Photo by irabel8/Shutterstock
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Dancers in traditional costumes perform at the Latvian National Song and Dance Festival.
Every five years, Latvians gather in the country’s capital to partake in a week-long folk festival centered around song and dance. This year, as Latvia celebrates its 100th birthday, the summer festivities will certainly be worth traveling for.
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It’s not often that Latvia comes up on a list of must-visit summer destinations. But the Baltic country is on that list this year and for good reason: From June 30 through July 8, thousands of festive locals will gather in the country’s capital to sing, dance, and celebrate their heritage during the XXVI Latvian Song and XVI Dance Celebration. The folk festival has been an important occasion in Latvian culture since it was first celebrated in 1873. But as Latvia celebrates 100 years of independence in 2018, the cultural event will be the biggest party in the Baltics.
Every five years since the event was inaugurated, the Latvian Song and Dance Festival has brought thousands of people from across Latvia to the nation’s capital, Riga. Over the course of one week, festival-goers witness choirs, dance ensembles, folk performances, and parades celebrating the country’s cultural heritage. About a thousand choral singers participated in the first event in 1873. This year across Riga, more than 60 live performances will take place in parks, public spaces, and historical venues, by an estimated 40,000 participants from local ensembles. Some performances will comprise approximately 12,000 singers and up to 17,000 dancers. Nearly half a million people (around one quarter of Latvia’s population) are expected to attend the festivities.A vital part of Baltic identity
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