Weekend Events Guide: Festivals lay waste to Latvia

The grass is greener on the other side, but not at festivals as it's stomped and trampled on repeatedly, leaving brown, puddly remains where exuberant green was before. This year there are more 'festivals' than ever, though the precise number remains elusive as it's too tedious to count them all.

Some say that the term festival has been worn out, as now there are festivals without any actual festivities - or at least some that are not celebrated in a particularly festive way. But there is good to be found in the plurality as well, as now you'll find something that suits you, no matter how strange your taste.

A new wave after the New Wave

The first yearly Jūrmala festival shows that the departure of the New Wave hasn't left the city empty (the concert hall in the picture will be full on Friday evening). On July 24 at 8 PM a concert commemorating the great BB King, as performed by the Latvian Radio big band and renowned soloist Diane Schuur, will be held at the great hall of Dzintari concert hall, while the small hall will see the performance of the Tbilisi big band at 6PM. On July 25 at 7:30 PM the entertainer music collective "Tenors of the XXI century" will hold a popular repertoire concert while the festival will be closed on July 26 at 8 PM when Viennese waltzes and opera arias will be held by a number of talented singers conducted by Vello Pähn. Here's the festival calendar with info & tickets. 

Jazz hands

The Saulkrasti Jazz festival will also conclude this weekend, with concerts held in the sunny coastal town of Saulkrasti - the joke is on you, because Saulkrasti actually means 'sunny coast' in Latvian. Of particular interest will be the July 24 concert, starting at 7 PM and featuring Dāvis Jurka «Strings Attached» (Latvia), Jolanta Gulbe Paškeviča «Fly Love» (Latvia, Sweden) and Carole Bakotto (Cameroon), while the closing concert will feature exotic guests like Shalosh (Israel) and The Syndicate (Austria, France, Brazil, Ukraine, India). It will be held on July 25 at 7 PM in Minhauzena Unda. Information about the festival.

Ye who walk towards the light

The introverted music festival Ad Lucem ("towards the light" in Roman speak) will continue its spiritual wanderings on July 24 at 8 PM in the Spīķeri concert hall in Riga with the Nordic Music Masters concert, performed by the progressive folk music act Groupa. On July 26 at 11 AM the Songs of the Sun will be held in Sigulda, in the garden of the New Castle, by young people keen on post-folklore. While at 6 PM the Finnish Duo Mitrej will show off their contemporary music and dance in the Sigulda White Grand Piano Concert hall.

Taking Salacgrīva with sheer numbers

While the city of Salacgrīva is still suffering from a concussion from the Positivus festival, another festival will bring starkly contrasting feelings - the International classical music festival of Salacgrīva. On July 24 at 7 PM at the Salacgrīva culture house the festival will be opened with a concert by the Khachaturian trio from Armenia, special guest (VIOLA) Maxim Novikov, while master classes will be held on July 25 at 4 PM in the Liepupe castle mound, and Chamber music masterpieces will be performed at 7 PM in the Salacgrīva culture house. 

Hustle and bustle in Cēsis

The town of Cēsis will be teeming with life as the city festival will take place with fairs, concerts and the likes (you might want to run the festival schedule through Google Translate as information in English is quite scant). The Fono Cēsis great concert will bring a number of rock bands to the scenic city in the Vidzeme region. Concerts will be held on July 24 and July 25, featuring 13 bands, including Skyforger, Momend, Elephants from Neptune, Aurora, Pērkons and others. 

While flower children of the Sviests ("butter") festival will be taking over the garden of the Cēsu castle from 12 to 19 PM on July 25. A release of an ethno-folk music album will be celebrated, and bands from the record will perform for an audience that minds the ancient traditions of the region - workshops will be held, teaching participants to play musical instruments and to learn about the energizing beauty found in nature.

So go ahead - enjoy your head spinning from the sheer multitude of things happening in Latvia. 

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