Riga celebrates its 809th birthday

  • 2010-08-19
  • By Anna Kravcova

TIME MACHINE: Alexandre Vassiliev’s exhibition in Art Deco style, will carry the visitors back to the 1920s.

RIGA - If with time people are growing older, towns are getting better. Every year is a medal of maturity on a town’s chest. Riga’s citizens are wise enough to realize this fact, and gladly celebrate every birthday of their beloved city. Since the times of the 800th anniversary, people took the pleasure of the idea of uniting in all kinds of entertaining activities, with the feast Rigas Svetki, as it is called in Latvian. This year Riga Days will take place on Aug. 20 - 22, adding one more holiday to the official weekend.

The largest part of Rigas Svetki is dedicated to active rest. Most of it will come about on the second day of the celebration. On Aug. 20 and 21, “VEF Riga” sports club will organize an all-day long basketball tournament, with the ultimate goal to popularize sports and an active way of life. For this reason there will be no professional players. Everyone who wishes to take part in this competition may apply for it on the Web site www.vefriga.com. Besides, to make the event even more exciting, it is announced that some Latvian celebrities will also be there to join the game.

Remembering that Riga is a port town, feast organizers seized an opportunity to set up all kinds of water sports activities. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Daugava river area, there will take place the rowing competition “Ostas Airi,” which will include kayaks, canoe and rubber boats. At the same time, at Riga City Canal there will happily sail pedal boats. Competition will be mixed with funny team performances.

Other leisure sports will also include a rollers race, the Para Olympic orienteering squad “TAKU-O-ABC,” airplane parade “FLY-IN-SPILVE,” cartoon rally and cycling criterium “Triatel Xrace.” In addition, on Aug. 21 in the city center there will be an interesting and challenging three-round game for all comers. 

Those who take interest in ancient legends and stories would most probably like to join an exciting walk through the Old Town on Saturday, where town legends will be theatrically performed by eight mimes. Visitors will get to know such stories as “The Story of Swedish Gates,” “The Legend about a Magpie,” “Is Riga Ready?,” “The Legend of Cat’s House,” “Street Name Legends,” “The Legend about the City’s Origin,” “Riga Stones Legend,” “The Legend about Big Peter’s Hiding-place,” and “The Legend about a Big Fish,” Written materials will be available in Latvian and English. Similar activity is organized by Riga History and Navigation Museum, which offers theatrical excursions in Latvian, Russian and English.  

Apart from outdoor activities, Riga’s citizens and guests will also have the chance to enjoy several classical orchestra and chorus performances. The first of them will take place already on Friday in Riga City Hall. The concert will be opened by a Finnish symphonic orchestra Tapiolas at 3 p.m. The group consists of 70 talented students of Espo Music Institute (EMO). In addition to Friday’s event, they will also give a concert at St. Peter’s Church on Saturday. Then, the baton will be passed to Riga Symphony orchestra, which will perform both Latvian and foreign composers’ works by G. Rosini, A. Skulte and A. Maskata. Later on, there will take place a trumpet concert and performances by popular Latvian singers.

One of the possible attractions will be a number of prominent exhibitions. Museum of Decorative Art and Design presents the works of a famous Russian couturier Alexandre Vassiliev in Art Deco style. Dresses and accessories together with pictures, paintings, video and audio installations will take all visitors back to the 1920s, the times of jazz, Charleston, foxtrot, embouchures, cloche and boa.

To promote and encourage people for creative work, Cultural Center “Ilguciems” will organize a two-day exhibition of a weave mosaic. This is an interesting way for self-expression which does not require expensive materials and is easily acquired by people of all ages. On the opening day on Saturday, visitors will also have an opportunity to attend a workshop held by professionals and exchange their personal experiences.

None of the age groups will be forgotten during Riga Days. Children and their parents are invited to many kinds of events, such as “Ketes majas” creative workshop, musical performance “Black Cat” and the festival of Big Dolls and Talismans. Finally, to stress that people’s anniversaries are not less important, the concert organization “Ave Sol” will organize an official ceremony to honor married couples who celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. All in all, Rigas Svetki will become a perfect completion to this summer.