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Ten Top Autumn Events in The Baltic States

Ten Top Autumn Events in The Baltic States

Picture of Eleanor Cunningham
Updated: 9 February 2017
The Baltic states hold a vibrant and rich history, with each region exuding a distinct cultural identity. The capital cities of these states – Tallinn, Rĭga and Vilnius – attract thousands of visitors for their cultural districts and their stunning architecture of Baroque and Art Nouveau. Discover ten of the best events taking place this Autumn and Winter in these thriving cultural hubs.

Homo Novus – International Festival of Contemporary Theatre

Riga: 2 – 8 September 2013

The International Festival of Contemporary Theatre ‘Homo Novus 2013’ has become the leading international festival of contemporary performing art in Latvia and one of the most important in the Baltic states. Taking place every two years since 1995 in Riga, this event gathers artists from different countries, cultures and practice. The festival programme offers a collection of new performances of Latvian artists, and on-tour performances of the leading European directors and works of art. The festival covers a wide territory of the city, holding performances in forests, apartments, cabbage-patches, and in live and long forgotten places in the city centre and the outskirts. The programme of the 10th edition of Homo Novus will showcase 11 unique productions by Latvian artists inspired by Alan Read’s concept of ‘theatre as the last human venue’, a programme section reflecting upon the relationship of the city and nature.

Survival Kit 5 – International Contemporary Arts Festival

Riga: 5 – 15 September 2013

Survival Kit was founded in 2009 as a reaction to changes after the economic crisis in Latvia. Although this contemporary arts festival is quite a new art initiative, its aim is to grow and develop into becoming the Riga Art Biennale in 2014, when Riga will be the European Capital of Culture. This year, several artists will reflect upon different strategies in order to change current systems and to create an alternative. The figures involved include The Yes Men from USA, Johanna Billing from Sweden, Minna L. Henriksson from Finland, Gabriel Lester from The Netherlands, Harun Farocki from Germany, Matthieu Laurette from France, Oliver Ressler from Austria, Ane Hjort Guttu from Norway, Erik Alalooga (Postinstrumentum) from Estonia, and Sasha Kurmaz from Ukraine. Survival Kit is organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) and curated by Solvita Krese, the director of LCCA.

Festival of Contemporary Art – ART IST KUKU NU UT

Tartu: 6 September – 18 November 2013

With ‘ART IST KUKU NU UT’ translating into an amiable ‘Artists Are All Cuckoo’ in English, this Festival of Contemporary Art refuses to be unduly serious and, above all, is very open to interpretation. Taking place in the university and student city of Tartu, the festival is organised by Kaisa Eiche, Rael Artel and Kristina Paju. A unifying theme is purposely not chosen, so as to avoid the resulting bounds and restrictions often found in many other art festivals or exhibitions. However, some central goals have been stated, the main one being to introduce guests of the festival to the classics of contemporary art. These are a daily part of life in large metropolises and this festival hopes to make contemporary art a larger part of life in the Baltic states.

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Tallinn: 15 November – 1 December 2013

For two weeks Estonia’s capital brings together film industry professionals and film stars at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. The main players in the Asian and American independent film industry – producers, investors, festivals and key organisations representatives – meet annually to support the cooperation between Asia and America, Estonia and North-Eastern Europe. Also known as PÖFF, the festival is one of the largest and most distinctive film events in the Northern European area. Embracing a cluster of events and accommodating two sub-festivals (Animated Dreams and Just Films), the festival includes a traditional film festival programme with documentaries and feature films as well as a programme for short, independent movies.

VIII Design Night Festival

Tallinn: 26 – 29 September 2013

The VIII Design Festival includes references to the Year of Cultural Heritage in Estonia, featuring numerous exhibitions and competitions to establish a connection with the heritage of the past, highlighting techniques and materials which are unique to the Baltic state. As an example of sustainable design, a selection of the best Finnish design will be displayed at the exhibition Sustainable Beauty – Design from Finland, and for the first time in the history of the festival, an exhibition of Swedish design will be shown. In addition to this, Estonian product design will be introduced at a material-based exhibition Mateeria. Graphic designers will also compete against each other for the Graphic and Web Design Awards being held during the festival. The programme also includes inventing workshops for children, while the food design workshop ‘Grandma’s Design Competition’ invites all grandmothers to bake cakes, introducing the cake recipes of grandmothers from across Europe.

Sirenos – The International Vilnius Theatre Festival

Vilnius: 26 September – 6 October 2013

First established in 2004, the annual International Vilnius Theatre Festival has introduced the most famous and exciting European theatre artists, who actively respond to the ever-changing reality of contemporary theatre. Following the same theme throughout its existence, the festival has presented a new generation of European directors, who reached their artistic maturity after the fall of the Berlin wall and thus have become a bridge between two different worlds. This year will see Sirenos present a concise view of the most recent developments of Lithuanian theatre, transcending the definitions of genre, generation or aesthetics and supports the relationships between theatre and culture.

Vilnius Jazz Festival

Vilnius: 10 – 13 October 2013

Founded in 1987, the Vilnius Jazz festival is the oldest annual jazz festival held in Vilnius, providing a broad perspective on contemporary trends in jazz from all over the world. The stylistic boundaries of jazz and free improvised music are often crossed and expanded here by offering joint projects with musicians from the academic, ethnic, rock and industrial music backgrounds. The festival is renowned for its creative and ambitious programmes featuring some of the biggest names in the international jazz scene alongside the best of Lithuanian talent. Vilnius Jazz is also inextricably linked with the development of a distinctive Vilnius jazz school. Recognised as one of the most important signposts in Eastern Europe, Vilnius Jazz remains devoted to promoting the living tradition of improvised music in Lithuania.

Golden Mask Theatre festival

Tallinn: 14 – 24 October 2013

The Golden Mask is a National Theatre Award which was founded in 1994 by the Theatre Union of Russia and is presented to productions in all genres of theatre art: drama, opera, ballet, operetta, musical and puppetry. The Golden Mask is also an All-Russian Theatre Festival that, in the Spring of each year, presents to the most significant performances from all over Russia to Tallinn. Taking place for the first time in Estonia in 2005, this became the first foreign project and has become the most important theatrical event of year, uniting the Russian and Estonian public. The festival showcases the best Russian performances from the last season that have been nominated and also the winners of the Golden Mask. The festival’s aim is to promote the cultural relations between the two countries and to establish creative relationships between figures of theatre.

2ANNAS – Riga International Short Film Festival

Riga 21 – 27 October 2013

Riga International Short Film Festival, 2ANNAS, is an independent professional filmmakers’ short film festival taking place in Latvia. Its primary goal is to promote original, innovative and talented works by local and international filmmakers. 2ANNAS is a platform which, in addition to the traditional means of filmmaking, showcases new forms of content and audio-visual artworks. Seeking the development of Baltic films and their trends within the context of the world, the festival successfully creates an appropriate environment for developing new ideas and presents innovative modes of visual communication. Since the first festival in 1996, 2ANNAS has been held annually in Riga.

Staro Rīga Light Festival

Riga: 15 – 18 November 2013

The Festival of light, Staro Rīga (Beaming Riga), is held in the Latvian capital every November as an opportunity for people to see the city transformed into a multimedia art, light and sound installation. These many light installations are set up on various buildings and monuments, playing with the city’s visual environment. Local landmarks like the Latvian National Opera building, Riga Castle, the House of the Blackheads and even the new National Library building will be decorated during the festival. Visitors can appreciate the city’s beautiful architecture from a different perspective at night as the days become shorter and nights become longer. This year, those attending will be able to vote for their favourite festival light installation on the festival website.

By Eleanor Cunningham