The festival „The way through the Christmas trees” will begin in Rātslaukums in Riga, with an exhbition, performance and switching on of the Christmas tree”

On Thursday, 5th December, the 10th landscape object festival “The way through the Christmas trees” will begin with the unveiling of the exhibition “The Story of Riga’s Christmas Tree” in the Town Hall, a performance about the first decorated Christmas tree and the switching on of the Christmas tree in Town Hall Square. The opening ceremony will be attended by management from Riga City Council, Riga’s celebration dance group, festival artists and organisers, and all are invited, especially families with children.

At 16.00 hours all are welcome to attend the opening ceremony of the photo presentation in the Town Hall. This is a retrospective photo exhibition featuring a number of the most interesting and unique landscape objects created by Latvian artists over the past nine years, for the festival “The way through the Christmas trees”.  Throughout the duration of the festival, such exhibitions will be on display at the Eastern, Pārdaugava and Northern Executive Authorities.

At 16.30 hours, one of the festival objects, the Christmas tree in Town Hall Square, will be lit, playing out the legend about the first decorated Christmas tree in Riga.

This year, the organisers of the festival “The way through the Christmas trees” are inviting the public to enter into the Christmas spirit by becoming involved through decorating their homes, offices or other spaces with original, creative materials and ideas under the title “An alternative Christmas tree”.  Send photos of your unique creations by e-mail to eglufestivals@riga.lv The entries will be assessed and prizes awarded for the most interesting ideas.

Although historians are divided in thought about the first known decorated Christmas tree, one of the oldest legends says that the first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga, in 1510.  A description of the old celebration of Fastelaven (mask-day) taking place on Town Hall Square in Riga has been retained in the State Archives in the House of the Blackheads. The intriguing tale served to inspire the establishment of a new tradition 500 years later, in 2010, in the capital city of Latvia – the landscape object festival “The way through the Christmas trees”.

This year the festival celebrates its 10th anniversary and is still currently the only urban art and landscape design festival dedicated to the theme of Christmas in Europe. Since the festival began, over 200 original pieces of art and landscape design have been created. Many of the festival pieces have also been displayed in Latvia’s neighbouring capital cities – Tallinn and Vilnius. The festival has been reported on by the media in other countries such as Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia, recognising it as one of the most unique events worth seeing in Europe. The festival has also been presented retrospectively at photo exhibitions, “The Story of Riga’s Christmas Tree”, in Brussels (Belgium) and Pori (Finland).

This year – in the anniversary year of the festival – most of the landscape objects will be situated in Kronvalda parks. Visitors are invited to use the festival guide between 6th December and 12th January to go on walks, especially in the evening hours when the city lights switch on.

Information about the landscape object festival “The way through the Christmas trees”, a look back at 10 years of the festival, interviews with the artists and festival creators will also be aired on TV3 programme “Sveika Rīga” on 14th December at 10.00 hours, and subsequently on website tvplay.skaties.lv

A specially created map of the way through the Christmas trees will help guide people through the objects on display when the lights are lit, and will be available online at www.eglufestivals.lv or at Tourism Information Centres.

The festival “The way through the Christmas trees” is sponsored by Riga City Council, and organised by Riga City Council’s Department of Education, Culture and Sports in cooperation with the Art Academy of Latvia.