Latvians drop masks and get merry
With the summer sun bronzing pale Baltic skins, August is a time for shedding worries and hanging loose. And with the pandemic beating a retreat from our shores, fun and creativity are ripening like the tomatoes in our beloved greenhouses. Festivals are flourishing, hidden gems are drawing global attention and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to make dreams come true. Grab those rays while they’re hot!
A glance at mask-free Riga folks enjoying summer shows how normal most of life has become in Latvia. And with one of the world’s lowest rates of Covid infection, on 3 August Minister of Health Ilze Viņķele announced that the remaining rules will be loosened. Bars will be allowed to stay open later, major gatherings can take place if enough space is provided, and if there is no deterioration in the situation, the nation’s youngsters will be back to school in September.
Kuldīga in Western Latvia is famous for its Baroque town square, wooden houses and canals and boasts Europe’s widest waterfall. It’s easy to fall in love with the place, and it appears to have worked its magic on President Egils Levits too. Visiting on 28 July, Levits formally backed its bid for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Riga’s people love a celebration, and nothing will stop them from enjoying the annual city festival on the weekend of 14-16 August. Of course, being responsible is vital, and this year’s event will be a little more low-key and people will be encouraged to explore different parts of the city. The festival programme is also available in English.
Even before the Covid emergency, Latvians were keen to get down to business far from the office. A plethora of wifi hotspots and cheap unlimited plans have made them the world’s most energetic mobile internet users and produced a slew of innovative startups.
It's nice when winners give a hand to talented-up and-comers. The brains behind of some of Latvia’s most dynamic firms gathered recently at Founder Marathon: The Untold Stories of Building a Startup to reveal how they got started and overcame their biggest challenges.
With the global upheavals caused by the Covid crisis, many people have felt like the world is coming to an end in 2020. The biennial contemporary art festival RIBOCA2 taps into these feelings, presenting works that explore how we can build a new world with room for different voices and relationships. It will run from August 20 to 13 September in Riga’s historic Andrejosta docks neighbourhood.
Just 26 years old, animator Gints Zilbalodis takes low-budget movie making to a new level. The 26-year-old’s most recent effort “Away” was done entirely by himself in his apartment and won a string of international awards for its innovative techniques and novel aesthetic. In a podcast, journalist Mike Collier interviews the dynamic young director.