A Glimpse into Latvian Culture: the Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration

Latvia is near and dear to my heart. I have travelled there countless times and have even gained dual-citizenship in the country. One of Latvia’s nationwide customs is to celebrate the Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration every five years for one week. This festival attracts millions of people from around the world to celebrate Latvia’s rich heritage and culture.

AKA: The Singing Nation

Latvia is known worldwide for its traditions in singing. Most Latvians, you will find, have been involved in choirs at some point in their lives. Folklore strongly influences these songs and the people of Latvia, even in modern times. They even had a “Singing Revolution” once the country became self-governed. These millions and millions of songs over the centuries encompass topics such as human life, cultural traditions; and relationships with self, a higher power, other people, and nature. The powerful influence of song in Latvia created an ever-growing group of people who wanted to advance their artistic and social ideas. Out of this was born the Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration.

About The Nationwide Song & Dance Celebration

This Celebration all started in the second half of the nineteenth century in Vidzeme, Latvia. Six musical groups joined together for the first ever “Song Festival.” The beauty of this celebration has gone so far as to touch UNESCO, naming it a “national treasure.” Folksongs are deeply ingrained in this tradition. According to StudyInLativa.eu, “There are three essential elements of these folksongs: tradition, literature and symbolism. The daina, [for example,] is a form of oral art and is a symbol that has both shaped and epitomized Latvia’s national identity for the last two centuries.” The next time the Celebration will occur is in 2018, which coincidentally is the country’s 100th birthday.

Major Staples of the Festival

There are three notable aspects of the festival, which are the following:

  • The Festival’s Opening Concert
  • Daugava Stadium
  • The Festival’s Closing Concert

The opening concert is held in Viesturdārzs Park, Riga, Latvia each year, because it is the same place as the original first concert of the Celebration almost 150 years ago.

Dancers, actors, and singers, all war against one another in a grand competition in Daugava Stadium. The productions gather tens of thousands of viewers and thousands of performers. This stadium is known nationwide as being a major hub of various artistic productions throughout the Celebration.

The Festival’s finale attracts tens of thousands of performers, let alone audience members. It showcases traditions both new and old and displays cultural norms from years past, as well as modern performing techniques. People from all over the world are drawn to this concert and it boosts the economy tremendously, as tourism spikes during this time.

Latvia’s Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration has been celebrated for over a century and it is not slowing down anytime soon. This is a national holiday every five years, and people take off time to enjoy all the Celebration has to offer. Interested in visiting Latvia? Learn more at www.latvia.travel.