Latvians worldwide mark Independence Day

The 87th anniversary of Latvia’s declaration of independence on Nov. 18, 1918, will be marked this week and next in communities worldwide. In Latvia, the largest celebration will be Nov. 18 in the capital city of Rīga, but in some communities commemorations will have occurred several days before or, in many cases, will wait until the weekend.

Here’s a rundown of worldwide events gathered from submissions by community organizers, from reports by Latvians Online staff and from information compiled by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


In Australia, most Independence Day events will occur during the weekend and several will feature a speech by Sandra Kalniete, a former Latvian foreign minister and a former European Commissioner from Latvia who some observers suggest may become the next president of the nation.

In Adelaide, a commemoration is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Adelaide Latvian Cooperative Latvian House “Tālava,” 4 Clark St., Wayville. The following day, Nov. 19, the Latvian flag will be raised in a 9:30 a.m. ceremony in Tālava’s courtyard. The community’s official commemoration is scheduled at 2 p.m. and will feature a speech by Kalniete.

The Brisbane community will mark Independence Day with a program set at 6 p.m. Nov. 22 in Saule Ltd. (Latvian House), 24 Church Court, Buranda. Kalniete is scheduled as the guest speaker.

Two celebrations are planned in Melbourne. At noon on Nov. 19, the Melbourne Latvian School “Daugava” will mark the day with a program in the Melbourne Latvian House, 3 Dickens St., Elwood. At 2 p.m. Nov. 20, Kalniete will speak as part of a broader community celebration, also in the Latvian House. Community members will provide musical performances.

Latvians in Perth will mark the day beginning at 7 a.m. Nov. 18 with raising of the Latvian flag at the Latvian Centre, 60 Clever Terrace, Belmont. At 6 p.m., the flag will be lowered, followed by an Independence Day program in the center.

In Sydney, the Independence Day commemoration is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Sydney Latvian House, 32 Parnell St., Strathfield.


In Montréal, Independence Day will be marked at 4 p.m. Nov. 19 with a dinner program and religious service in the Latvian Center, 3955 Provost, Lachine. Guest speaker will be Atis Sjanītis, Latvia’s ambassador to Canada. Music will be performed by Arnis Miltiņš and Kaspars Zemitis. Adult admission, including dinner, is CAD 20. For students, admission is CAD 10, but for children, itš CAD 5.

In Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, the Embassy of Latvia on Nov. 18 hosts a reception for Canada’s diplomatic corps, government officials and the local Latvian community. The embassy is at 350 Sparks St., Suite 1200, Ottawa. During the reception, work by Latvian and Latvian-Canadian artists will be on display in an exhibit supported by the Klāvs Sīpoliņš Foundation.

The Latvian community in Ottawa also will commemorate Independence Day with a program at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Peace Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church, 83 Main St., Ottawa.

In Toronto, a combined church service for area Latvians is scheduled at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 in St. Andrew’s Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church, 383 Jarvis St.

Toronto also will have the largest Independence Day celebration in Canada. “Diena Latvijai,” a day for Latvia scheduled beginning at 7 a.m. Nov. 18 in the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive, Toronto. The day begins with breakfast in the Umurkumurs club followed by various events, including an art exhibit and a round table discussion. Highlights include a 6 p.m. speech by Juris Audariņš, the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs special ambassador for relations with Latvians abroad. A social evening begins at 9 p.m. and features musicians from Latvia, presentations by pupils from Toronto Latvian schools, and a performance by the folk dance troupe Daugaviņa. For further details, visit


In France, Latvia-born violinist Gidon Kremer and his chamber orchestra Kremerata Baltica perform at 20:00 hours Nov. 18 in the Théâtre du Châtelet, 2 rue Edouard Colonne, Paris. On the program is music by Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks, Lera Auerbach and Nino Rota. Latvia’s Minister of Culture Helēna Demakova is expected in the audience. For further information about the venue, visit The concert is part of the month-long celebration of Latvia throughout France, Étonnante Lettonie. For further information about the festival, visit Kremer and his orchestra also perform Nov. 21 and 24 in the theater.

