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PHOTO: Latvia’s Song and Dance Celebration’s opening procession in Riga

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Sunday, 1 July, a procession was held in Riga to officially open the XXVI Latvia’s Song and Dance Celebration.

This year’s opening ceremony took place with probably the coldest weather since 1977. Nevertheless, this was not a problem for participants of this procession. Inga Vasiļjeva, public relations manager for the celebration, said bad weather was no obstacle for choir and dance collectives to participate in the festive opening.

Vasiļjeva says the number of participants was similar to what was planned prior. Organizers expected more than 43,000 to participate in the procession.

At 14:00 participants started to move from the Freedom Monument along Brīvības Street, and through the honour gates they eventually made their way to Skonto stadium.  The procession lasted more than seven hours.

At the head of the procession were senior leaders, senior conductors and honorary conductors, followed by participants from the county where the Song and Dance Celebration was born – Dikļi – and other regions of Latvia: Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Zemgale, Sēlija, Latgale. The procession also included participants from other countries.

Participants were also greeted by people watching the procession. Some of them were holding Latvia’s flags in their hands.

The festive procession concluded at Skonto stadium with a concert dedicated to participants of the Song and Dance Celebration.

Latvia’s high-ranking officials also greeted participants of the celebration. In his speech, President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis emphasized that Latvia has carried what is most valuable to it through the ages – song, dance and freedom. «People from associations and choirs gathered one day and carried the first Song and Dance procession into the heart of our nation. […] The Song and Dance Celebration is the most beautiful gift to Latvia for its centenary. This gift will gather different generations and strengthen our spirit,» said the president.

He told participants to be strong and unified, and carry Latvia’s flag and wear Latvian outfits with pride. «I wish all of us to feel part of Latvia and be proud to say: ‘I am Latvia!’,» said Vējonis.

Saeima speaker Ināra Mūrniece said that independent Latvia was founded with song and with it the country recovered its freedom. «Song has always held us together. It gave us strength and provided us a path for tomorrow. Song was our shield during the Soviet occupation, when we opposed foreign power. Through song we pass our spiritual heritage to our children and their children. It is clear that song will be with us for all times, as will Latvia,» said Mūrniece.

Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis said the procession would gather 45,000 people that would represent Latvia. «Our pride, love and strength is found here. We can see clearly that we can do a lot more than we think. Let it be that each step made by every participant is one more step towards our future,» he said.

Culture Minister Dace Melbārde wished participants good health and resilience during festivities. «I wish you hearts full of joy and strong backs to carry through! Let us make our songs great and let songs make us great. Let us make the Song Celebration great and let it make us great. Let us make our Latvia great and let it make us great,» said the minister.


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