Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Latvian Song Festival in Baltimore

Latvians call themselves a nation of singers, and folk-song tradition is a large part of our nation's identity. For more than a century we have upheld this tradition with national song and dance festivals, up to tens of thousands of singers and dancers performing in unison in the festivals in Latvia. The singing festival tradition arrived in the US in the 1950s along with the Latvian refugees, and today a festival occurs about every five years. American cities take turns hosting the event, and this summer the Latvian Song and Dance Festival returns to the East Coast.

With everything from concerts to theater productions to boat rides and parties included in the schedule, the Dziesmu un deju svētki have something for everyone: all ages, Latvian-speakers and English-speakers, families and singles. We don’t live in a city that has a Latvian center and therefore aren’t a member of a choir or folk dancing group, but the song and dance festivals take on an extra significance for our family; they provide the opportunity to travel to Latvia, no passports needed! Baltimore will be inundated with Latvians in the coming week, thousands seeking to meet with friends & family, get a bit of Latvian shopping done at the tirdziņš, take in a concert or two (or three!), browse the art exhibit, and experience Baltimore’s hospitality.

Everything you need to know about the four days of concerts, exhibitions, shows and events occurring in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and surrounding neighborhoods can be found on the official website, XIV Vispārējie dziesmu un deju svētki ASV, including events, tickets and logistics info (for site in English, click here). With over 400 choir singers and 780 dance troop members participating, theater troops from the US and abroad, DJs & bands from Canada and Latvia, this global phenomenon will not be repeated so close to home for another five years!

However, if you can’t make it to Baltimore for the festival, I hope you’ll join Femme au Foyer on a virtual journey to Baltimore. In addition to blog posts, I will also be tweeting and posting on Instagram. If you will be at the festival, let’s connect; I would love to see Baltimore through your eyes, and will be retweeting & publishing a collection of my favorite pictures and posts next week (remember to use #dziesmusvetki2017 and #latviansongfest2017 in your social media posts).

See you in Baltimore!

If you're interested in reading more about the Song & Dance Festivals and the tradition of song in Latvian culture, please see the following posts:


  1. Yayyy, see you there! Just FYI, according to the organizing committee, the official hashtags to use for this event are #latviansongfest2017 and #dziesmusvetki2017. :)

    1. That's funny - I originally had #latviansongfest2017 and didn't see that it was being used by the official twitter account, so I went with a simpler version (because that was being used)... Thanks for spotting my error!


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