Wagner, book printing, solstice celebrations - RĪGA 2014 announces its role as a European Capital of Culture
In 2014 Latvia’s capital city Rīga is a European Capital of Culture. With around 200 cultural projects and events, including operas, exhibitions and festivals, the programme ranges from a major cultural history exhibition on the 500 years of the printed book and a contemporary arts festival to one of the biggest celebrations of the summer solstice in Europe.
The Capital of Culture Year will be opened with broad-ranging festivities from 17 to 19 January. The central event will be a symbolic act by book lovers – a ‘human chain’ of books on 18 January, when books will be transferred, hand to hand, from the old National Library of Latvia building to the new Gaismas pils (Castle of Light) on the other bank of the Daugava river. Registration and a communication campaign for this event will begin in June. In 1989, the people of the Baltic States joined hands along the Baltic Way, symbolising their desire for freedom; this time people will participate in this unifying action to highlight the role and values of culture that unite people from generation to generation.
The opening festivities will also include another key European Capital of Culture event – a multimedia performance of the opera Rienzi by Richard Wagner, who, for a time, worked as a musical director in Rīga. The multimedia staging of the opera, created through collaboration between renowned Danish director and set designer Kirsten Delholm and the Latvian National Opera, will take place on 17 January. Born in Rīga is a series of solo concerts to be presented by world-famous artists born in Latvia. In contrast, July’s World Choir Games will have Rīga’s squares and streets resounding with the voices of 20 000 singers from almost 90 countries. A major exhibition, The Book 1514-2014, will present an insight into the 500-year history of book printing, in the new National Library of Latvia building.
Participation and creative expression are the key themes of Rīga 2014. They also apply to contemporary arts festival Survival Kit, which will provide visitors with opportunities to become involved and participate in a variety of discussions and workshops. Rīga’s creative quarters will come to the fore with their diverse programmes, each reflecting its own unique local charm. The diversity of celebrated Baltic amber will be exposed by the Amber Road winding its way through a number of museums and galleries, with different exhibitions reflecting the significance of amber in terms of culture, history, medicine, new technologies and geology. Concurrently, the Amber Road also symbolises the contemporary cultural exchanges between cities and countries along the ancient amber trade route.
One of the biggest summer solstice celebrations in Europe – on Līgo (Midsummer’s Eve) and the next day, Jāņi – will display how European customs differ, but give the same joy. And in mid-November, Staro Rīga, the largest light festival in northern Europe, will see the city brilliantly illuminated by light festival artists.
During the closing stage of the programme, Rīga will host the European Film Academy Awards on 13 December, bringing together Europe’s best-known directors, actors and media.
Rīga’s 2014 European Capital of Culture programme is called Force Majeure, affirming the positive impact of culture and the ability to swiftly bring positive changes to the city and its residents, at a time when many different forces majeures roam the world.
Each year, the European Commission nominates two countries whose cities compete to become the two European Capitals of Culture. In 2014, the European Capitals of Culture will be Rīga and Umeå in Sweden. A number of joint projects are being developed with Umeå, some involving the Livs and Sami, the two Finno-Ugric peoples living in these cities.
Rīga’s official partner is Sigulda which also participated in the competition with Rīga. Sigulda will be complementing the programme with its own events, listed in the 2014 event calendar.
For more information about Rīga 2014, see the new culture portal www.riga2014.org. Portals www.latvia.travel and www.liveriga.com also provide information about Latvia and capital city Rīga as travel destinations.