The widest selection of LGBT-oriented events and fun spots is concentrated in Latvia’s capital Riga, most notably in the city centre. In the very heart of Riga, in the Old Town, the very first Riga Pride Parade took place in 2005 whereas in 2009 the nearby Vērmane Park was the venue of the first Baltic Freindship Days. In 2006 the tradition of annual LGBT Film Days was established.
Gay club “XXL”
In the centre of Riga not far from the Central Station, in the calm surroundings of Alfrēda Kalniņa Street (address: 4 A. Kalniņa Str.) club “XXL” is located – a relaxation complex unique for Scandinavia with a gay sauna and a hotel. Club “XXL” is one of the oldest gay clubs in Latvia – its history dates back to July 1999 when the club opening spun off into a highlight of the year.
Now “XXL” is the most fashionable gay club in the Baltics – it is a popular hangout of the Latvian gay community attracting foreign visitors as well. The club has distinct interior, a dance-floor, a bar for undistrubed chats and video-booths with top selection of gay-themed films. The club features regular performances by popular DJs from Latvia and abroad, and its regular show programs have become renowned all over the Baltics and Europe. “XXL” arranges gay beauty contests on a regular basis and hosts the crowning ceremony of “Mister Gay of the Baltics”.
Club “Golden” (address: 33/35 Ģertrūdes Str.) is a self-proclaimed “heterosexual-friendly” bar and club. Each visitor – regardless of his or her sexual orientation – is greeted by smiling bartender, cozy and intelligent atmosphere and a pleasantly laconic interior. The club consists of a bar, a dance-floor and a nice terrace for cooling down after a hot dance session and maybe to initiate a conversation with an attractive stranger. The bar has comfortably high chairs which can be rearranged to accommodate a cheerful company of friends or colleagues, or to create a more intimate setting for couples.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the club is open already from 17 o’clock – while sipping your afternoon tea watch the sky through the glass ceiling of the bar.
Restaurant “Dorian Gray”
Another homosexual-friendly place is the restaurant “Dorian Gray”, borrowing its name from the excentric character of Oscar Wilde and located at 1 Mazā Muzeja Str. in the Old Town. During the summer season it has a spacious outdoor terrace with shaded tables offering a cool respite even on the hottest days. Apart from the delicious food and good-quality beverages, the restaurant has an evening program with great music and films. Every last Wednesday of the month in cooperation with “Mozaīka”, the alliance of LGBT people and their friends, the restaurant organises screenings of LGBT films. Follow “Dorian Gray” on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DorianGrayRiga
The majority of Latvian population is fairly neutral towards LGBT people, however, due to a somewhat reserved Nordic character people do not always tolerate public expressions of intimacy and tenderness. While kissing on the street of a Riga suburb or a rural district of Latvia chances are you will have to confront a certain lack of understanding and a less tolerant attitude.