Rīga 2014 opening events
Friday 17 January
Amber Through the Ages exposition
17 January – 31 December 2014, Museum of Natural History
This Museum of Natural History exposition will be the first stop along the Amber Road, a European Capital of Culture museum project. It will throw light on Baltic amber, demonstrating its natural forms, richness of tones and its significance in terms of the world's amber deposits. It was amber which first created awareness of our region in ancient European cultures. The exposition displays natural amber, its application in a wide variety of spheres, the potential of amber thread (an outcome of scientific research) in particular being a highlight.
Exhibition opening at 15:00 on Thursday 16 January (invitation only)
Opening Ceremony of the European Capital of Culture Year / Richard Wagner’s opus in images: Rienzi. Rise and Fall
19:00, 17 January (invitation only)
19 (premiere), 21 January and 3, 15 June Latvian National Opera
Richard Wagner began composing his third opera Rienzi in Rīga and it was this opera which launched him on the path to world renown. The opera’s and composer’s links to Rīga are also emphasised in this new production and Wagner’s opus launches Rīga's year as European Capital of Culture. The production has been developed by an international creative team and Danish director Kirsten Dehlholm, familiar to Latvian audiences for her multi-media stagings Operation: Orpheus and the Nature of War. The performance will not only feature music from the opera Rienzi but also the electronic music of the young Latvian sound artist Voldemārs Johansons. The Rīga Doms Boys Choir and students of the Rīga Choreography Secondary School will also participate.
Saturday 18 January
All-day events throughout the city – at museums, cafes, exhibitions
Tasting of the Rīga 2014 Programme
08:00 – 17:30, Saturday 18 January
Rīga Central Market and the Rīga International Coach Terminal
Rīga Central Market and its pavilions present a unique event, an opportunity to ‘taste’ all of the 2014 programme. Visit each of the pavilions and the Rīga International Coach Terminal to feel the ambience of each Programme Chapter and, of course, the traditional market offerings.
The Path of Light action – Chain of Book Lovers
Saturday 18 January
The streets of Rīga between the old and new National Library of Latvia buildings
This action of the people, in which books from the old building of the National Library of Latvia are passed from hand to hand to the new building on the other bank of the Daugava river, is one of the 2014 inaugural events. The library's new building is a significant addition to Latvia’s cultural infrastructure. The joining of hands for a common aim – the Baltic Way of 1989 – brought independence. The Chain of Book Lovers is a symbolic joining of hands, attesting to the value system prevailing in Rīga and Latvia. We will join hands for cultural values, their preservation and continuation!
18 January – to 20 April, Arsenāls Exhibition hall
The 1914 exhibition highlights the impact of the First World War on culture, presenting both the works of artists of that period – eyewitnesses – and contemporary interpretations of war by the artists of today. Visitors will not only discover unique photographs and the works of Latvian classical modernism, but also paintings, graphic art and unique examples of sculpture from other countries – Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Hungary – representing their most prestigious art museums and national galleries.
Exhibition opening at 16:00 on Friday 17 January (invitation only)
World Fire Sculpture Championship
12:00 – 18:00, 16, 17 and 18 January (12:00 - 16:00), sculptors work in public
16:30, 18 January, Grand Final – fire sculptures lit sequentially
At the Ķīpsala beach by Vanšu (suspension) bridge
The life of a fire sculpture is short. They are created to experience their most beautiful time while burning, sometimes for as little as ten minutes. The teams of two professional sculptors from 12 countries – USA, Australia, France, Estonia, Russia, Latvia, Great Britain, Lithuania, Finland, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden – will, over three days, build wooden structures up to 6m in height. These will be lit on Saturday – the day of the competition, when the jury will select one as world champion. A fiery musical atmosphere will be provided by Pulsa efekts. Master classes will be held in a special yurt and tepee, where visitors can make candles and get practical knowledge on making fire sculptures. The area will be specially set up with a stage and video screens showing the activities close up, and cafes and stalls will be operating. Everything concludes with a ceremony at which the international jury nominates the fire sculpture world champions and awards the top prize of € 2500. The runners-up will receive € 1500, and third place gets € 1000.
