Three for the Weekend in Latvia: Līgo, līgo, līgo!

If you happen to be in Latvia this weekend, congratulations - you picked the perfect time to visit. The weather forecast is good and more importantly, it's Midsummer, so the entire nation is in party mood.

Grass market in heart of Rīga

The Grass Market is an essential part of the Midsummer celebration tradition. Happily, the market sells a lot more than grass. Dozens of stalls offer handmade goods including the famous wreaths and flower garlands that are an integral part of the 'Ligo' and 'Jani' Midsummer celebration. 

As always, this year's Grass Market will take place in the central Dome Square, literally in the shadow of the cathedral, for one day only on 21 June from 09.00 to 19.00. As well as the beautiful floral creations here will be farm produce, cheese, bread, meat, fish, honey, herbal remedies and craft products.

Throughout the day Dome Square will echo to the sounds of live music see the musicians, dance groups, folk groups and brass bands all putting in live performances. It's a feast for all the senses (and for tourists a once-a-year opportunity for the most amazing souvenirs).

If you miss the market on June 21, there's also the Kalnciema market on June 22. 

 

Līgo beside the Daugava

The most popular place for Rīgans to gather to mark Midsummer is the embankment beside the River Dauagava between Rīga Castle and the Stone Bridge ( 11. novembra krastmala). On 23 June the concerts and other activities begin at 17:00 and will continue through to 04:30 when everyone has greeted the sunrise. There is an extensive program of events with catering and other facilities on hand, and public transport will be operating (free of charge) to help people get to and from the center. The full timings are listed in this document (in English). 

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Watch Latvian films from anywhere in the world

If you can't be physically present in Latvia this weekend, fear not! To coincide with the Ligo festival the National Film Center of Latvia portal filmas.lv has a two-week online festival of Latvian film that allows anyone, anywhere in the world to watch a selection of classic movies for a two week period. 10 Latvian films are included "as a special greeting to the Latvian Diaspora on national holidays" though sadly for people who do not speak Latvian, they are not all subitled. The films included consist of a mixture of classics from the past and some of the best contemporary movies, including documentaries. Full listings available at the special website.

We would suggest starting with a viewing of the classic comedy Limuzīns Jāņu nakts krāsā, which is essential viewing every Midsummer!

 

Special bonus venues: fields and forests

While on the one hand it's nice to commune with your fellow man and celebrate Midsummer together, there's also a great deal to be said for heading off into nature and enjoying a quieter form of celebration. Many people choose to do this, packing a tent or less in order to spend the night among the glories of the Latvian landscape. Watching the sunrise to the accompaniment of the dawn chorus is something you'll never forget.

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