Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Baltic Christmas Day 6 - Jarmarka at the Art Academy of Latvia

Today on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas we welcome Lelde, writer at the blog Life in Riga. Designed to help you move to, live in, appreciate and understand Latvia and its residents, the blog was created to show readers the “real Rīga,” and has everything from tales of the Latvian passport office to interviews with folks that have moved to LV from all over the world. Who better to give us the scoop on the holidays in Rīga?! Without further ado, here’s Lelde on Jarmarka!

Photo credit Ģirts Raģelis, LIAA
Twice a year I find myself opening what is probably Riga's heaviest door to enter a different and very beautiful world - the Art Academy of Latvia. The first time is in February for the academy's annual party night and what happens there shall certainly stay there. However, the second occasion is one I'm much more keen to talk about - Jarmarka - the student and graduate art fair. Note, it's actually pronounced Yarmarka.

During Jarmarka (which takes places in December), the academy open its doors to gift-seekers and art collectors looking to spot the next rising star or pick up a rare-to-come-by piece by an established young artist. Think paintings, sketches, fashion samples, jewelry and homeware. It's heaven! Visitors can freely browse the selection of goods which is restocked quite regularly so you can keep coming back. Prices vary and I wouldn't call them cheap, but they shouldn't be since everything is produced by hand.

Photo credit Ģirts Raģelis, LIAA

In previous years I've picked up a drawing which still makes me smile every time I glance at it on my bathroom wall, brooches and earrings which have traveled to friends and family in Australia and other far corners of the world, and dishes I've filled with candy and given as Christmas gifts. There's no shortage of talented Latvians, and the academy seems very good at nurturing these talents.

The atmosphere at the fair is always really pleasant. It can get crowded so you may end up rubbing shoulders with the person next to you while you're both rummaging through piles of pottery or boxes of sketches, but it's nothing like the videos you see of Black Friday sales across the world!

Photo Ernests Dinka, LMA

Jarmarka is a great alternative or an addition to Riga's more "traditional" Christmas markets in the neighbouring Esplanāde park, on Dome Square and Līvu Square. In 2017, it's on from December 20th to 30th. Enjoy! Or plan your visit in time for next year's edition.

Lelde Benke is a 29-year-old Latvian and a copywriter of sorts, fortunate enough to have lived in Rīga, Melbourne, Edinburgh, Brussels and Quebec City. She works in tourism marketing promoting Latvia to people who have a vague idea of where it is and what it’s all about. For more from Lelde, please visit her blog Life in Riga, and you can follow along on Facebook and Instagram! For info on Jarmarka, please visit the official website!

Venus of Willendorf 21st century by Brigitta Zelča in front of the Art Academy

Tomorrow we will journey to Atlanta, GA for Kūčios on Day 7 of 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas… See you there?

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