Lights on Riga

URBACT

By URBACT, on November 14th, 2014

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Riga, Latvia’s capital, was the European Capital of Culture this year, together with Umea in Sweden. Those particular spotlights are almost about to go out, although they will immediately be replaced by those drawn by the European Council Presidency, which Latvia will take on starting January 2015. But there’s still a month and a half to go for the Capital of Culture programm. Besides, lights are very much needed in Riga in November.

Be it those candles lighted last monday night, November 11th, on the river banks, to celebrate the hundred anniversary of Latvia’s independence, or the lights who surely just went on for the annual Light Festival ‘Staro Riga’  (‘Shine, Riga), starting today – with buidlings all over the city projected with light creations. This year,  habitants are invited to participate to ‘colouring’ the city by displaying light creations or illuminated home-made artworks on their window banks.

For some readers, this invitation might sound very familiar. They may recall the tradition of La Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in Lyon, France – where until 1999, most of  lights emanated from candles placed in yoghurt glasses which children had spent a few afternoons painting, and which decorated window banks, balconies and gardens in Lyon and surrounding cities on December 8th. 1999 was the first year of the current Fête des Lumières, a 4 day festival around December 8th, when light projections on monuments and other light-based pieces of art and urban furniture animate the city.

For many in Lyon, this is one of the city’s very own traditions and events. But Berlin also just recently had the latest edition of its very own Festival of Lights – and perhaps you will also have heard or one or two other european cities where such an event takes place?

There’s probably enough light for everyone. Or is there? This is certainly one of the question facing the institution of the European Capital of Culture, as well as cities working on their cultural influence and towards outward recognition of it.

But one of the Rigaen concepts for their year as Culture Capital is « You and Now », putting the focus on local dialogue and participation rather than outwardly. Illustrating the concept and a  fond memory, the year started with a chain on people passing books to each other to transfer the collection from the old city library to the newly built one on the other side of the river bridge.

The concept and outcomes will be presented this monday at the Connecting Cities Event on Culture Capitals. In Riga, of course.

One Response to “Lights on Riga”

  1. Wow , I am Indonesian and I just heard about latvia , I really wanted to make a time to go there, and hopefully the festival of lights is still there

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