RIGA - It's about time Riga had some action this summer, and Europeade is just the ticket. It's one of the largest international folk culture festivals in Europe, and it's coming to town from July 21 to July 25 in what will undoubtedly be one of the cultural highlights of the summer.
Some 150 groups and 5,000 participants from 20 countries will be taking part in the festival, which will overwhelm the streets of Riga in a cornucopia of brightly colored costumes, song and dance throughout its five-day duration.
Europeade will be the biggest event held in Riga since Latvia acceded to the EU back in May, and the city is pulling out all the stops to make sure that the flood of expected tourists have a good time. As its name obliquely suggests, Europeade is all about celebrating the diversity of traditional European culture.
The festival was founded back in 1964 when folk music enthusiasts from Germany, France, Spain and Italy came together and formed the first International Europeade Committee. Since the first festival, which was held in Antwerp, the festival has grown into a major annual event that is held each year in a different city.
There are currently 38 members of the IEC, representing different European countries and regions. The festival's express aim is to: "...bring together the folk cultures of Europe and build up a common cultural space, characterized both by a shared European heritage and cultural and artistic diversity and to continue to develop an established long-term structure for cultural dialogue among the peoples of Europe."
The festival officially gets underway on the evening of July 21 with a folk-culture concert at Kongres Nams. The following day sees plenty of events spread out around the city in Old Town squares and city parks. There will also be a forum taking place throughout the day at Skonto Hall, and in the evening there will be a huge three-hour concert at Skonto Stadium beginning at 8 p.m.
There are plenty of concerts, street performances and forums taking place over July 23 and July 24 as well. Indeed, the streets of Riga's Old Town should resemble the location of a medieval film with so many people walking around in their national folk costumes. But one of the weekend's highlights will definitely be the parade of all the festival participants from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. that begins at Dome Square and passes all the way along Brivibas St. to the Daile Theater.
The festival concludes on July 25 with a concert at Skonto Stadium beginning at 3 p.m.
Europeade will hopefully bring a much needed dose of fun and good will to what has so far been a woefully bad summer in terms of weather. There should be a real carnival atmosphere around town, as hundreds of people freely mingle on the streets. Now that's not something you see everyday in Riga. o
July 21 - 25
For more information and festival schedule visit www.europeade.lv