over the holidays, the ice skating rink will awaken childhood memories of magical winters. And to top it all off, New Year’s Eve will be marked with a special interactive light installation on the Cathedral Bell Tower, reminding everybody about the power of time and the importance of history. For the most spectacular fireworks, staying at Cathedral Square as the clock strikes midnight is another must.

Visit for more tips and activity ideas, including a complete programme for an enchanting getaway filled with markets, tours, activities, and tasty culinary experiences.

Lithuania seeks experts to develop its transport strategy up to 2050

VILNIUS - The Lithuanian Transport and Communications Ministry plans to hire experts to develop the country's strategy transport and communications strategy until 2050.

Saulius Kerza, director of the ministry's Budget and State Assets Management Department, says these experts will be expected to work out optimistic, pessimistic and most realistic scenarios. 

"The experts will provide services in developing a draft strategy, as well as coordinating it with public authorities, interested parties and the general public," Kerza said. 

"They will have to present an overview of long-term transport strategies of foreign countries and international organizations, as well as recommendations on the strategy and its structure," he added. 

The ministry plans to issue a call for tender for consultants in December or early next year. Experts will be hired for the period until the end of 2019, with a possibility of extending it to late May 2020, the official said. 

The government endorsed the current long-term strategy, until 2025, in 2005. Its key priorities were the creation of a cross-border trans-European transport network and the modernization and development of the West-East transport axis.

Lithuania plans to purchase land for Rail Baltica in early 2019

VILNIUS - Lithuania's authorities plan to complete in early 2019 the procedure for purchasing land from private owners for the construction of the Rail Baltica European-gauge railway stretch from Kaunas to Lithuania's border with Latvia.  

The purchased land parcels will be registered with the Real Estate Register as state ownership, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) said. 

Landowners whose property is located along the planned Rail Baltica route are invited to sign agreements regarding the taking of their land for public needs. Such notifications have already been sent out to the majority of landowners in the districts of Kaunas, Jonava, Kedainiai, Pasvalys and Panevezys.  

Some 945 hectares of the total 1,244-hectare area needed for the railway line are on privately-owned land, with the track crossing almost 1,200 private land parcels. It also passes through 187 hectares of state-owned land. Wooded land accounts for about one-fourth of the land area needed for the project.

The total cost of Rail Baltica in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is estimated at around 5.8 billion euros. Some 2.5 billion euros are to be invested in Lithuania alone, with 85 percent of the money expected to come from the EU.

Passenger trains will be able to reach speeds of 249 km/h on the line and freight trains will n able to travel at up to 120 km/h. 

The construction of Rail Baltica up to Tallinn is planned to be finished in 2025, with the railway to become operational in 2026.