Latvians worldwide prepare to celebrate Jāņi

Latvians living abroad this year will be able to properly celebrate the biggest traditional holiday, Jāņi, because the dates of June 23-24 fall on the weekend. Unlike in Latvia, where Līgo vakars (June 23) and Jāņi (June 24) are official holidays, for Latvians abroad the festivities usually have to be moved to the closest weekend in an effort to avoid work and other responsibilities.

The Midsummer or summer solstice festival—which includes traditional foods like Jāņi cheese, the singing of “līgo” songs, and a bonfire that is kept burning all night long—will be marked in many Latvian communities abroad, but especially in North America, Europe and Australia. While most celebrations will be June 23-24, some are planned earlier.

Here’s a rundown of many Jāņi celebrations outside of Latvia, with information gathered by Latvians Online and by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This list at present is incomplete and will grow as details are confirmed. The events section of Latvians Online will have further details.


Cry for Argentina’s Latvians, because they apparently won’t be celebrating Jāņi, at least not in a formal way. Mirdza Zalta, Latvia’s honorary consul in Buenos Aires, said in an e-mail that the community used to gather in the church to mark the holiday, but now so few Latvians remain that the holiday is not observed. Besides, it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere and Argentina is cold and rainy, she said.


It’s winter in Australia, too, but that won’t stop festivities. Every major community has planned a celebration.

In the Australian Capital Territory, Latvians will mark Jāņi at 14:00 hours June 24 in the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 37 Burnie St., Lyons.

In New South Wales, festivities are scheduled at 13:00 hours June 24 in the Sydney Latvian House, 32 Parnell St., Strathfield. Performing will be the folk dance troupe Jautrais Pāris,the Sydney Latvian Society Saturday School and the musical group Kastietādi.

Queensland Latvians will start their Jāni celebrations at 16:00 hours June 24 in the Latvian House, 24 Church Court, Buranda. The local folk ensemble Zigrīda Ansamblis will perform. Admission is AUD 5.

Latvians in Adelaide and other parts of South Australia have set two events. A social evening is scheduled at 19:00 hours June 23 in the Daugavas Vanagi House, 23 Clark St., Wayville. A bigger celebration begins at 14:00 hours June 24 in the Latvian Camp “Dzintari,” Willson Drive, Normanville. Accommodations and breakfast cost AUD 10. Reservations may be made until June 19 by telephone Margota Puķīte at +61 08 8261 9931.

Latvians living in Melbourne and the rest of Victoria will mark Jāņi twice. The “Daugava” Latvian school and Latvian boys scouts and girl guides will celebrate at noon June 17 at the Latvian center Tērvete, Old Lancefield Road, Kilmore. Another celebration begins at 14:00 hours June 18 in the Latvian House, 3 Dickens St., Elwood.

In the Perth area of Western Australia, the community will mark the holiday at 14:00 hours June 25 in the Latvian Centre, 60 Clever Terrace, Belmont.


About 30 kilometers southeast of Brussels is where Latvians in Belgium and France will mark Līgo. Festivities start at 19:00 hours June 23 at Ferme du Château de Corroy-le-Grand, Chemin du Serrui 4, Corroy-le-Grand. The event is organized by the Latvian Society in Belgium and the Latvian representative office to the NATO defense alliance. The event begins with a program including a performance of the Rūdolfs Blaumanis play “Skroderdienas Silmačos” followed by an open-air dance to the music of Draugi, a schlager band. A special bus will meet participants at 18:00 hours and at 19:30 hours at the intersection of rue Montoyer and rue d’Arlon in Brussels and take them to the Līgo venue. The bus will return to Brussels at 02:00 and 04:00 hours June 24, according to the newsletter of the Latvian Association of France. Admission to the event is EUR 10 for adults, EUR 5 for children up to the age of 15. For further information about the event, telephone +32 477 770411. For further information on the location, visit


The Līgo celebration on June 23 in the San Paulo city of Nova Odessa will have special meaning this year. It has been a century since Latvians established a community in Nova Odessa, said Jānis Grimbergs, Latvia’s honorary consul in San Paulo. For further information about the celebration, e-mail Ralfs Kļaviņš, chairperson of the Latvian Association of Brazil.


