BALTIC TRAVEL

Summer Solstice Celebration

LATVIA

Over the centuries, the summer solstice has strongly associated with feasts and pagan rituals as well as with fertility, growth, and light. The old traditions are still alive and each year thousands of people in the Baltic states are going to the countryside to celebrate the longest day and the shortest night of the year.
Join for festivity and the double celebration – on 21st of June when locals are celebrating the astronomical summer solstice by old traditions and rituals like making wildflower wreaths, decorating homes, making bonfires, singing traditional songs, foretelling the future and looking for the fern flower, and on 23rd of June - when joyful celebrations called “Līgo” with more modern singing is taking the place in Riga on the river bank of Daugava River near President`s Castle.
Discover the beauty of nature, ancient traditions and the true spirit of Latvia.

Tour Highlights:

  • Celebrations according to ancient traditions in the countryside on 21st of June
  • Making wildflower wreaths
  • Foretelling the future
  • Looking for the fern flower
  • Tasting midsummer cheese and enjoying local beer
  • Joyful celebrations on 23rd of June at Riga
  • Songs and dances
  • Riga Sightseeing
  • Jurmala Sightseeing
  • Rundale Sightseeing


DAY 1, 19th of June: RIGA

Arriving in Riga. Transfer to hotel and check-in. Have a free time to rest and in the late afternoon enjoy Riga Old Town walking tour together with other group members.

Enjoy a guided walking tour through Riga Old Town (~2 hrs) by seeing remarkable sites like St.Peter's Church with its famous rooster, St.Jacobs Church, Dom Square and Dom Cathedral, home to one of the world's most valuable historic organs. The Powder Tower and city walls will make you feel the breath of the medieval. The guide will tell you about the oldest stone residential dwellings in Riga, the Three Brothers, the Great and Small Guilds, and the fortification wall of Riga with the Swedish Gate the last surviving gate in the wall. The guide will introduce you to the intriguing story of the Cat House and show you Town Hall Square with the beautiful and elegant Blackheads House. The tour will take visitors to Riga Castle founded in 1330, the Parliament, the Monument of Liberty and fantastic Riga`s Opera House.

Have a free evening for leisure and enjoy the city the variety of restaurants, cafeterias and beer gardens on your own. Have an overnight in Riga.


DAY 2, 20th of June: RIGA – JURMALA – RIGA

Have breakfast at the hotel. Join for a tour to Art Nouveau district or Jurmala Resort Town.

Art Nouveau district walking tour (~2 hrs)
Art Nouveau area - Walk to Art Nouveau district. Riga is like a museum of architecture, covering periods from Gothic to Classicism. But the real treasure of the city is the largest and best-preserved collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. This fact was corroborated by UNESCO in 1997 and now the central section of Riga is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Riga is sometimes called the "capital" of Art Nouveau thanks to the heritage of 800 buildings of Art Nouveau. The exteriors of the Art Nouveau buildings are imaginatively decorative and won`t leave guests incurious or without an opinion.

Continue with a Jurmala seaside resort tour (25 km; ~4h). Jurmala is a famous seaside resort situated only 25 km from Riga. The natural curative features of this place were already well known more than 150 years ago. Nowadays endless golden beaches, Baltic Sea, salubrious air and the unique beauty of pine forests attract tourists. Jurmala is a cozy European town composed of houses plunged into the parks and forests. Here you can come across wooden country houses from the beginning of the 20th century as well as modern cottages. Surrounded by pine trees, the wooden cottages of Jurmala are unique monuments of cultural heritage; in which Classicism, Art Nouveau, National Romanticism, and Functionalism harmoniously co-exist. This place is a must for those who are planning to visit Latvia in spring or summer.

Return by the train back to Riga.
Overnight in hotel in Riga.


DAY 3, 21st of June: RIGA – GAUJA NATIONAL PARK – RIGA

Have breakfast at the hotel.

Visit traditional Herbal Market at Dom Square where not only the traditional items for Midsummer Festival are sold but also local farm products – home smoked meat and fishes, home-made bread, honey from Latvian meadows and a wide choice of sweet delicacies.
The annual Herbal Market offers a vast choice of local crafts from wood, linen, wool, silver, and leather while neighborhood choirs and folk dance ensembles will provide a fun festivity atmosphere.

Have free time on your own. 

In the late afternoon transfer to Gauja National Park which is situated on a picturesque stretch of the Gauja River Valley and is known for the reddish Devonian sandstone which forms rocks and caves on both banks of the river. On the way, the guide will show you Turaida Medieval Castle built in 1214, a sculpture garden dedicated to Latvian folklore - Dainu Hill and the Gutmanis Cave a natural wonder and a place steeped in myths and legends.

On arrival, we will join to locals for the celebration of summer solstice according to ancient traditions with folk songs, dances, and bonfires. 

