We interviewed Lelde Benke, Tourism Marketing Specialist for the Latvian Tourism Development Agency and asked her some of our favorite festival related questions. Lelde has worked for the Latvian tourist board for just over a year and a half, and takes care of international media inquiries, press and blogger trips among other things. Though based in Riga, she is often out of the office at trade fairs, road shows and other events to promote Latvian tourism, exchange experiences and generate fresh ideas. In her free time Lelde blogs about life in Riga.
A1) Well, if I really must mention one festival then it would be the Staro Riga Festival of light because Paul Dow (Travmonkey) will really make it come to life on video. The festival is the perfect excuse for treating yourself to a cheeky city break in winter.
A2) Many festivals in Latvia cater to multigenerational audiences. For example, the town fairs that take place throughout Latvia from May to August, like the one in Cesis visited by Flora Baker (Flora the Explorer) this year. During the day there’s family friendly performances, games and activities for kids, and an arts & crafts market. A great occasion to see people showing off their traditional folk costumes – something you don’t see all too often in this day and age.
Positivus, the largest music festival in the Baltics is perfect for people of all ages thanks to the varied line up and beautiful location in a pine forest next to the Baltic Sea, as well as the activity programme. You can do morning yoga classes or chill out in the cinema tent! I watched Kraftwerk perform a couple of years ago together with my 60-year-old dad! You’ve also got smaller scale music events like the Early Music Festival at Rundale Palace and the Sigulda Blues Festival.
Homo Novus International Festival of Contemporary Theatre that takes place every two years in unconventional venues across Riga, like former factories and outer suburbs. One of the aims of the festival is to build relationships between artists and audiences so at least a few shows in each programme are interactive. It brings together both local and international artists.
At Ezera Skaņas (Lake Sounds), a floating music festival in Northern Latvia, two girls in our group were so touched by the music that they didn’t return to shore until about 3 hours after everyone else had docked their boats. Waking up at 4 am and the epic performance at sunrise had completely disoriented them, and they’d spent a blissful few hours floating around the lake looking for the right docks. Mind you they were really thirsty and hungry when they finally found us!
Anything music-related in Northern destinations like Iceland, Greenland or the Faroe Islands. I’m sure I’ve not even heard of some of the most interesting festivals up there but I absolutely loved Iceland Airwaves and would go to events like Sonar and Secret Solstice in a heartbeat.
For more stories related to Latvian festivals please read about the Cesis Town Festival here.
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