Latvians in Canada have their choice of a variety of Midsummer events and can party for several days.

In Toronto, Jāņi festivities are scheduled beginning at 5 p.m. June 23 with dinner at the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive. Singing and other Midsummer activities start at 7 p.m. The folk dance groups Daugaviņa and Daugava are scheduled to perform. Music will be provided by Uģis Miezītis and Buččča, a group from Ogre, Latvia. Admission is CAD 20. Dinner costs CAD 10. Tickets and tables may be reserved by calling the center’s office at +1 (416) 759-4900. For further information, visit

At Camp Sidrabene, Midsummer festivities begin at 7 p.m. June 24. The camp is located at 5100 Appleby Line, Milton West, Ontario. The folk dance groups Daugaviņa and Dižais Dancis are scheduled to perform. Music will be provided by Uģis Miezītis and Buččča, a group from Ogre, Latvia, as well as The Testostertones. Adult admission is CAD 20 and student admission is CAD 10. Children to age five will be admitted free. For accommodations, contact Roy Collins at +1 (905) 335-3849. Space for tents will be available free of charge. For further information, visit

However, at Camp Saulaine participants will have the opportunity to put in a good day’s work before celebrating. A “workbee” begins at 9 a.m. June 24 and volunteers are asked to come prepared to clean and organize both indoors and out, according to Kristīne Stivriņš, an organizer of the event. The camp is located along RR1, Utopia. Volunteers are asked to bring chainsaws. Gloves will be provided. The payoff? All meals, camping or lodging, and Sunday breakfast will be free. Jāņi celebrations begin at 6 p.m. with a barbeque, a pole fire, singing and games. Participants should provide their own refreshments. Admission for guests is CAD 6. Guest lodging or camping costs CAD 10 per person per night. Sunday breakfast for guests is CAD 5. To volunteer for the “workbee,” telephone Michel Parent at +1 (416) 240-1403. To reserve lodging or camping space, e-mail Tony Holden or telephone him at +1 (705) 424-1118. For further information, visit

In Québec, festivities at Camp Tērvete begin at 14:00 hours June 24 with the running of the “Jāņu jūdze.” The camp is located on chemin Tervete, Comté Argenteuil. Midsummer celebrations get under way at 16:00 hours with a performance by the folk dance troupe Ačkups. The following day, the Trinity Latvian Ev. Lutheran Church of Montréal holds a service at 13:00 hours. For further information, visit

And if all that is still not enough celebrating, revelers may head back to Toronto, where at 18:00 hours June 28 Pēteri will be observed in the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre, 4 Credit Union Drive. In Latvian folklore, Pēteri immediately follows Jāņi and marks the intensification of work around the farmstead, although much of the celebrating observed during Jāņi also continues, according to Latviešu gads, gadskārta un godi by Marģers and Māra Grīns. The event includes a barbeque, singing and a dance. Admission is CAD 20. Tickets and tables may be reserved by calling the center’s office at +1 (416) 759-4900. For further information, visit


Ambassador Rihards Muciņš has invited Latvians in Estonia to a June 16 celebration in the garden of the Embassy of Latvia, 10 Tõnismägi Street, Tallinn. The popular and satirical music group Labvēlīgs Tips will perform. Festivities begin at 19:00 hours, according to Juris Bone, first secretary. Following the concert, refreshments will be served, including Latvian beer, Jāņu siers and pīrāgi.


France will not see a formal Jāņi observance, according to the newsletter of the Latvian Association in France. Instead, Latvians in France will join the community in Belgium and celebrate Līgo starting at 19:00 hours June 23 at Ferme du Château de Corroy-le-Grand, Chemin du Serrui 4, Corroy-le-Grand, which is about 30 kilometers southeast of Brussels. Admission is EUR 10 for adults, EUR 5 for children up to the age of 15. Those expecting to participate are asked to inform the Latvian Association in France by calling +33 2 43 90 21 70. For further information on the location, visit


Germany, still in the midst of World Cup fever, will see several Jāņi celebrations.

