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.
Christmas in Latvia will be a great experience for a short break in the Baltic States.
Along with having multiple markets, Riga is one of the most affordable winter break destinations in Europe with many things to do around the city including in the historic 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.
Riga Christmas Market 2022
Riga Christmas Market dates: 27th November 2022 to 2nd January 2023.
Opening times: 10am to 8pm and until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Christmas 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.
Travel tip: Riga has one of the largest Art Nouveau neighbourhoods in the world. Well worth a visit!
Recommended tour: Riga Culture and Food Tour.
Riga weather in winter: Temperatures average 1°C / -4°C (high / low) in December.
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. Alternatively, search my list of Christmas hotels that cover all destinations.
Riga Christmas Market Specialities
Riga is famous for its artisanal gifts and decorations. You can find hand-carved homewares and 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 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 which is 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.
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 21st December 2022.
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 2023.
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 27th November 2022 to 1st January 2023.
Discover Latvia is the country’s official tourism website where you can find loads of information on travelling to Riga and elsewhere in Latvia.
Location of Doma Laukums in Riga
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, it’s important to keep sustainability in mind.
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.
27th November 2022.
2nd January 2023.
Yes! Riga is an interesting destination all year round but in December you’ll find many unique events including the Christmas markets.
If you visited Riga in December or Christmas 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.