Winter in Latvia might not be what you expect. Sure, one day Latvia might have bitterly cold Baltic winds but the next might be a cool, calm day with blue skies. Don’t be surprised if you experience both in the same day. The weather can be all over the place but one constant is the wonderful people who make Latvia a joy to visit. One of the best places to meet the locals is at the Latvia Christmas markets.
Latvia Christmas Markets 2021
Like elsewhere in Europe, Christmas in Latvia is predominantly a family affair. However, celebrations are less focused on Christmas Day and more around the Winter Solstice. It’s common for people to decorate their homes with natural decorations in addition to having a decorated natural tree.
The family celebration revolves around food and a Christmas feast of traditional dishes but increasingly often, dishes with modern or international twists.
Latvians are encouraged to buy presents for family and friends at the Christmas market and this is something you can do as a visitor. You’ll find handmade ornaments, toys and homewares as well as many unique artisan gifts.
In Latvia, presents are usually opened on Christmas Eve so if you’re in Latvia on the 24th December, you could take part in this celebration too.
Riga Christmas Market
The main Riga Christmas market is on Doma Laukums, the main square, while the other is not far away on Livu Laukums. There is even another smaller Christmas market on Esplanade Park in front of the Orthodox Cathedral.
On Saturdays there is also a Christmas Fair in the Kalnciems Quarter, located on the other side of the Daugava River. Here you will find goods from Latvian farmers, artisans, and designers as well as music and Latvian or Baltic region plants. This market actually takes place year round but has a Christmas feel in December. This district is worth visiting not only for the market but also for Latvian cultural events and the unique timber architecture.
Read our full guide to Riga Christmas market to find the latest information including dates, opening times, locations and the specialties and themes of each neighbourhood market. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, these hotels near Riga Christmas market are conveniently located and well-reviewed.
Riga Christmas Market dates: 30th November 2021 to 8th January 2022 (unconfirmed, please check back).
Opening times: 10am to 8pm every day.
Location: Doma Laukums (Town Square), Livu Laukums and Esplanade Park.
Reason to visit: Great value for money and interesting Latvian traditions.
Specialties: Grey peas and bacon and hand carved kitchen utensils.
Christmas Markets in Latvia
Christmas in Latvia doesn’t have to mean Riga. Although not well known to visitors, there are many smaller cities which are well worth visiting. Not everywhere has a Christmas market but all have some kind of Christmas or winter solstice celebration.
- Daugavpils – The Daugavpils Christmas market is located on Rigas Street and you’ll find many beautiful lights and decorations around the streets and parks. Daugavpils is Latvia’s second largest city, located in south-eastern Lativa close to both the Lithuanian and Belarusian borders. It’s very off the beaten path for most tourists but it’s an interesting place to visit and worthwhile heading through here if you’re later going to visit Vilnius or Kaunas in Lithuania after your time in Latvia. Belarus is a bit more difficult to visit but well worth it if you can get a visa or visa-free entry. Historically, Daugavpils has been part of Poland and later the Russian Empire and it retains cultural influences from these periods. Today Daugavpils is predominantly ethnic Russian. The city is filled with beautiful East Orthodox religious buildings, Art Nouveau architecture and celebrated red brick buildings.
- Liepaja – As the third largest city in Latvia, with an enviable coastal location, Liepāja is very popular with local tourists. It’s quite far from Riga but it’s a great place to stop if you’re travelling towards the coastal city of Klaipeda in Lithuania. Not surprisingly, Liepaja is well-known for its Art Nouveau architecture as this is a feature of most Latvian cities.
- Jelgava – Close by Riga, Jelgava is notable for its palaces, parks, historic churches and wild horses. Jelgava is also the location of the largest winter event in the Baltic States, the International Ice Sculpture Festival. Jelgava is a great place to experience Christmas in Lativa.
If you’re looking to extend your winter holiday or are simply curious, our guide to the best Christmas markets in Europe is full of ideas on where to go this winter.
It is still unsure if the Latvia Christmas markets will take place in 2021. Please check entry and health requirements and potential restrictions before you travel. The Christmas markets in Latvia mostly take place in Riga but you will find many worthwhile destinations throughout the entire country.