In Hamburg, the Latvian community will celebrate starting at 17:00 hours June 24 at Svenja Furken, Brauner Hirsch 70, Ahrensburg. Participants are asked to bring food to share, but the organizers will provide refreshments. Admission is EUR 5. For further information and to RSVP, visit

Latvians in Munich will mark Jāņi beginning at 16:00 hours June 24 in an undisclosed location at Ludwigsfeld. For further information about the bring-your-own affair, visit the Web site Minhenes Letiņi.

Nilss Silkalns’ handy LATVIJA/LETTLAND/LATVIA e-mail newsletter notes several other locations. In Bonn, Jāņi will be celebrated June 23 at Haus Annaberg, Annaberger Str. 400. For further information, visit In Hannover, festivities are planned June 24. Visit for further information. And in Freiburg at the Daugavas Vanagi rest home Berzaine, a celebration is tentatively set for June 24. For further information, telephone +49 76153340.

Silkalns’ newsletter also notes the while a formal celebration no longer is held in Muenster, once home to a Latvian high school, local Latvians still are expected to congregate June 24 in Nordpark.


The Latvian Society in Ireland (Latviešu Biedrība Īrijā) is organizing a Midsummer celebration for its members and friends beginning the evening of June 23 at the Luther House, 24 Adelaide Road, Dublin, according to the society’s Web site. For further information and to RSVP, e-mail

The Web site also notes another celebration scheduled at 18:00 hours June 23 at the Old Mill Hotel, Julianstown, Co. Meath. Sponsored by the Lituanica store, the event is to include a bonfire, games, music and other activities. Adult tickets are EUR 10 if purchased before June 23, EUR 15 if purchased the day of the event. Children to age 12 will be admitted free. Tickets are available at Lituanica, 56 Amiens St., Dublin.

United Kingdom

Several Jāni celebrations are planned in the United Kingdom, according to the Latvian-British Web site

On the island of Guernsey, where hundreds of Latvians now reportedly work, a Jāņi celebration is scheduled at 19:00 hours June 23 in the Mirage Café in L’Ancresse. Admission is 10 GBP. For further information, telephone +44 07781 409870.

At the Straumēni rest home, festivities are scheduled June 24. Straumēni is located at Catthorpe Manor, Catthorpe, Leicestershire. Performances by the dance troupes Rīdze and Kristīne will highlight the celebration. Admission is GBP 4. The fee for tents and motor homes is GBP 3.

The following day, June 25, the focus shifts to Bristol, where Jāni celebrations get under way at 18:00 hours in the Polish Club, 50 St. Pauls Road. Sponsored by the Bristol Latvian Society, the event includes performances by the dance troupes Rīdze and Ilga. General admission is GBP 10, but for pensioners, GBP 7.

United States

Several communities in the United States have scheduled Jāni festivities.

Latvians in northern California will celebrate Jāņi on June 18 at the Oaks picnic area by San Pablo Reservoir, 7301 San Pablo Dam Road, El Sobrante. Organizers will provide charcoal, sausages, beer and nonalcoholic drinks. Participants are asked to bring other food. Activities will include various sports. For further information, contact Māris Pubulis by e-mail or telephone +1 (510) 632-4366.

In southern California, celebrations begin at noon June 24 at Crown Point Place Beach, 3700 Crown Point Drive, San Diego. Look for the Latvian flag and the līgotāji. Admission is USD 5. For further information, telephone Jānis Legzdiņš at +1 (619) 299-3624 or +1 (619) 851-2358.

In Maryland, Līgo will be celebrated beginning at 5 p.m. June 23 at the home of jewelry maker Aleksandrs Pāriņš, 13300 Old Indian Head Road, Brandywine, which is about an hour’s drive southeast of Washington, D.C. For further information, telephone +1 (301) 782-4277.

