Independence Day 2017 and 2018
At the Latvian National Theatre (formerly called the Second Riga City Theatre), the country of Latvia gained its independence on November 18, 1918. Now, every year on this date, Independence Day is celebrated throughout the country.
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Today, November 18th is considered a public holiday, with the majority of private enterprises and all state institutions remaining closed while the people of Latvia celebrate the holiday.
This is considered a key date in Latvian history, when after several years of oppression from foreign countries, Latvians took crucial steps to proclaim the independence of their country.
Latvian Independence Day marks the declaration of independence of the Republic of Latvia from Russian and German occupation. This freedom was given on November 18th in 1918, right after the end of the First World War.
The country stayed an independent state until WWII began, which is when the forces of the Soviet Union invaded and occupied the country. This took place on June 17, 1940. Much like all the other Baltic republics, the full independence of the country from Soviet Russia did not occur until August 21, 1991. As a result, there is another independence celebration that happens on May 4th each year, which is called the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia.
On November 18, several events are going on throughout the country. In Riga, this day is celebrated with an annual parade in the morning and then locals lay flowers at the Freedom Monument. This is an event the President of Latvia takes part in, as well as other prominent government officials.
In the afternoon, the National Armed Forces holds a parade that takes place at the 11th November Embankment. During the evening in Latvia, once the sun goes down, there are several torchlight processions, and the celebration in the capital city of Riga ends with a spectacular fireworks display over the River Daugava.
Another notable happening this day is the fact that all public transportation in Riga is provided at no charge to locals and visitors.
If you live in or plan to visit Latvia on November 18th or May 4th, you need to have everything you want and need with you. Since both these dates are considered public holidays, all government institutions, schools, and most private retail stores and other locations remain closed.
Also, most of the locals attend the parade and speech given by the President at the Freedom Monument and spend time celebrating the country where they live. You can expect the festivities to last throughout the day, with many of the buildings and homes displaying the country’s flag proudly. There are typically large community feasts until the firework show begins.
The streets are very busy with locals and visitors coming and going to various celebrations. If you need to get around, you can take the bus or another source of public transportation at no charge on this day only. Much like Independence Day in the United States, and in other countries around the world, the day in Latvia is marked with quite a bit of celebration in the form of parades, feasts, and fireworks.