Song and Dance Festival just a few days away

It's less than a week until the start of one of the undoubted highlights of the centenary calendar the XXVI Song and XVI Dance Celebration.

While it's probably too late to get hold of tickets to the main events unless you are very lucky, you can still enjoy all the sound and spectacle of this remarkable cultural gathering with LSM's Re:Play online streaming channels broadcasting coverage of all events via the internet, for which the video clip below is a trailer.

And if you are outside Latvia, be sure to pay particular attention to the coverage on the VISIEM LTV channel which is designed specifically for viewers outside Latvia and should help them avoid geoblocking issues.

The XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration will take place in Riga from 30 June to 8 July 2018 in the spirit of the Latvian Centenary. The Celebration week is the culmination of what the organisers—the Latvian National Center for Culture—and the amateur ensembles have been preparing for since the XXV Latvian Song and XV Dance Celebration.

During Celebration week, Riga will host 43 000 participants from 118 Latvian municipalities, and from many other countries where Latvians continue to uphold and develop the traditions of the Song and Dance Celebration.

There will be more than 65 events—choirs, dance ensembles, brass bands, kokle players, folk musicians, vocal ensembles, folklore ensembles, and others will perform in various events, the Latvian folk costume exhibition, the Latvian applied art exhibition, and amateur theater performances. 500,000 celebration-goers (equivalent to roughly 25% of the Latvian population) will be able to attend events, some of which require tickets and some of which are free of charge. In fact 44 of 65 total events are free of charge.

Here is a rundown of all the celebration week events.

You can follow the official Twitter account of the festival for regular (Latvian language) updates and video clips.

The official YouTube channel is another source of material, as is the official Facebook page.

After some fringe warm-up events, the XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration will open on 1 July 2018 with the traditional sacred music concert at the Riga Cathedral, followed by the Celebration Procession throughout the streets of Riga. Participants showing off their rich folk costumes will walk a route that takes several hours through the streets of Riga. The procession will conclude with a special opening event dedicated to the participants.

The most anticipated events are the great dance performance Māra's Country and the closing concert Following the Starry Path. Approximately 17 000 dancers in the Daugava Stadium will tell the history of Latvia through music, energy, movement, rhythm, color, and the patterns created by the steps of their folk dances.

Inevitably the closing concert Following the Starry Path is the hottest ticket in town when the voices of 12,000 singers on the Mežaparks Open-air Stage will perform what is in theory a three hour concert (though it usually lasts much longer). As the prepared concert ends, audience members will be invited to add their voices, and the night-time Sing-along will continue until sunrise.

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