The Latvian capital Riga will officially be unveiled as the 2014 European Capital of Culture on January 17 to 19, 2014, with one of the main events being a human chain transferring books from hand to hand, from the old National Library of Latvia Building to the new “Gaismas Pils” (Palace of Light) National Library Building on January 18.
Alongside the opening program involving a large number of residents and guests, several exhibitions will also be unveiled. In the world of book publishing, the current era is often referred to as the “Second Coming of Gutenberg”. The Book. 1514-2014, an exhibition devoted to the last 500 years of the printed book and the contents of books in the 21st century, will be on view throughout the year at the newly built Latvian National Library. 1514 was a landmark year – it saw the first book printed in Arabic script, the first Jewish printing-house established, the first Torah printed, the first book published in Polish, and the first Latvian book was also to be published within the next few years.
Born in Riga– A yearlong series of solo concerts by global music stars born in Latvia, including an open-air concert in high summer.
The Latvian National Opera will celebrate Richard Wagner’s bicentenary in June 2013 with productions of all four operas of The Ring of the Nibelung cycle during the Riga Opera Festival, while in early 2014, fans of Wagner’s music will have the chance to enjoy a staging of Rienzi, an opera Wagner began in Riga. Autumn will see two original operas take to the stage – Chess by Kristaps Pētersons, dedicated to brilliant Riga-born chess player Mikhail Tal, and Arturs Maskats’ Valentīna, telling the story of an exceptional figure of the cultural history of Riga and Europe, Valentīna Freimane.
2014 also sees the centennial of the beginning of World War 1, and the whole world will be focused on reflections on this theme. Early in the year, the Latvian National Museum of Art will unveil its 1914 exhibition, lasting several months and showcasing a view of World War I as seen by famous European artists.
At the Museum of Fateful Objects, however, an exhibition will invite Rigans to bring in objects that have changed their fate, and that are witnesses of their time.
The Boulevard of Theatrical Collision will be a yearlong cycle of plays by five leading international directors. The series of performances is united by a range of topics focusing on relationships between the individual and power, individuality and sociality, the “abnormal” and the “normal”, and the personality and the masses, both on a background of great historical events and in the context of quite mundane daily life.
How do Europeans traditionally celebrate the summer solstice? In June, take the opportunity to become familiar with the heritage of various nations and experience the cheerful Latvian Jāņi traditions in Riga, as well as its partner city Sigulda and elsewhere in Latvia.
The World Choir Games– the biggest event of 2014 in terms of participants. July will bring together 20,000 singers from almost 90 countries worldwide. The choir culture of Latvia surprises time and again with its excellence, and one of the largest manifestations of national identity is still the Song and Dance Festival, which begun in 1873 and is still held in Riga once every five years.
In September, the Survival Kit international contemporary art festival will once again focus its up-to-date gaze on the socio-economic issues of Europe. Survival Kit was created in 2009 as a reaction to the changes caused in Latvia by the economic crisis.
Come autumn, cinema viewers will have the chance to explore Riga through the work of 7 famous European documentary filmmakers collaborating with social anthropologists – in the documentary film Force Majeure, showcasing the special appeal of Riga’s neighborhoods and starring Rigians themselves in the key roles.
The Staro Rīga Light Festival is Northern Europe’s largest festival of light and has become immensely popular among locals and city guests alike. In mid-November, it will entertain them for almost a whole week with surprising and technically creative works by European and Latvian light artists in the urban environment.
The Amber Route in Riga– Riga is establishing a new culture-based interdisciplinary European network. It takes its inspiration from the ancient Amber trade route, which already acted as a connection between the Baltic coast and the Mediterranean and Black Seas several thousand years ago. Baltic amber has even been found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun! You’ll see the new Amber Route in Riga’s museums throughout the year – amber artefacts and artworks will be on display, demonstrating the cultural, historical, geological, medical and artistic value of Baltic amber. From an ancient unit of “currency”, amber has been transformed into a “currency” of culture.
Riga is currently seeing creative quarters popping up like mushrooms – each with its own charm, range of activities and personalities. Throughout the year, the creative quarters will offer a program that reveals a very personal, creative and diverse side to Riga.
Creativity will also be on the menu at the RīgaPunkts science festival, a synergy of science and arts (especially music) that will encourage anyone to increase their knowledge “resolution level”. The mind will meet emotions in this collaboration between scientific laboratories and musicians, creating a unique work of art – the concert program on September 28 – as the icing on the cake of this creative union.
Information provided by the Official Latvian Travel portal www.latvia.travel