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History and culture
Latvia, at the crossroads of Western and Eastern culture, as well as its chequered history, has had an imprint left on it from different cultures. This impact has given Latvia magnificent architectural monuments, as well as religious diversity, and contributed to the self-preservation of the Latvian national identity – here ancestral traditions are still held in high esteem.
Opera and theatre
Latvia boasts ancient traditions and a high level of achievement in the performing arts. Fans of classical music are treated each year to two major opera music festivals – the Riga Opera Festival and the Sigulda Opera Festival, in which not only artists from the Latvian National Opera take part, but also notable visiting artists.
In Riga, as well as the regions, are many professional theatres with brilliant actors – Dailes Theatre, The National Theatre of Latvia, Daugavpils Theatre, Liepaja Theatre, Valmiera Drama Theatre, and a Puppet Theatre.
The Latvian love for the theatre is confirmed by an active amateur theatre scene.
Folklore and ethnic traditions
There is a rich heritage of folklore in Latvia, which has been preserved to the present day. The most popular holiday is the summer solstice – the day of Līgo and Jāņi (midsummer). A bonfire is lit on almost every hill and frothy beer and Jāņi cheese take prime position on almost every table. The Latvian Song and Dance Festival is considered one of the symbols of Latvian identity, which occurs once every five years.
Latvia is not only rich in sights and attractions, it is also a place where you can take an active part in various activities like craft workshops, traditional celebrations and food preparations. So, you can take with you not only beautiful memories of your experiences in Latvia, but also perhaps a handmade clay pot or homemade bread.
Music and festivals
Music and singing is close to the heart for Latvians, and many Latvians sing in choirs and play in ensembles and orchestras. The tradition of singing is an important part of holidays.
Each year, many concerts and festivals take place in Latvia. Classical music concerts take place all year round, and summer is festival season. Join the dancing crowds at events like Positivus and Summer Sound, or enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at a blues or classical music event.
The majority of sacred buildings in Latvia belong to one of the three major religions in Latvia – Catholic, Lutheran, or Orthodox, however Old Believer, Jewish and Baptist churches and temples can also be found.
Majestic cathedrals stand beside small churches and places of worship. The vaults and stained glass windows will be recognised by cultural connoisseurs as almost all of known European art and architectural styles are featured.
Latgale – the centre of Catholicism in Latvia - offers magnificent sacred art objects. Here you can find the Aglona basilica, which is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Northern Europe.