Latvia Weekend Events: Christmas of course

Latvia will probably see no snow during the holidays, but it doesn't mean that things will stop. Here's our weekly events guide focusing on what to do - where to buy unique Christmas presents and listen to music - if you've found yourself in Latvia in this quiet time, as seen by LSM's culture editors.

Listening your way way to Christmas

There are numerous events held across churches in Latvia. On December 20 at 1 PM the St. Gertrude New Church will host the last advent concert of the Riga Advent Music Celebration, where musicians will tell stories through their performance. Goran Gora, Haralds Sīmanis, Ieva Akuratere, Arnis Miltiņš, Anete Kozlovska and Laura Bicāne will perform a grandiose show - some of them together with their families. Entrance is free.

Whiel Friday at 7 PM the Torņakalna Church will resound with a European Christmas festival performance with the Rīga Dome Boys Choir and the chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga, performing Haydn's Creation. Soloists Elīna Šimkus, Lotārs Odiniuss, Rihards Mačanovskis will also be present, conducted by Mārtiņš Klišāns.

On December 18 at 7 PM flautist Dita Krenberga and the Latvian National Symphony string orchestra will perform at Lielā ģilde in the best traditions of Italian baroque. Musicians say modern people with respect for tradition will enjoy the concert. 

On December 18 the Aizkraukle Roman Catholic Church, as well as on December 19 the Kuldīga Saint Anne's Church and on December 20 the Rīga Lutheran Church in Torņakalns (all at 7 PM) will resound with the concert "With the Heart in an Angel's Palm", featuring Endija Aleksandra Rezgale, Dainis Skutelis, Ģirts Ķesteris un Melisa Kovaļova. The program will feature etudes, miniatures and poetry with songs from Latvian and world music. 

The Cēsis hall will see on December 18 at 7:30 PM the Funky Christmas concert where the Latvian Radio Big Band as well as the Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren will perform Christmas works in modern arrangements and with unparalleled energy.

While the Liepāja concert hall Lielais Dzintars will on December 19 and 20 see a concert titled Christmas in the City of Wind with pieces from numerous Latvian and foreign composers, as well as a completely new piece with words by the celebrated musician Igo. 

Gifts and goodies

The beginning of the new solar year - this year it starts on 22 December, 6:49 AM - is marked by numerous rituals, and since longer than anyone can remember fairs are held where you can get a taste of authentic Latvian crafts and arts.

From December 16 the Latvian Academy of Art hosts Jarmarka, a yearly charity initiative - an exhibition coupled with an art fair - that offers the chance to buy original pieces of art for your loved ones. Jarmarka hosts some 10,000 works of art, starting from interior objects, paintings, dishes, jewelry and others. 

On December 19 from 11 AM to 3 PM the Valmiermuiža brewery will host a fair where people eager to sell off their wares will present tasty food, creative (and thoughtful) gifts as well as hold workshops and at 7 PM a celebration feast accompanied by a youth folk group.

On December 21 the wonderfully weird Yule Log Eve will be held at 6 PM in Old Riga in the Rātslaukums. The Yule Log is a specially selected log burnt on a hearth around the period of Christmas. It will be dragged around streets and squares of Old Riga, accompanied by several folk groups in an event sure to cause merrymaking and revelry even among those who find it super strange. 

While the Iļģi folk band has a tradition to present a special, once-in-a-year program before Christmas. It consists of olden Latvian winter solstice songs with medieval motifs. The solstice concert will be held on December 20 at 11:55 PM at the Rīga concert hall. It will feature a reunion of sorts with the former member Zane Šmite, culminating with the arrival of the astronomical solstice, which is actually slated for December 22, 6:49 EET. 

Also, here's a video of many Latvian Television people acting a bit silly. 

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