Culture minister wants more song festival tickets

Organizers of the 2008 Latvian Song and Dance Festival this summer in Rīga must guarantee that more concert tickets will be available, the Ministry of Culture has announced.

Culture Minister Helēna Demakova, in a March 17 meeting with Song and Dance Celebration Office head Romāns Vanags, said organizers must consider how to add seating—including changing stage design and organization.

Doing so could add up to 4,000 more tickets to the July 5 opening concert and another 4,000 to the July 12 closing concert, Vanags told Demakova, according to a Ministry of Culture press release. An additional 1,000 tickets could be made available to each of the July 10 and 11 grand folk dance performances.

The additional tickets could go on sale in May.

Tickets all but sold out March 10—the first day they went on sale at Biļešu Paradīze box offices—to the popular opening and closing concerts at the Mežaparks open-air stage. Tickets also became scarce for the grand folk dance performances.

Rumors surfaced quickly of scalpers buying up large blocs of tickets. But according to the Ministry of Culture, the majority of sales to the most popular concerts were in small groups of less than 10 tickets.

Demakova, according to the press release, wanted to know why ticket sales were not limited. To do so, Vanags replied, would have discriminated against people who live far away from regional box offices and who often send one person to buy tickets for a number of persons.

When additional tickets become available, Demakova added, residents of Liepāja should be given an advantage. Because of technical problems at Biļešu Paradīze box offices, many in the area could not buy tickets on March 10.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

7 thoughts on “Culture minister wants more song festival tickets

  1. My husband and I have been planning on attending the Song Festival for over a year. We have purchased plane tickets, made hotel reservations only to have the tickets sold out before we awoke on the first morning they were to be available. As we live in the States, is there going to be anyway tickets will become available on line? From this article, it seems not. We are very disappointed!

  2. I am bringing a party of 8 from Australia to Latvia for the song celebration. We are all keen musicians and plan to attend a large number of the ticketed events during the celebration. We booked our air tickets and accommodation 14 months ago. I tried unsuccessfully for hours on 10 March to access the ticket people by website and phone. We have been publicising Latvia and its wonderful culture in talks to many groups of people. Now we will have to tell them the terrible truth about the 2008 festival. We sincerely hope something can be done to restore some order and credibility to Latvia and its people, and give honest people a chance to enjoy the song celebration.

  3. My aunt and I were planning to celebrate her 90th birthday at the song festival. We are SO disappointed that tickets were sold out so fast. She’ll not make this trip again. We are both so crushed and defeated.

  4. I am an Australian who started planning this trip to the song festival 5 years ago. What a wonderful celebration of Latvian culture. The plane and accommodation have been booked and paid for. What can be done to help us?

  5. I’m from the Netherlands and i thought scalping tickets was common practice only at pop-concerts where those tickets are sold on the black market for about 10x the original price, but now they are starting with cultural events too. A bloody shame and I feel very sorry for Maija Veide and her aunt. If the festival-organisers read this it would be very generous of them to make a special arrangement for these two ladies!

  6. We were greatly looking foreword to visiting Riga again plus the Song & Dance Festival. We purchased airline tickets to only find out that no tickets were availabe on the Internet right after the box-office opened. Ticket hackers must have close connections to the ticket agency since it would have been impossible to sell all the tickets [in small units] in such short period of time as each transaction takes time. It is obvious to me, Lativan officials do not care whether or not Latvians living abroad bring in foreign currency, nor need our moral or politcal support. We have been forced to change our plans of several years and will vacation instead in France and Russia. I am quite sure our disappointment will last for some time!

  7. Like many other Latvian Americans in the United States my family was looking forward to Dziesmas Svetki in Riga. Thirteen family members from Colorado have airline tickets purchased, accomadations reserved, and a family member in Valmiera that was at the ticket office on March 10 to purchase tickets for us–to no avail! We are all hopeful that the Cultural Minister will INDEED make more tickets available!

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