For a small city, Riga is busy with Christmas markets and celebrations throughout December. The main Riga Christmas market is on Doma Laukums, the historic 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 that is worth visiting.
In this guide, I share the confirmed dates, locations and local specialties for Christmas 2023.
If you’re looking for a festive short break in the Baltic States, Christmas in Riga offers a unique and memorable experience with its charming markets, lively atmosphere, and beautiful decorations.
Along with multiple Christmas markets, Riga is one of Europe’s most affordable winter break destinations, with many things to do around the city, including in the incredible Art Nouveau neighbourhood.
While Riga might not be one of the first destinations that come to mind when thinking about Christmas, it’s worth noting that Riga is believed to be the first city in the world to put up a decorated Christmas tree back in 1510.
So Riga definitely has the Christmas spirit and seasonal traditions, and its Christmas markets are growing in popularity.
Riga Christmas Market 2023
As you wander through the bustling Christmas markets in Riga, you’ll be enchanted by the twinkling lights and cheerful atmosphere that surrounds you.
The scent of mulled wine and traditional Latvian foods will tantalise your senses as you explore the many stalls selling handmade gifts and crafts.
Be sure to take a ride on the charming carousel or ice skate on the outdoor rink while listening to live music.
You’ll also want to snap a photo in front of the enormous Christmas tree, which stands tall and proud in the centre of the market.
Dates and Location
Riga Christmas Market dates: 3rd December 2023 to 8th January 2024.
Location: Doma Laukums (Town Square), Livu Laukums and Esplanade Park.
Monday to Thursday: 11am to 9pm.
Friday and Saturday: 10am to 10pm.
Sunday: 10am to 8pm.
Christmas Eve: 10am to 6pm.
Christmas Day: Open.
New Year’s Eve: 10am to 2am.
Ice skating: Yes, but not at the Christmas markets.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Recommended tour: Riga Culture and Food Tour offers a great mix of food and history and sights.
Reason to visit: Great value for money and interesting Latvian traditions.
Specialties: Grey peas and bacon and hand carved kitchen utensils.
Travel tip: Riga has one of the largest Art Nouveau neighbourhoods in the world. Well worth a visit!
Riga weather in winter: Temperatures average 1°C / -4°C (high / low) in December.
Where to stay: Neiburgs Hotel is only 100 metres from the main square.
Hotels Near Riga Christmas Market
Given that Riga’s old town is relatively small and walkable, many hotels in this area will be suitable for a short stay.
The Neiburgs Hotel is a brilliant choice if you want to be in the centre of the old town but also stay in a stunning Art Nouveau building, the style that Riga is known for.
You can find a list of hotels near Riga Christmas market that I’ve selected based on price, reviews and location.
Read through my recommendations before booking your hotel in Riga.
Location of Riga Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
A city tour of Riga is a wonderful way to discover the city’s unique history and culture. With its picturesque old town, vibrant facades, and impressive architecture, Riga is a city that offers something for everyone.
I highly suggest taking the Riga Culture and Food Tour, where you can explore all the city’s highlights while also discovering the local cuisine and culture.
During a city tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of Riga’s most famous landmarks and attractions, such as the grand Freedom Monument, the striking House of the Blackheads, and the impressive St. Peter’s Church with its stunning views over the city.
Riga Christmas Market Specialities
Riga Christmas Market is famous for its artisanal gifts and decorations. You can find hand-carved homewares, kitchen utensils, hand-knitted scarves, gloves and socks, locally made candles, and Christmas decorations.
The market is less commercial than Christmas markets in Europe’s larger cities, making it more authentic in that respect.
Regarding food specialties, the Riga market uses seasonal produce to make delicious food, including hearty soups, gingerbread and the traditional Latvian dish of grey peas and bacon.
Rye bread is considered an important aspect of Latvian cultural heritage, and you’ll find wonderful examples of this dark bread throughout Riga. You can buy it at the market or in specialty bakeries. Look out for rye bread cake, an extension of this traditional food.
Rowan berries are another local food to look out for during winter in Riga. It’s a unique fruit that those of us outside the region are likely to have never tried before. In Riga, you can get them in dried or powdered form directly from the market, but you’ll also find them in a number of dishes and drinks.
Riga in December
Christmas in Latvia
In Latvia, Christmas is more commonly celebrated as the winter solstice, and events are centred around this. Traditionally, Christmas presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve, so if you’re in Riga at this time, you might want to celebrate in the same way.
The Winter Solstice or Yule Log Eve is celebrated on the shortest day and the longest night of the year. This occurs on the 22nd December 2023.
One of the great things about Riga in December is that the Christmas market opening dates are extended past Christmas Day.
This is unusual in many parts of Europe where the market ends on Christmas Eve. This means you can enjoy the Christmas festivities during New Year’s Eve and into the first week of January 2024.
Latvia is a wonderful country with many interesting places to visit. My guide to the Latvia Christmas markets might help you to plan where to go in Latvia in winter.
Christmas Tree Trail
The Christmas Tree Trail is an arts festival dedicated to the Christmas tree. You’ll find unique, traditional and modern Christmas tree art located around the city from 3rd December 2023 to 8th January 2024.
Discover Latvia is the country’s official website for tourism, where you can find loads of information on travelling to Riga and elsewhere in Latvia.
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important.
Implement some or all of these simple measures to create a positive impact.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Stay in hotels. Short-stay apartment accommodation can lead to a lack of affordable housing for locals.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination.
Riga Christmas Market 2023 dates are confirmed from 3rd December 2023 to 8th January 2024.
The Christmas markets in Riga end on the 8th January 2024.
Yes, Riga is a beautiful and festive destination for Christmas. The city is known for its enchanting Christmas markets, elaborate decorations, and lively atmosphere, making it a perfect place to soak up the holiday spirit. With various events and activities taking place throughout the season, Christmas in Riga is a magical and memorable experience that should not be missed.
If you visited Riga in December or Xmas in Latvia and would like to share your experience, leave a comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Riga, Latvia. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.