Latvian Song and Dance Festival

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Choirs performing in Mežaparks Song Festival venue during 24th Latvian Song Festival in 2008.

The Latvian Song and Dance Festival (Latvian Vispārējie latviešu Dziesmu un Deju svētki) is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world and an important event in Latvian culture and social life. It is also a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The All-Latvian Song and Dance Festival has been held since 1873, normally every five years. During the festivals exhibitions of photography, art and folk craft, orchestra concerts, and a festive parade also take place. Events and competitions leading up to the event occur throughout the period between festivals.

Approximately 30,000 performers altogether participate in the event.[1] Although usually folksongs and classical choir songs are sung, with emphasis on a cappella singing, recently modern popular songs have been incorporated into the repertoire.


The tradition of song festivals originated in the first half of the 19th century in many European countries and later was also organized by the Baltic Germans. The first steps taken in Latvian environment was during the song days in Dikļi in 1864, which led to the resounding of a full-scale Song Festival in Riga during the summer of 1873. 1003 singers and 30 orchestra players participated in the first festival. Only once festival was held outside Riga- in Jelgava in 1895.

During the Soviet invasion and annexation of Latvia in 1940, festivals were continuing in the Latvian SSR, which were celebrating the Soviet Union (to allow its continuous existence). During the occupation the festival tradition was continued in exile, first in Displaced Persons camps after World War II, primarily in the western zones in Germany, then in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The abroad Song and Dance Festival is currently held every four years, alternating between the United States and Canada.

Since 1960 a distinct Latvian Youth Song and Dance Festival is held in an alternate five year cycle, on a matching scale. The last event took place in July 2010.[2]

The 24th Festival was held in July 2008. The main events were held in the Grand Stage of Mežaparks and in the Daugava Stadium in Riga.

The 25th Festival took place in July 2013.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 23rd All Latvian Song Festival retrieved on 7 March 2007
  2. ^ 10th Latvian Youth Song and Dance Celebration in Riga retrieved on June 28, 2011
  3. ^ XXV Nationwide Latvian Song and XV Dance Celebration Website retrieved on July 6, 2013

External links[edit]