Today, on November 18, Latvia marks its 97th anniversary. Almost a hundred years ago in 1918, the brave actions of Latvian men and women led to the creation of our very own free state. The Proclamation of Independence was a remarkable event, followed by some troublesome years until the Latvian independence could be recognized de iure by the world in January 26, 1921.

Hundreds of thousands of Latvians join the festivities in the patriotic week between two major national holidays - November 18 and November 11, also known as Lāčplēsis Day, when Latvia commemorates its soldiers, particulary the Freedom Fighters who fell during the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920).

On November 11, 1919, the Latvian Army defeated the much larger conscript army of General Bermondt-Avalov, which consisted of better-equipped German and Russian WWI veterans, in the battle for Rīga. This was definitive in gaining independence. The day is annually remembered by lighting candles at the Daugava embankment by the Castle of Rīga. 

But the culmination of the week undoubtedly comes today. The 97th anniversary is honoured by a military parade in Rīga, collective singing of the anthem and popular patriotic songs, as well as fireworks across the country. 

An annual event, the „Staro Rīga” festival of light also takes place in Rīga this week. More than half a million spectators will enjoy the light projections and installations all around the capital city.

From today to November 21, all visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy over one hundred outdoor installations throughout the city centre and Old Rīga. Just as in the previous festivals, exhibits will come in various forms, including (but not limited to) illuminated buildings and multimedia projections in parks, on high-rises and monuments.

This year's event will have four separate programmes with installations from domestic and international artists. The central theme encourages everyone to search for the feeling of cosiness and warmth only one's home can provide. “Home” means something different to everyone and can refer to both the physical abode and something more profound and abstract such as a country or a nation.

“Staro Riga” has been held in Rīga since 2008 and has become a household name among Latvians and foreign visitors both of which flock by the thousands to see the exhibition.

More on "Staro Rīga" here:

Photo: Pēteris Vaivars
Latvian Institute, 18.11.2015, Celebration