Latvian Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration in RigaToday is the beginning of 24th song festival - unique celebration of choral songs, which started 135 years ago with the first song festival. In these times under the rule of Russian Czar, later they continued during the short freedom period as well as even in Soviet times. This year about 35 000 singers and dancers will come to Riga to sing and dance in various concerts. This means more than 2% of all Latvians are coming together to sing and dance and many many more are coming to see them on the concerts or via TV.
Brief historyThe first All Latvian Song Festival took place in Riga, year 1873. There were 1003 singers in these times. Under the Russian Czar there were 5 festivals. During the Latvian independence there were 4 festivals and participant count raised to more than 14 000 people. During the Soviet times these festivals partially become the weapon of Soviet propaganda, however these were like two-edged sword, for example, the 100th anniversary of song festival in 1973 was some kind of emotional uprising against Soviet regime. Since 1990 song festivals are held in independent state again and the participant count has raised to impressive more than 2% of all Latvians. The learning process of songs and dances is continued all the time and it is worth to mention that noone pays a single santīms (centime) to participants both for preparation process lasting a few years and also the very festival, although of course there is governmental material support for the organizational purposes of the festival.
During the festival there are many concerts and other kind of events. I'll mention a few of them. The first is participant parade. In the picture below one can look at one of the best choirs in the world "Kamēr", which has won many international awards and also takes part in this festival.
The second one is main dance concert. In recent times more than 10 000 dancers are taking part in it.
The last and biggest event is the final concert with all the singers in one big choir. It is very impressive moment.
- Gaismas pils (Castle of Light) - one of the favourite Song Festival songs of all time, one of the symbols of resistance against oppressors
- The official website of Latvian Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration in Riga, July 5-12, 2008
- Photo gallery of the current festival
- History of Song Festivals