Riga is the ideal place to find Christmas cheer in December. The Latvian capital offers its residents and guests many different events and things to do before and during the Christmas holidays.
Already at the end of November, the annual Christmas Market will be open on Dome Square in Old Town Riga. The Christmas Market will work until January 9, which is right after Orthodox Christmas. Gingerbread cookies, hot winter wine, smoked meats, pastries and sweets will all be available at the Christmas Market. People will also be able to buy traditional Latvian Christmas gifts for their loved ones at the market – toys for children, knitwear, and wood items carved by local craftsmen. Various Christmas concerts will also be held at Dome Square over the holidays. Events will also be held, where people can try and taste the various types of traditional Latvian food served during the holidays in the country’s regions.
Since Riga will also be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the first Christmas tree, Santa Claus himself will arrive in the Latvian capital from Lapland to light the city’s main Christmas tree on November 28. According to legend, the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree began in Riga in 1510.
The Ethnographic Open Air Museum on the outskirts of Riga will also be organizing several Christmas events. On December 19, the museum will be organizing a Christmas Market, where local folklore groups will perform and people will be able to see the museum’s exhibits beautifully lit at night.
On the other hand, during Latvian winter solstice festivities on December 21, there will be several events taking place in the city, like traditional log rolling, bon fires and much singing and dancing. Going on the ‘Kekatas’ winter solstice masquerade is another well-known tradition in Latvia that will be taking place on the day. During ‘Kekatas’, people dress in masks and costumes and go home to home in a merry song and dance to ward off evil spirits and bring good will to the home they visit.
There will also be many concerts taking place in venues all over the city in December, as well as special Christmas concerts as well. On December 25 and 26, the Kipsala Exhibition Center will host a two-day Christmas concert, which will feature many of Latvia’s best known musicians and conductors performing the best known Latvian and foreign Christmas melodies.