Theatre, Dance and Opera are well-established in Riga. Theatre dates back to the 13th century and today the city continues to explore this art in six main theatres. Riga’s ballet school was third in importance after the Kirov and Bolshoi, guaranteeing world-class performances at a number of venues throughout the city and beyond.
The Latvian National Opera, The Latvia Philharmonic Orchestra, several large concert halls, the many art galleries, and an emerging film industry further enhance and represent cultural life in Riga. There are more than 40 different museums in Riga, including the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, Latvian Museum of Nature, State Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Decorative Applied Arts, and the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia.
Music and Arts
An important role in the cultural life of Riga is assigned to amateur groups and artists. Today there are around 303 amateur performing and arts groups, 84 choirs, 43 folk dance groups, 5 brass bands, 30 arts and crafts studios, 14 amateur drama groups, 14 instrumental ensembles, 5 photography and film studios with a total number of 8,500 participants.
Riga is also rightly proud of its well preserved authentic folklore and craftsmanship traditions as well as the rapidly d eveloping avant-garde and modern art movement.
Every year Riga hosts large international cultural festivals, the largest of which is the National Song and Folk dance festival that is held every 4 years and assembles about 30,000 participants, attracting visitors from around the world.
Old Riga with its labyrinth of cobble-stoned streets is a real life open-air museum containing more than 150 architectural monuments. In December 1997 the Historic Centre of Riga was included in the prestigious World Heritage List. The World Heritage Committee declared its medieval and later urban fabric of outstanding universal value by virtue of the quality and quantity of its Art Nouveau/Jugenstill architecture, unparalleled elsewhere in the world, and its 19th century architecture in wood.
The inclusion of the Historic Centre of Riga in the UNESCO World Heritage List is testament to its universal value as a preserved element important to the understanding of mankind. 2001 marked the 800th anniversary of Riga City, and the occasion was commemorated by visits to newly restored buildings, and extensive open-air festivals, introducing a new period of enrichment to the city’s modern culture.