The Latvian folk tradition of Metenis, similar to Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is a carnival to farewell the winter and celebrate the coming of a new year of bountiful harvests. Metenis was historically celebrated by huge feasts where people ate and drank as much as they desired. Therefore, it is quite apt that this has been chosen as the day (13th February) for the Riga Craft Beer and Folklore Festival.
Organised by local craft brewery Labietis and held in the former factory premises where the brewery is located, this is the 3rd time such an event has been organised. A number of small breweries from the Baltic countries will be represented, including Malduguns from Latvia, Tanker from Estonia and Dundulis from Lithuania. More exciting for local beer fans will be the participation of microbreweries from outside the Baltics. There will be none of the big corporations that you find at other beer-festivals, pushing there bland lagers with massive marketing budgets. Instead you’ll find unique ales ranging from the standard IPAs and Pale Ales, through to beers brewed with herbs and fruit. Best of all, you’ll have a chance to chat to the brewers themselves, often found behind their stalls, or wandering around sampling the competition’s products.
Of course, any Metenis is not complete without Ķekatas, the tradition of dressing up, wearing masks and going to visit the neighbours. Fires will be lit, 3 folk ensembles will provide a festive soundtrack and local foods will be on offer to warm you up and help you celebrate long into the night as you try to sample every beer on offer. Indeed it is believed that the longer you celebrate, the better the coming harvest will be. So do your bit for Latvia, and party all night long!