Whether they live in Lithuania or are only coming for a visit, people still feel a sense of anticipation in the days before Kaziukas Fair, or Kaziuko Muge as it is known in Lithuania. This enormous outdoor crafts, souvenir, food, and art market fills Old Town Vilnius to bursting with vendors, musicians and performers, and, of course, visitors—including travelers who make it to Vilnius particularly for the fair.
Celebrating St. Casimir
The fair is traditionally held near the Lithuanian holiday of St. Casimir’s Day, March 4th—usually, the weekend closest to this day is designated for Kaziuko Muge—in honor of St. Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania. Officially three days long, from Friday to Sunday, the fair attracts vendors from Vilnius, other areas of Lithuania, and nearby countries, such as Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, and Poland.
St. Casimir’s Fair starts off with an effigy of St. Casimir leading a parade. You’ll see people in folk costume and those wearing medieval-style clothing, and you may even see an “iron wolf” in honor of the founding of Vilnius. (Vilnius is said to have been founded when a Lithuanian Grand Duke dreamed of an iron wolf.) This type of procession originated in the early 17th century and began to be accompanied by a trade fair. Today, it’s one of Vilnius’ largest annual events!
Largest Outdoor Market
Though the weather is often gray and still chilly–it’s March in Vilnius, after all–crowds are typically impressive. The fair occupies Gediminas Avenue, snakes around Vilnius Cathedral, and depending upon the number of vendors that year, can spill into side streets. Some years it’s so large, the only way to see it all is with significant determination and stamina.
What Can You Buy at the St. Casimir Day Fair?
The opportunity to shop is the main feature of the fair–so what can you buy? The better question is what can’t you buy?
While some booths at Kaziukas Fair represent well-known Lithuanian brands, others are operated by people who spend the entire year making items to sell specifically at this Vilnius outdoor market. While it may feel overwhelming, the organizers of the event do a good job of grouping the stalls by theme, for example, food vendors grouped together or jewelry makers given a specific location.
Additionally, a large part of the fair is dedicated to traditional wares made specifically in Lithuania, and these are given prime real estate, typically on Gedimino Ave. or near Vilnius Cathedral.
Traditional, Folk, and Handmade Crafts
Consider keeping your eye out for:
- Traditional Lithuanian crafts: woven belts, pottery, Lithuanian decorated eggs, straw ornaments, papercuts, and verbos, or Lithuanian Easter palms
- Handmade jewelry: find gold and silver pieces, bronze work in pagan motifs, amber, beadwork, ceramic jewelry, and leather jewelry
- Baskets: wicker hampers, picnic baskets, lidded baskets, and decorative baskets
- Clothing: hand-dyed silk, Lithuanian linen, hand-woven scarves, fur hats, knitted socks, coats and jackets, and felt and wool
- Leather: bags and purses, notebooks and book covers, pouches, belts, and gloves
- Natural products: beeswax candles, honey, herbal teas, handmade soaps, and cosmetics
- Wooden products: cutting boards, utensils, children’s toys, coasters, and interior decorations
Design Square is a feature of Vilnius’s outdoor markets that has proven popular in recent years. This tented area is dedicated to artisans of jewelry, clothing, bags, and more. These are Lithuania’s trend-savvy, creative, often young designers building their brands. You’ll get a sense of modern Lithuanian style when you visit the Design Square.
Vendors from Other Countries
But Kaziukas Fair is not just for Lithuanian-made products. Vendors from neighboring and nearby countries also attend.
For example, you may encounter boots selling Belarusian felt hats and boots, Latvian snacks, Ukrainian eggs, or Polish ceramics.
Food at Kaziuko Muge
What would an outdoor fair be without food? Food at Kaziukas Fair comes in two forms: that which you can eat on site and that which you take with you to enjoy at home.
Some types of food are also packaged for those who would like to use them for souvenirs and gifts, such as teas, Lithuanian apple cheese, or honey.
Hot dishes and snacks include:
- Spurgos (Lithuanian donuts)
You can also stock up on:
- Smoked fish
- Lithuanian cheeses
- Different types of bread
- Candy and gingerbread cookies
- Fresh produce
- Beer and kvass
- Cured meats
Tips for Enjoying Kaziukas Fair
Because this event is so popular and well-attended, it’s best to keep a few things in mind if you want to make the most of it.
- Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately! March can still be cold, and rain or snow isn’t unusual for this time in Vilnius. You’ll be outdoors for a significant amount of time and will be glad you brought those gloves or that hat you thought about leaving behind. And wear good walking shoes.
- Take your own bags! Not all vendors have practical bags for carrying away goods. Take along a couple of reusable bags to fill with your finds.
- Keep your wallet and phone close. Vilnius is typically a safe city, but as in any crowded area, it’s important to be aware of your belongings.
- If you can, visit on Friday, when many people are still at work. Not all vendors will be set up by then, but the pace is slower and the crowds thinner, and you’ll have the ability to browse more easily without being jostled.
- If you see a vendor you want to return to, spot a landmark to help you do so. Otherwise, you may mean to return and not be able to find the booth. Also note that the same vendor may not be in the same place the next day, so if you’ve spotted something unique that you would like to buy, it’s better to do so the same day.
- Think about birthdays and holidays as you shop. Kaziuko Muge is a grand opportunity to do a lot of Christmas and birthday shopping all at once. Make a list of people you’d like to buy for and keep an eye out for items that suit their style.
- Take cash. Many vendors are now able to accept credit card, but the majority prefer or are only able to accept cash.
- Talk with the shop owners and artists. They’re typically happy to tell you how their wares are made, direct you to their online shop, or help you choose a gift for yourself or someone else.
- Keep your travels in mind. The ceramicists and potters that show up at the fair offer beautiful work, but you’ll have to get what you buy home. Doing so in a suitcase isn’t impossible, but it does require some proper planning and careful packing.
Kaziukas Fair isn’t only for shopping—you’ll hear music and see dancers and other performers. It’s also a great social event! So, if you’re in Vilnius at the beginning of March or are considering planning a trip during that time, do visit Kaziuko Muge for a unique Lithuanian experience!