Latvians in Germany will see the largest observance of Independence Day on Nov. 18 in Bonn as part of a four-day conference, ““Mēs – latvieši pasaulē,” a discussion for and about Latvians living abroad, in Haus Annaberg, Annaberger Str. 400, Bonn. The program, led by Austris Grasis, begins at 7 p.m. Guest speaker is Ainars Latkovskis, Latvia’s special assignments minister for social integration. Musical performers include Liene Sējāne, Kristaps Grasis, Liene Krolle and Ieva Puriņa. Refreshments are scheduled for 20:30 hours, followed by an evening of folk songs and dances led by Austris Grasis and the folk ensemble Ceiruleits from Latvia. The conference runs from Nov. 17-20. For further information, visit

A brief commemoration also is scheduled at 10:30 hours Nov. 18 at the Latvian Center Muenster (Lettisches Centrum Muenster e.V.), Salzmannstrasse 152, 48159 Muenster.

In Hamburg, a ceremony is scheduled at 18:00 hours Nov. 18 in Goethesaal, Logenhaus, Welckerstraße 8, Hamburg. Guest speaker is lawyer Iluta Ādama. A concert of Latvian music will be performed by mezzosoprano Aviva Piniane and pianist Gints Rācenis. A social evening will follow the official program. The event is organized by the Latvian Society of Hamburg, the Hamburg branch of the Daugavas Vanagi veterans group and the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church of Hamburg.

A commemoration for Munich-area Latvians is scheduled at 15:00 hours Nov. 19 at Heilig-Geist-Kirche, Hugo-Tröndle-Str. 53, Munich.

In Greece the honorary consulate of Latvia in Thessaloniki has organized a reception to mark Latvia’s independence and to officially open the Greek-Baltic Chamber of Trade and Industry. The event is scheduled at 21:00 hours Nov. 18 in the Makedonia Palace Hotel, M. Alexandrou Ave. 2, Thessaloniki. Jānis Eichmanis, Latvia’s ambassador in Greece, and Honorary Consul Agis Kynigopoulos will be among participants.

Ireland, home to an estimated 20,000 recent Latvian migrants, will see Independence Day marked during a Nov. 18 reception at the Embassy of Latvia, 14 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. The event is organized by embassy staff and the Latvian Society of Ireland, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the Netherlands the Latvian Society “Latvija” hosts an Independence Day celebration beginning at 12:00 hours in Gebouw Nieuwerdammerham, Havikslaan 20, Amsterdam Noord. Guest speaker is Ambassador Baiba Braže. Also on the program are musical performances by the folklore group Ceiruleits and music teacher Miervaldis Ziemelis, both from Latvia. Poet Pēteris Dragūns will read his work. The photographs of Dace Sietiņa and Angela Shenderlinga, students at the Rotterdam Art Academy, will be on exhibit. Admission for members of the society is EUR 10, for nonmembers EUR 15.

Latvians in Switzerland are invited to a Nov. 30 reception in Zurich hosted by Honorary Consul Ragnar Granelli.

In the United Kingdom, a commemorative service is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Nov. 17 in St. Stephen with St. John Church, Rochester Row, London. The Rev. J. Jurģis will say the sermon. After the service, at 7:15 p.m., a program is scheduled in Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, London. Guest speaker will be Ambassador Indulis Berziņš. Also on the program is a concert featuring the Lattelekom Mixed Choir from Rīga, conductor Juris Kļaviņš, flautist Ieva Rūtentāle, cellist Kristīne Blaumane and pianist and composer Pēteris Plakidis. The event is organized by the Latvian National Council in Great Britain and the Daugavas Vanagi veterans organization.

The Lattelekom Mixed Choir also will perform a program of folk and classical choral music at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in St Mary’s Church, Paddington Green, London. The concert is sponsored by the British-Latvian Association. Admission is by donation of GBP 5.

Commemorations also are scheduled in four other communities around the United Kingdom, according to the Web site Latvians in Halifax will mark Independence Day with a program at 1 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Daugavas Vanagi Fund house at 8 Lord St., Halifax. For residents of the Straumēni rest home, a program is planned at 4 p.m. Nov. 19 in the rest home at Catthorpe Manor, Catthorpe, Leicestershire. In Doncaster, a program is scheduled at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Daugavas Vanagi Fund home, 88 Kings Road, Doncaster. And in Leeds, a program is set at 2 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Daugavas Vanagi Fund home, 2 Mexborough Ave., Leeds.

