Friday, July 5, 2013

The twelve days of Latvija: Day 8 and a change of plans

The day’s original plans were scrapped after several of us have contacted a sort of stomach bug. Luckily the boys didn’t get it, leaving me to believe that instead of a virus we’ve all gotten food poisoning, but in any case I couldn’t drag myself out of bed in time to make the longer trip to Sigulda and Limbaži. The day was spent resting, hydrating and hoping for the best; although we’ve been participating in the Latvian National Song and Dance Festival events all week, tomorrow we have tickets to the folk dancing event that would be a shame to miss.

It’s hard to ignore the Festival. With the windows open there is constantly a stream of chatter streaming in from excited concertgoers, usually accompanied by the TV or radio broadcasting one of the many events. Stepping out of the apartment you will be hard pressed to not pass at least one concert or exhibition. Vērmanes dārzs is full with the fair but also with a number of stages, each hosting a choir, theatre production or folk dancing group.

Even out for the evening you will find quality entertainment, as each beer garden, club and restaurant has live bands joining in the festivities. On any particular night I could easily find at least two or three spots I would love to attend, and a couple nights ago we managed to sneak in a visit to Egle, where one of my favorite Latvian bands Ilģi were playing.

People have arrived from all over the world to participate in the Dziesmu Svētki, including vocal ensembles from countries located in each corner of the globe. Walking the streets it is guaranteed you will bump into someone you know – even during my limited time out today I was constantly stopping to greet and talk with people. My cousins from the States have arrived in Rīga, and the boys were elated to have some time with AAE within their first couple of hours in Latvia. We already have plans with my other cousins AI on Sunday; I find it crazy that we have to travel to Latvia to see them!

The atmosphere here is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Charged with excitement and cultural pride, the feeling is that I am part of something historical, something larger than myself, my family. Watching facebook posts popping up from the singers and dancers preparing for the grand finale concerts in the next two days I am astounded at the logistics required to coordinate the massive influx of people, not to mention the endless events, museum exhibits, concerts and displays. From decorated trams to the logo adorning the city, the photography and crafts shows to the parade, it is no wonder that the eyes of the world are upon Latvia this week. Some have opted to join in, others send their greetings (like the BBC singers!), but there is no question – The Latvian National Song and Dance Festival is the very pinnacle of Latvian cultural and social life, here and abroad.


1 comment:

  1. Yesterday I watched Folk dance Grand concert on live translation trough Internet and felt the same - that it is not about myself, my family, but it is something bigger and more important. I really hope that this feeling will not loose, especially for them who are every day in Latvia.


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