For a whole week this summer, Riga will be taken over by the most grandiose festival in Latvia – the Latvian Song and Dance Festival – gathering tens of thousands of singers and dancers from all over Latvia, who will fill the city with dancing and the sounds of folk music.
The uniqueness of this festival earned it a listing by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It was first started in 1873 with around 1000 singers and today attracts more than 40,000 participants.
Throughout the week of festivities, Riga will experience exciting singing and dancing performances, starting with the opening concert at the Song Festival Park (Viestura dārzs). There will also be choir contests, dancing and brass band concerts and, of course, the most spectacular of all events – the gala concert at the Mežaparks open-air stage.
The festival will officially open on July 1st with a traditional sacred music concert at the Riga Cathedral. The solemnity will be followed by jubilation as the Celebration Procession winds its way over several hours through Riga’s city streets. The procession is quite a spectacle with brightly coloured traditional folk costumes, vibrant dancing and singing.
This year’s festival has extra significance as Latvia celebrates 100 years of independence this year, after being declared a republic in 1918. The centenary celebrations have the motto “I am Latvia“ and “I create Latvia“ and there is no better way to express these sentiments than through song and dance.
The Latvian Song and Dance Festival will be held from Saturday 30th June to Sunday 8th July 2018 in Riga, Latvia. The full programme (including performances, the parade, demonstrations, masterclasses and exhibitions) can be viewed here online.
"Culture includes not only culture and arts, but also the way of life and system of values. In this sense culture becomes the major power for intellectual renewal and human perfection." (European Council Report on European Cultural Policy)