Earlier, Ambassador Bērziņš spoke Nov. 12 at a commemoration in the Latvian center in Bedford, while on Nov. 14 violinist Baiba Skride and pianist Diāna Ketlere performed in the Embassy of Latvia in London.

As further evidence that Latvians can be found everywhere, the Latvian community of Guernsey—one of the Channel Islands near the coast of France—is scheduled to observe Independence Day on Nov. 19. Representatives of the Latvian Embassy in London are expected at the first-ever ceremony. Tatjana Kaminska and Toms Ostrovskis, who are studying music in London, will perform in concert. About 2,000 workers from Latvia reside in the Channel Islands, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

United States

In California, the Latvian community in the Los Angeles area will mark Independence Day with a program beginning at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Latvian Community Center, 1955 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles. Guntis Šmidchens, a lecturer at the Universitty of Washington, will deliver an address titled, ““Kad atnāks latviešu valodai tie laiki…?: 2005. gada revolūcija Amerikas augstkolās.”

The community centered around the District of Columbia will commemorate the day at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church of Washington, D.C., 400 Hurley Ave., Rockville. Md. Guest speaker Rasma Kārkliņa, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will deliver an address titled, “Mēs demokratijā.” Her speech will be followed by a performance by the New York Latvian Concert Choir, directed by Andrejs Jansons. Paintings by Rolands Bruno Butāns also will be on exhibit. General admission to the program is USD 30. Senior citizen and student admission is USD 25. School pupils will be admitted free.

Latvians in the Chicago area of Illinois will mark Independence Day with several events, according to the Web site A joint religious service is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in St. Peter’s Latvian Lutheran Church, 450 Forest Preserve Drive, Wood Dale. The Krišjānis Barons Latvian School hosts a commemorative program at 11 a.m. Nov. 19 in the school located at the Zion Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church, 6551 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago. A community-wide celebration begins at 5 p.m. Nov. 19, also at Zion Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church. Featured speaker is Mārtiņš Duhms, chairman of the American Latvian Association. The evening’s concert will include performances by soprano Maija Kovaļevska and pianist Rūdolfs Ozoliņš, the Chicago Latvian Men’s Choir directed by Māra Vārpa, the choir of Zion Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church directed by Ingrīda Jennigs, and pianist Sandra Aļļe. A social hour will follow the program. Admission to the official program and concert is USD 15, but for the entire evening it is USD 30. The event is organized by the Association of Chicago Latvian Organizations.

In Indiana the American Latvian University Students, or ALUS, will celebrate Latvia’s Independence Day at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Indiana Union on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington. The event will include songs, poetry and speeches. Refreshments, including smalkmaizītes, will be available. The program will be in English and Latvian. For further information, contact Andrejs Kancs at

In Georgia, Roberts Kukainis, former president of the American Latvian Youth Assocation, and Dagnija Deimante-Hartmane, a Fulbright scholar from Latvia, will be the guest speakers as Latvian Independence Day is celebrated at 3 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Hilton Garden Inn, 895 Cobb Place Blvd., Kennesaw. Admission is USD 20 per person. Children under 13 will be admitted free. The event is hosted by Georgia Latvian-Americans. For further information, telephone Jalna at +1 (770) 649-8809 or Rita at +1 (770) 552-0443.

Latvians in Minnesota will mark Independence Day with a program at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Latvian House, 2337 Central Ave. N.E., Minneapolis. Vija Vīksne, chairperson of the American Latvian Youth Association (Amerikas latviešu jaunatnes apvienība), will be the guest speaker.

Several events are scheduled in the New Jersey and New York area. In New Jersey, a church service and commemorative program begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 153 Glenwood Ave., East Orange. Guest speaker will be Marģers Pinnis, president of the Baltic Association to the United Nations.

The largest celebration is scheduled at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 in Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church of New York, 253 Valentine Lane, Yonkers. Guest speaker will be Jānis Krēsliņš, Jr. of the Royal Library of Sweden. The RIX Piano Quartet will perform. A social hour will follow. Admission is USD 25. Children ages 12 and younger, as well as pupils of Latvian schools, will be admitted free.

A commemorative program begins at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at the New Jersey center Priedaine, 1017 Highway 33 East, Freehold. Admission is USD 20. Guest speaker will be community activist and journalist Ojārs Celle. Music will be performed by violist Una Tone and pianist Uga Grants.

