Riga: European Capital of Culture 2014

Each year 2 European cities are selected to be European capitals of culture. For 2014, the 2 cities are Umea in Sweden and Riga in Latvia. We’ve already made a post about Umea in Sweden so now we present you with our highlights for the year 2014 in Latvia’s Riga.

Riga is one of the Baltics’ more popular destinations, a big city with an atmosphere to match, and an old town that is on par with Tallinn’s and Prague’s; the city has a great collection of art-nouveau architecture and a number of inner-city parks, cultural spots, cafe’s and cobbled streets that will make a more than perfect setting for the events that Riga has planned for its year in the limelight.

The most striking aspect of the city is the cute fairy tale old quarter, with steeples and turrets looking down on small shops, boutiques and coffee shops where hot summers days are spent al fresco, watching the people go by. However, despite its charming demeanour, Riga is also home to a burgeoning nightlife, with lively clubs and bars, as well as top-rate restaurants, and amidst the old world charm of the old quarter, Riga has begun to place glass hotels and business centres, which give the city an otherworldly feel – where old meets new and charm clashes with glamour. As is the norm for the host cities of the European Capital Culture, Riga has drawn up an impressive list of attractions for 2014.

Art is, as always, the prevailing theme – with artists from all backgrounds and disciplines taking part. The Ukrainian artist Nikita Kadan, a member of the artistic association R.E.P. (Revolutionary Experimental Place)  is one of the artists taking part in the international contemporary art exhibition with the project “Procedure Room” about police torture, while street artist Dainis Rudens has created a mural on a facade on a small street in the Sarkandaugava neighbourhood – the colours of autumn.  There will be various theatre and ballet performances such as “Three Meetings”, a ballet to be held at the Latvian National Opera and look out for some interesting exhibitions such as the Skan II sound installation – an exhibition of sound art which aims to explore innovative art forms and remind onlookers of Riga’s architectural heritage. The events will take place throughout 2013 with dance workshops, opera, street fairs, live concerts, tours and even a circus. While you’re there, make sure you take a look at the old KGB building, that as well as being an attraction itself will be hosting a variety of exhibitions and installations – you can even take a tour of the KGB cellars.

For more info on Riga and the plan for 2014 take a look here.