During the celebration, people are decorating their homes with birch trees, their cars with oak leaves and themselves and even their pets with any kind of wildflowers, ferns, and daisies. Wildflowers picked on the summer solstice and used as decoration and for the wreaths are believed to have healing powers and afterwards are used for healing. While the rowan branches are attached to the door-frame by believing it will keep the evil spirits away.

The first part of the night will be spent by joining to traditional dances around the bonfire and enjoying local summer solstice specialties but the highlight will be the leaping over the bonfire which is a blessing for person`s health and well-being. Those who are in couples can leap holding hands so their partnership will be strong and blessed.

By old traditions, everyone patiently needs to wait for the sunrise. This is the only time of the year when one can see the magical fern flower. No one ever has but this is considered an excuse for couples to sneak away for some alone time in the woods.


At dawn, ladies should wash the face in the morning dew which guarantees the beauty while the men need to run around the crop fields nude to ensure welfare and prosperity.

After midnight around 2 am return to Riga.
 


DAY 4, 22nd of June: RIGA

Have breakfast at the hotel.

Visiting Riga Central Market (1,5hrs walking) – one of Europe's largest markets covering 72 000m2, built from five zeppelin hangers left over from the First World War. Since beginning Riga Central Market was built with 24 freezers, many elevators, and laboratories.
Feel the midsummer time atmosphere in the market with colorful wildflowers and oak leave garlands and wreaths, homemade yellow midsummer caraway cheese, which symbolizes the Sun, and folk songs with the catchy "Līgo!" as the main word. Taste some of the Latvian beer types: hemp beer, honey beer or any of traditional ones.

Have an afternoon to rest and discover the charm of the city on tour own. Overnight in Riga.


DAY 5, 23rd of June: RIGA – RUNDALE – RIGA

Have breakfast at the hotel.

Rundale Palace & Garden (~5hrs, walking & vehicle)
Rundale is one of the most visited sights in Latvia. Once the summer residence of the Duke of Courland Ernst Johann Biron is one of the most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rococo art in Latvia. Built from 1736 to 1740 the palace was designed by outstanding Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the creator of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. The splendid interior of the palace dazzled contemporaries. Crystal chandeliers, silk wallpaper, sculptures, luxuriously tiled fireplaces, mirrors, elegant galleries, and refined colors and fresco were made by Italian artists Francesco Martini and Carlo Zucci.

The selection of plants for the Rundale Palace Garden is based on information obtained from 18th-century garden descriptions and books on Baroque gardens. The park of Rundale Palace is an essential part of the palace complex; it has retained its original layout without any significant changes. The garden was created between 1736 and 1740, at the same time as the palace was constructed. The park was not affected by modernization in the 19th century when formal gardens were transformed into landscape gardens. Cartography and inventory carried out in 1974 revealed that in the 19th-century trees in the park were still planted according to Rastrelli’s design.

Return to Riga in the afternoon. Join for the Midsummer celebrations or so-called Līgo Festival in Riga city on the river bank of Daugava River nearby the President`s Castle. Celebrations with modern folk ballads and dances will take place until the first sunrise.

Overnight in Riga


DAY 6, 24th of June: RIGA

Have breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport or continue with tour extension to another Baltic country.

 

Package price per person, if minimum 2 people:
In centrally located 3* hotel: from 922.00 € per person (on twin sharing bases)
In centrally located 3* hotel: from 1060.00 € per person (on a single basis)

In centrally located 4* hotel: from 971.00 € per person (on twin sharing bases)
In centrally located 4* hotel: from 1146.00 € per person (on a single basis) 



Price includes the following services:
Arrival and departure transfers in Riga;
All transfers as noted per program;
5 nights stay in Riga in centrally located 4* hotel with breakfast on twin sharing basis;
Services of English speaking local guide for sightseeing tours;
Services of English speaking local guide for summer solstice celebrations as per program;
Entrance fee at Rundale Palace & Garden;
Local beer tasting at Central Market;
Traditional snacks during the night of 21st of June;
All applicable taxes and service tax;
Assistance 24/7 during travel

Our package does not include the following services:
Any expenses of personal nature - telephone calls, laundry, mini bar, tips etc.
Any airline tickets;
Travel insurance;
Costs incurred in case of hospitalization or evacuation etc.
Tips and porter charges;
Any other services not specified above


Payment terms and conditions:
15% upon reservation (10% and bank fees are non-refundable)
85% 30 days before arrival

Cancellation rules:
Till 30 days before arrival 10% non-refundable
29-16 days before arrival 50% non-refundable
Less than 15 days before arrival - 100% non-refundable

 

Please feel free to request tailored post or pre-tours to other Baltic countries.
**Prices might increase if there is a special event (large scale conference, a concert of world-famous superstar etc.) in any of the destinations and majority of hotels are booked out.