The Parade of Light
18:00, 11.novembra krastmala
A poetic night-time spectacle that will not only illuminate the city, but also the eyes of its audience. The Parade of Light directed by HELMNOT is a mobile night-time spectacle, full of majestic figures illuminating the night. The central attraction is a 7m high and 8m long light ship, lit up in a continuous series of indescribable colours throughout the spectacle.
19:00, Daugava river between the Railway and Vanšu (suspension) bridges
A tale, in sound and light, of nature, mankind and culture. The specially commissioned music of composer Jānis Lūsēns will come to life in the luminous landscapes created by master of pyrotechnics Kalvis Kalniņš and light artist Normunds Bļasāns.
European Capital of Culture Opening Event: Rīga dimd! (Rīga resounds!)
20.30, Saturday 18 January
This concert, featuring the Latvia’s most outstanding classical, world and popular music artists, choirs and orchestras, is a gift from the City of Rīga that is not only for the Latvian public, but will also be broadcast live on TV to our neighbouring countries, Estonia and Lithuania. The concert’s message is a testament to Rīga’s historical and contemporary charm and diversity. Rīga’s visual symbols and signs, which vibrantly relate the city’s story to ourselves and to our visitors. Places, feelings, and the people in whom we have pride. Rīga, sung about and cherished in folk songs and contemporary poetry. With memorable musical compositions from Richard Wagner, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Emīls Dārziņš, Marģeris Zariņš, Imants Kalniņš, Raimonds Pauls, Artūrs Maskats, Ēriks Ešenvalds and Jānis Lūsēns, Rīga in concert address its audience as a contemporary city of culture and the arts.
Sunday 19 January
Christian Boltanski: Heartbeats exhibition
19 January – 20 April, Arsenāls Exhibition Hall
French contemporary art coryphaeus Christian Boltanski arrives in Riga to present his installation Heartbeats which, in its singular fashion, perpetuates the memory of humanity. The artist brings down the boundaries between life and death, between past and present. Heartbeats reminds us that death's frontier is crossed incessantly. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to register their heart rate in the Heartbeat Archive, maintained in Japan. Conceived in cooperation with the Institut français de Lettonie.
Exhibition opening at 12:00 on Sunday 19 January (invitation only)
Exhibition of Kinetic Art: Visionary Structures. From Ioganson to Johansons
19 January to 16 March National Library of Latvia (new building) (dates may change)
The exhibition, organised by the Centre for Contemporary Art, is an excursion into Latvian avant-garde art of the 20th and 21st centuries. It features the works of seven innovative Latvian artists, providing insights into the experimental, even utopian artistic values of their eras. The exhibition is a dialogue between different time periods, revealing the interconnectedness and continuity in the works of art, each of which belongs to a different era and another ideological epoch. Artists represented in the exhibition: Karl Ioganson (1890–1929), Gustavs Klucis (1895–1938), Valdis Celms (1943), Jānis Krievs (1942), Artūrs Riņķis (1942), Gints Gabrāns (1970) and Voldemārs Johansons (1981).
Sigulda 2014 Opening Events
Sigulda Livonian Order Castle, throughout the day
Fifty kilometres from Riga lies one of Latvia’s most picturesque towns, Sigulda, official partner of European Capital of Culture Rīga. Sigulda will present a programme featuring the interaction of culture and sports in creative forms.
On this Sunday, a special train – the Festival Express – will leave Rīga for Sigulda. Throughout their journey, passengers will be entertained by songs, musical performances and other artistic endeavours. Svētku laukums will be home to large-scale works in the snow by British artist Simon Beck. Sigulda launches the European Capital of Culture year with a Walk of Light, large-format installations by French creative company Picto Facto, electronic music in a Concert for Seven Synthesizers, a cooperation between keyboard player Kaspars Tobis and video artist Artis Dzērve, Dzelzs vilks present their latest record Jauno Jāņu orķestris, special activities and the major event in the Sigulda castle complex. The opening event is part of the Nature. City Urban. Future. environmental art festival with which Sigulda announces the new, innovative and interesting events it will be hosting.
The Svētku ekspresis departs from Rīga for Sigulda at 15.00
Throughout the opening weekend, Rīga residents and visitors will be able to enjoy a special edition of the Staro Rīga Festival of Light.
Check out the Opening Event programme and latest news at the www.riga2014.org cultural portal.