Riga in December.
If you visit Riga in December at first it might seem like wrong time of the year to be here- cold and getting dark very early, locals wish to hibernate, but actually city can be very charming in winter too. You just need a pair of beautiful traditional mittens and some warm woolen hats and scarfs and you are ready to explore. As they say: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”.
Experts are predicting that winter 2016/2017 will be cold. So there is chance it will snow in December, there is beautiful snow in Riga already now at the begging of November this year. There should be permanent snow cover from December till March in Latvia but couple of last years there were often change in temperatures and one week there was snow but next everything melted and so on all winter. If there is snow walk around in parks of Riga, they might look like fairy tail and if it is cold enough river Daugava will freeze.
No matter how beautiful it is outdoors at some point you will get cold and there are plenty of interesting indoor activities in Riga. Here are some ideas what to do in Riga in December.
Beer and dance eve every Wednesday at 21:00 in Folkklubs Ala, Peldu street 19. There is nothing that can warm you up like Latvian folk dances! Local experts are eager to tech steps and then a lots of jumping and turning starts. Local youth are dancing, live band is playing and 27 local beers on tap. They serve delicious traditional food too. Can get very busy.
Every Saturday from 10:00-16:00 market at Kalnciema Quarter, Kalnciema street 35. Local crafts, design, fashion, tasty food and drinks from organic farms. Great place to buy Christmas presents. Market is outdoors but glühwein, nearby cafes and restaurant will keep you warm. Kalnciema Quarter wooden buildings is renovated architectural heritage from 19 century.
Christmas Fairs start at the end of November in squares of Riga. Local crafts, hot Riga black balsam, gingerbread houses, Christmas lights and concerts. Market in Esplanāde in Riga central district starts on November 27 and Market in Dome Square starts on November 26. Both of them will run till January 6.
Bluķa vakars in Town Hall Square on December 20. Bluķa vakars is celebration of winter solstice, it is tradition which dates back to pagan believes and are still practiced by folk ensembles. Wooden log is carried around Old Town and then burned with all the sorrow from previous year and it gives all the best to new year. It is ancient ritual to scare away evil spirits and give blessing.
Visit Opera, December is right time for famous ballet The Nutcracker by Peter Tchaikovsky. Latvian National Opera is great place where to enjoy magnificent performances at reasonable prices.
There are several great museums where to learn, explore and get inspiration. For art lovers National Museum of Art at the new permanent display Latvian art. 19th – 20th Century, Art Museum Riga Bourse where is exhibited collection of foreign artwork, Riga Art Nouveau Museum as city is famous for art nouveau architecture (800 buildings) time to explore some interiors too. Spectacular is Riga Motor Museum not only cars there but also photo exhibition „Theme 011” by Gvido Kajons, black and white photography from 1980’s. If you can not choose which mittens to by exhibition “Gloves, Mittens” in National History Museum of Latvia might help.
Last day in December is to celebrate. Official New Years party in the city is happening at 11 November Embankment. Fireworks, cheerful crowd, and even drinking in streets are tolerated which is strictly forbidden on other days during the year.
It is wonderful to watch how it snows through the window, stop for coffee or hot Riga Black Balsam (Riga Black Balsam with hot black currant juice- popular local winter drink) in one of the cozy cafes. For more inspiration check this http://www.eatriga.lv/what-to-do-in-riga/