For one week every five years the Nationwide Latvian Song and Dance Festival gathers thousands of singers and folk dancers for a series of performances in Riga.
Highlights include the parade during which the city’s main thoroughfare is shut down to traffic to allow the participants to pass through. Crowds line the streets to cheer on the participants, wave to friends and family, and even rush to give them flowers as they walk past.
Favourites also include the closing night performance at the legendary open-air venue in Mežaparks which sees around 15 000 singers come together in a joint choir and hundreds of dancers perform alongside.
Concerts and competitions take place throughout the week and many are ticketed, however, visitors can attend free events at places like Vērmaņdārzs Park, and the general atmosphere in the city is fantastic. It’s rare to see so many people dressed in national costume.
The Festival is included in the UNESCO Oral History and Non-material Cultural Heritage List.
The 2018 edition will be particularly special since Latvia is celebrating its centenary