The 24th. A Sweet Raging Storm

 Although hosted for the 24th time, KILKIM ŽAIBU celebrated its 27th birthday. Bruised, but unbroken, we withstood this massive and hard to control event, which has really stretched to the limits with more success we could have hoped for.

We are a non-profit organisation, consisting of enthusiasm-fuelled staff and volunteers. All our work is free and often requires not only our time and energy, but also our own material resources. Each of us contribute to the festival as much time as we can, often stealing it from our personal lives, families, and jobs that actually feed us. 

 Nevertheless, what we do have plenty of is enthusiasm and persistence. Event Management students writing their theses often ask about our strategies and, to tell the truth, we don’t have time for marketing and event trend analysis: we simply invite the bands that we love and play effin’ good metal. And we also don’t do what we don't like. That’s it. Life is too short to waste it on something uninteresting. KILKIM ŽAIBU is something we need. It’s an escape from the daily routine and a refuge for people that have their own outlook on life.


This year is a record-breaker in terms of the number of musicians: we had many bands that had even more members. 18 out of 36 bands came by plane. The majority have their members scattered in different countries, cities and time zones. The head of our logistics had a very straightforward opinion on what I should do with my guest list. Yet, he took up the task and did an excellent job in finding 23 drivers, who drove 11 vans to and from the event location day and night for nearly a week. Ukmergė-Vilnius, Kaunas, Riga. Non-Stop. Many of you are probably familiar with the feeling of preparing for a trip on your own or with your family. What do I pack, where do I sleep, when do I get there and how?... Imagine organizing trips for 200 people. All rented accommodation in a 50 km radius around Ukmergė was booked. Of course, these include the audience and other festival guests. Nevertheless, I am happy to say that the event organisers and the volunteers successfully navigated through it all and all bands reached the event and the stage on time. My sincerest gratitude for your sleepless nights!


This year was a record-breaker in the number of crafts and other activities too. The Baltic culture remains an important part of the festival – take it away and we’d have just another ordinary music event. So we’re really proud of the increasing ranks of ancient warriors, partisans, craftsmen, as well as the amounts of historical and entertaining activities. The team-mate responsible for the ancient programme counted more than 200 participants in the oak grove. That’s truly something. Thank you for tuning in to high decibels and heavy music. We appreciate your understanding and determination to celebrate the Midsummer with thunder.


Thank you for that big crowd! Your attention reminds us that we’re still needed. And your positive feedback is truly inspiring. A sincere thank you for your support. If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't be here.


You can be bending over backwards for 20 years in doing art and inviting superstars to prove that heavy music is a form of art too and deserves a place on the Lithuanian cultural landscape, but the media won’t care a bit. But it takes only one crowdsurfing portable toilet to get viral on the internet. Well, if that’s what we need to draw the society’s attention to a different form of cultural events, we’ll do our best to keep up with the spirit in the future as well.


QUEUES Yes, it was a problem, again. We had the same situation as two years ago. And we had done our homework with more security and ticketing staff ready to slay the day. But it wasn’t enough. We had so many more people coming too. The grounds of the Manor of the President Antanas Smetona is not fit for such events. We are still open for suggestions for a better location, but haven’t found any solutions so far. So we just did our best. Nevertheless, the team managed to park more than 1500 cars on the first day. On average, we had a car entering the territory every 28 seconds. In that time, the passengers of each car were supposed to go to the ticket tent for their bracelets and pick the parking option they want. Yet people are not robots and the procedures weren’t always smooth. Some had forgotten their license plate number, others wanted to know the line-up, some others yet decided to turn around unwilling to say goodbye to some of their forbidden possessions, and so on. All that on a narrow road, which is hardly broad enough for two vehicles.

The organisers and the security staff had a heated discussion on what should we do to make it better, but both sides swore that there was no better solution with the human resources available. There’s just no room for improvement. Perhaps someone else could do it. We can’t.

