“This autumn, the Baltic States offer non-touristy activities and events for every type of traveller including flower and light festivals, a folk fair, hot-air balloon rides, and mushroom foraging.”
While the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia keep travellers busy at any season, autumn is the best time to avoid crowds and discover seasonal attractions.
This autumn, those who want to enrich their Baltic trip with authentic experiences, can take part in a folk fair and a light festival in Tallinn, a flower festival in the 19th-century manor in northern Lithuania, enjoy a hot-air balloon flight above the capital city, Vilnius, and mushroom hunting in vast Latvia’s forests.
1. St. Martin’s Fair in Tallinn
From 7-10 November, Estonia’s capital city is hosting the biggest annual folkloric lifestyle event in the country. The fair marks St. Martin’s Day holiday, a celebration of the end of preparation for winter. As one might guess, this event is the best opportunity to buy Estonia’s cosiest handicraft items and to taste traditional, seasonal food.
Furthermore, visitors can participate in workshops for handicraft lovers and craft activities for children, as well as enjoy Estonian folk music. Craft schools, museums and other local organisations walk visitors through the ethnic culture, including the oldest musical instruments, songs, dances, and traditional garments.
The highlight of the fair, the Handicraft Night, takes place on Friday night, and offers a special cultural programme. To mention a few attractions, visitors can expect a folk fashion show, live bands, a lot of traditional food, drinks and dancing.
2. Flower Festival in Manor of Pakruojis
Until the 15th of October, travellers will have an opportunity to participate in the biggest flower festival in Europe, happening at the 19th-century historical estate, Manor of Pakruojis.
Renowned local artists have turned the manor’s grounds into a mysterious fairy tale by covering them with flower carpets, various floral compositions, and sculptures. Called Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Shakespeare-inspired festival features half a million blossom plants. The event also offers plenty of cultural and history-related activities.
On weekends, guests are welcome to join the theatre performers and participate in live interpretations of scenes from the Shakespeare’s play. Guests can also join an excursion, try traditional food and drinks, visit a traditional 19th century perfume making workshop, a honey bee farm, or a sewing atelier. Manor of Pakruojis is easy to get to from Vilnius by rental car (try CityBee) or by bus.
3. Foraging for wild mushrooms in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
Nature lovers should try mushroom hunting, an ancient tradition in all three Baltic states. The countries’ vast unspoiled forests are perfect for long walks, making foraging for mushrooms a fun way to enjoy autumn colours. Cooking and tasting forest-grown goods is an experience on its own. Since many traditional local recipes include mushrooms, tasting these regional dishes is a must while visiting.
Those short on time to forage themselves, can easily try the locally-picked mushrooms at one of the many restaurants. Great opportunity to do that is during the Riga Restaurant Week, taking place between 7-13 October. This is the time when the city’s restaurants open their doors to guests seeking to try a wide spectrum of flavours for an especially affordable price of 15–20 euros for a three-course meal.
4. Wandering Lights Festival in Kadriorg Park, Estonia
Those who are looking for a romantic getaway, should visit Wandering Lights Festival between the 18th-19th of September in Estonia’s Kadriorg Park. Featuring thousands of candles and lighting installations, this free night festival is known as a celebration of fire, magic and romance. Kadriorg Park, situated in Tallinn, is the most outstanding palatial park in Estonia.
The magnificent architecture of the landscape and the palace, dating back to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, creates a magical scenery for the festival. After taking a walk on the lighted paths surrounded by lush greenery, guests can enjoy live music of the local artists.
5. Hot Air Balloon Flight Above Vilnius Old Town
Visitors can experience being in the sky, while touching the colourful treetops with their hot air balloon. Vilnius is one of the few European cities allowing hot air balloon flights above its Old Town.
Being a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest medieval old towns in Northern Europe, it is worth admiring from a different angle. Red tile roofs, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance churches surrounded by treetops create a stunning view from above.
A combination of the abundant lush greenery and the authenticity of the Old Town makes Vilnius an outstanding city for hot-air ballooning. During autumn, the capital’s parks, river valleys and rolling hills paint the scenery with the most beautiful colours.
Know before you go
Companies to try for hot-air ballooning are Hot Air Lines, Balloon.lt or Smile Balloons.
Tourism website for more info: https://www.lithuania.travel/en/