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Latvia is not only rich in sights and attractions but also a place where you can play an active part in craft workshops, holiday celebrations and cooking. So, you can not only take home beautiful memories of your adventures in Latvia, but also perhaps a handmade clay pot or a homemade loaf of bread.
From May until September, most of Latvia’s towns organise city festivals. Concerts, games, parties, demonstrations and tastings make for a brilliant experience. Local craftsmen and food producers offer their wares at markets, and you can even try your hand at making something.
One of the most unusual holidays in Latvia, where ancient traditions have blended with contemporary celebrations, is Līgo night or the celebration of Jāņi (Midsummer) on 23 June. During Līgo holidays, Latvians and their guests make flower wreaths and take part in rituals - the bravest ones can try jumping over a bonfire.
Songs are sung while waiting for the sunrise. This is a real holiday for gourmets as well – before the holiday, markets are organised offering a wide variety of traditional caraway seed cheese and beer. Almost every town has an open-air dance party; sometimes with zestful attractions such as naked races.
Arts and crafts workshops
To get to know ancient crafts and craft traditions, you can visit craft workshops, where you can test your skills at basket weaving, wood carving, yarn spinning, knitting, string twisting, clay pot making and more.
For example, during a visit to the pottery masters in Latgale you can watch how clay masterpieces are created in authentic conditions with various mythological characters and symbols, as well as to try it out yourself. At weaving studios, you can watch weavers make patterned blankets and other items, as well as sit at the loom yourself.
A gastronomy festival takes place at the end of August and the beginning of September in Riga. Visitors can enjoy a journey of taste through Latvia, as well as take part in seminars and cooking classes. Throughout the year, several bakeries throughout the country offer bread-baking classes, during which you can bake your own loaf of traditional rye bread and bring it home. In Kurzeme, several farms offer the chance to watch the making of Sklandrauši (carrot and potato mash tarts), taste them, as well as to make them yourself. Other farms and visitor centres offer tea workshops, wine tasting, and fish smoking workshops, as well as less traditional activities like baking pizzas outdoors.
Nowadays, many museums let visitors take part in creative workshops, demonstrate ancient craft-making, and allow visitors to try their hand as well, for example at Āraiši Archaeological Museum Park. Many museums organise ethnic holiday celebrations, where visitors can get involved in traditional games and rituals.
Museum Night is held every year in mid-May. During the event, museums are open to visitors until late at night, which lends an air of mystery and special sensations.