I did talk to Ukmergė Mayor Darius Varnas, who inquired what would it take to have the event stay in Ukmergė. I answered that we needed to solve the issue of the location. Having a free parking lot before the gate for people to leave their cars and come to the festival on foot would help solve the queues and hasten the ticketing process. The Mayor assured me he would talk to the local farmers, look for solutions and try to find a piece of land for parking, instead of crops. So, we’re still working on it.

THE TOILETS UAB Toi Toi Lietuva took up the project with GUITALAX, supported our event and lent a clean portable toilet for the audience. The number of toilets for the festival was calculated according to hygiene standards, which is one cabin for 72 people. And there were two scheduled cleanings: 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday morning, the toilets in the ‘quiet’ camping were cleaned, while the active zone nearby the ancient warrior camp and Perkūnas stage remained uncleaned. This resulted in considerable dissatisfaction among the visitors and some stress in our own ranks. The company manager was inaccessible because it was a weekend, while the cleaning team simply disappeared.  Later we found out that their vehicle got a flat tire and a broken axle in a no mobile service zone. We eventually did reach the company managers, who dispatched another cleaning vehicle from a different city and thus the issue was solved. Yet, of course, it took time, and didn’t help with the upkeeping of our reputation. We can only console in the fact that the festival is a living body, subject to human errors and force majeure situations, which can’t be solved even by the all-powerful Gutalax.


We’d like to offer a kind reminder of the reward our audience receives after getting through the long queues – these include high-quality concerts and the possibility to park your car and build your camp in the cosy depths of the park. How many European festivals do you know, where you can keep an eye on the headliner on stage while grilling your lunch? Kilkim Žaibu must be one of the very few, if any. The audience can enjoy their camp in the museum territory with gigs and other activities only a few steps away from the tent. The whole situation kind of reminds me of a huge family gathering, where you just have to sit back and enjoy. Meanwhile, some festival audiences have to leave their cars behind and embark on a few kilometre hike to get to the camping ground. Let’s just appreciate what we have.


I can only say a huge THANK YOU for both teams. The sound, the lights and the view in general was truly spectacular. Musicians, particularly our guests from the USA, were impressed with the excellent service, noting that they rarely see such high standards back at home. Jungle Rot, Crypta, Blackbraid and other bands with extensive stage experience thanked for the excellent sound and active support from the audience, while Ensiferrum assured that our stage service was better than at Wacken, not to mention the Lithuanian hospitality, which also did not go unnoticed. A big thanks for all working on Kilkim Žaibu stages – you’ve not only set the standard for our event, but also represent Lithuania for foreign musicians.


The market seems to be growing with an increasing variety of merchandise and foods. Thank you for your contribution to our festival’s growth.


My special thanks to the city’s administration, the culture department and the museum staff for supporting the event and benevolent cooperation. We feel welcome, supported and taken care of. Our smooth cooperation keeps bringing better and better results. We truly appreciate that. Thank you for your strong support!


We still feel nostalgic about Varniai, which brings back so many good memories. The Samogitian spirit has become a huge part of the festival's foundation – just like our Semigallian roots. I have to admit that the festival has considerably grown in the past three years in Aukštaitija region. It’s becoming obvious that it would be impossible to return to Varniai. We’ve simply became too big and going back to Varniai would mean scaling down. We’d have the beautiful nature and a smaller line-up. It would be difficult to bring so many foreign musicians to that remote town, not to mention having less space for crafts and other activities. We’re definitely not saying ‘no’ to Samogitia – perhaps the festival will find ways to get back to the former home. However, now we keep looking forward.


It’s not even a question. We’re already on it! 

Mark your calendars for 20-22 June 2025. 

Location: if we manage to solve the issues of our current location, we’d love to continue our residence at the home of His Excellency President Antanas Smetona.  

Thank you for your support! 

With best wishes and on behalf of Pikuolis club, 

Daividas, Kilkim Žaibu organiser  

The 24th. A Sweet Raging Storm The 24th. A Sweet Raging Storm The 24th. A Sweet Raging Storm
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