Latvians in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania will mark Independence Day with two events. The RIX Piano Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 in St. John’s Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church, 301 N. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square. A reception will follow the concert. Admission is USD 30.

An ecumenical Latvian Independence Day service is set at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 in the Bucks County Latvian Ev.-Lutheran Church, 424 Juniper St., Quakertown.

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

13 thoughts on “Latvians worldwide mark Independence Day


  2. Ivan-

    Is your post a joke? You seriously think Latvia would be better off under Russian control? Look a how corrupt and poor Russia is. The only reason Latvia is still poorer than the West is because of Russia and people like you.

    What are you talking about civil rights? Is Russia the model in that respect?

    And before you start to label us as Jew haters, let’s not forget Russian pogroms and that anti-semitism is widespread in Russia today.

  3. Aleks,

    I agree with your comments.

    To add to the actual article, here in Denver, we will be celebrating the 18th of November with a program and dinner/dance on Saturday night (Nov. 19th, Starting at 6pm, $15 a person) and with a Latvian art exhibit at +Plus Gallery in Denver (which opens at 6:30pm on Nov. 18th).

    Visu Labu!

    Aleks the Jurmalnieks

  4. To Aleks the Jurmalnieks:

    I wish I could be in Denver- sounds like a good event. Alas, I will be toiling away at work in NYC (on my birthday nonethe less).


  5. As a jewish latvian, I would almost take offence at the ludicrous assertions of I. Drago…but seeing how absolutely rubbish they are, I can only roll my eyes. Poor man. It must be miserable to be so out of touch with the reality (i.e, to begin with, Latvia has one of the fastest growing GDPs of the new EU member countries; second, it has a growing and prosperous Jewish community…ah, the list goes on). It must be so lonely, I. Drago, to be so fascist yourself and full of baseless nationalist anger; condeming Latvia for the very mentality that he exhibited in his email. In summary, poor sod. There is enough for you to worry about in the Balkans than to make such baseless statements about Latvija. On that point, Happy independence day, Latvija!

  6. Long live a prosperous and happy Latvia! Latvians don’t need Russians to spoil this day or anybody who is jealous of their independence! I am happy to see Latvians get of their knees and decide their own future. Also, if Latvia were so awful, why do 500,000 Russians insist on living there, and they refuse to go to Russia? It is because they know life is better in Lativia than Russia. Same goes for Estonia and Lithuania (oh and let’s not forget Finland, which did not suffer 50 years of occupation and cultural genocide by Russians, but they did managed to avoid being Russified before World War I). Lativija forever!

  7. Nazi collaborators is probably the wrong term to use — if I recall my history, there were Bolshevik (Communist) collaborators as well, in fact, these “collaborators” (Strelnieki) allowed the Bolsheviks to take power in Russia ! So in that case — Russians should look upon the Latvians as their liberators from Czarist Russia !!
    There is a big difference in collaborating with the German Army to defend your homeland from a second invasion by the Red Army — the old expression of the enemy of my enemy is my ally — there were many who served in the German Army (Latvian Legion) who did not have a betterchoice — at least with the German Army they had a slim chance of preventing the Red Army and the commissars from returning, it still does not do justice to those who participated in the extermination of undesirables no matter which side participated.
    The important thing to remember is that these events took place in the past, the future is what is important – besides you cannot place the blame on previous generations on those of today — I would not consider myself a Nazi collaborator — in fact I spent several years looking across the barbed wire, etc., that the Russians placed to keep people in the Warsaw Pact

  8. Mr. I Drago…you are such a small little man. Your attitude only strengthens most civilized peoples view that Russians are stupid pesants! Before Communism Russia was a vibrant,cultured society with people who added value to world cultural heratage.
    You want to talk about colaboration! Who were the Communists, scolars, educators, artists…I think not. They were pesants like yourself with zero culture who started a second ” Dark Ages ” in Europe.
    I think, joining the Germans to rid the world of one more Russian was not only the best move but a service to the rest of the world. My only regret is that one of the Latvian sharpshooters missed your father during the war. The world needs you like it needed the former ” Soviet Union “. With any luck, you will soon go the way of the Soviet Union.
    Yes, by the way, Putin is much like the word for ” bird ” in latvian. My guess is that is the size of his brain…..

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