Welcome home 's Latvia hosts international folklorists

  • 2006-06-28
  • By Jody Yurkowsky
RIGA - When we say the phrase "our home," each of us understands it in their own personal way. Our home is an individual and private place that we can choose to open up to others or not. Our traditions, our identity, our expression of ourselves all come from our home. This is something that folklorists around the world take an interest in.

This summer, from July 12 to 16, Riga as well as various regions within Latvia will host the XIX International Folklore Festival "Baltica 2006" with the theme "Our Home." The festival will include concerts and events featuring over 2000 participants from Latvia and 11 other countries including Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Russia, Croatia, Georgia, China, Poland, England and Bulgaria.

The tradition of Baltica began in 1987 as a means of expressing traditional culture and promoting national self-consciousness through song, dance, craft and other traditions. It has always been a strong support for the preservation and celebration of national identity in the region. In fact, the festival is said to have been one of the catalysts for re-independence for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Baltica has taken place 19 times and Latvia has hosted it 7 of those times.
Festival events will take place in both Riga as well as other parts of the country. The official opening of the festival will take place on the evening of July 13 on Dainu Hill in Turaida. On July 14 there will be a parade in Riga's Old Town culminating in Dome Square which will be Riga's central point for the entire festival and will feature events and activities throughout the duration of the festival. There will also be concerts throughout the week in concert halls throughout the Riga.

The theme "Our Home" will also be played out by extending the festival to more remote regions of the country. On July 15, festival participants will travel to and be hosted by various folklore groups in towns and villages in Kurzeme - Liepaja, Barta, Alsunga, Gudenieki, Basi, Milzkalne, Puze, Jurkalne, Kolka, Dundaga, and Pampazi. Concerts and festivities are planned in all these vicinities. A final concert will be held on the open-air stage in Kuldiga on the evening of July 16. By bringing the festival to the regions, folklorists from all over the world will be able to explore the meaning of tradition and identity at the local level.
If you are interested in the ideas of tradition and identity, the XIX International Folklore Festival "Baltica 2006" is sure to provide you with a range of activities and options for fun summer entertainment. The concerts and activities planned outside of Riga will also surely attract tourists to lesser known areas of the country making our home their home for a short while.

The organizers of "Baltica 2006" are the Latvian National Centre for Traditional and Performing Arts, local municipalities in Latvia, the Culture Capital Foundation and the Latvian branch of CIOFF 's the UNESCO supported International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals and Folk Art.