One of the biggest celebrations in the nation will take place in Michigan at the Latvian Center Gaŗezers, 57732 Lone Tree Road, Three Rivers. Activities begin the morning of June 24 with the annual Dr. V. Kore Memorial Golf Tournament at the Pine View Golf Club, 52065 Pulver Road, Three Rivers. Evening festivities in the “Dziesmu leja” (Song Hollow) at Gaŗezers beging with a 7 p.m. concert by the Los Angeles Men’s Choir. Festivities continue with music provided by a Lithuanian dance orchestra and the rock band Adam Zahl. The next day a service, led by the Rev. Gundega Puidze, is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. in the open-air church. That evening the Jānis Streičs film Limuzīns Jāņu nakts krāsā (Limousine the Color of Midsummer Eve) will be shown at 6:30 p.m.

New Hampshire will likely draw many Latvians from the Boston area to celebrate Jāņi on June 24 at Piesaule, a rural property owned by the “Trimda” Latvian Lutheran Church of Boston. Piesaule is located at 21 Davis Road, Bradford. For further information, telephone Valda Spalviņa at +1 (508) 520-8851 or visit

In New Jersey the Latvian midsummer festival, will be celebrated beginning at 4 p.m. June 24 at the Latvian center Priedaine, 1017 Highway 33 East, Freehold. Folk dancing by the New York ensemble Jumis is scheduled from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The schlager group Zeļļi from Latvia will perform from 7-8 p.m. One of Latvia’s most popular schlager groups, the four-man Zeļļi has released 12 albums. Members of the group include Ilmārs Stivriņš, Raitis Treijs, Ivars Birkāns and Jānis Vējiņš. Dancing to the music of Zeļļi begins at 8:30 p.m. A bonfire is to be lit about 10:30 p.m., followed by singing, or līgošana, to the accompaniment of accordeon music played by Jānis Students. Admission is USD 20. For further information, telephone Jānis Students at +1 (732) 836-9750 or visit

In New York, learn how to make traditional Midsummer Jāņu siers and enjoy a barbeque June 17 in the backyard of the Brooklyn Parsonage House, 564 Second St., Brooklyn. A church service will start at 2 p.m. and the cheese making is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. with the barbeque to follow.

In upstate New York at the Latvian Lutheran Camp near Tannersville in the Catskill Mountains, the annual “DižTalka” of cleanup and preparation is scheduled June 24-25. Volunteers aged 10 and older are asked to assemble at the canteen the morning of June 24. That evening, before work continues the next day, a Jāņi celebration is planned and is to include a bonfire, singing and games. To reserve accommodations, telephone Janīna Briģe at +1 (518) 589-9932. Further information is available by visiting

Jāņi in the Cleveland area of Ohio will be celebrated starting at 5 p.m. June 24 at the Ottawa Point Reserved Picnic Area in the Brecksville Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks. A map in Adobe Acrobat format may be downloaded from Cleveland Metroparks.

The Latvian community in Texas, especially from Houston and Austin, will mark Jāņi beginning at noon June 17 in a rented home on Bermuda Beach in Galveston Island, said Sandija Bayot, an honory consul. For further information, telephone Bayot at +1 (713) 888-0404 or +1 (281) 932-9566.

In Virginia, a Jāņi celebration sponsored by the Latvian Investment and Development Agency is scheduled beginning at 4 p.m. June 24 at Hickory Ridge, 887 Reid Road, Lexington. The celebration on Mount Atlas, with views to the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, will be hosted by Margo and John Freivalds. Participants are welcome to bring baskets of summer food and refreshments. RSVP to Ilze Neparte by telephone at +1 (202) 446-8278 or by e-mail at For directions and hotel bookings, contact Margo or John Freivalds at +1 (520) 464-5270 or

Washington state Latvians will mark Jāņi beginning at 5 p.m. June 24 at the West Coast Latvian Education Center, W3381 Dayton Airport Road, Shelton. The event is to include performances by the folk group Denveras Jūrmalnieki and the dance troupe Sietlas Trejdeksnītis. Dinner is scheduled from 5-6:30 p.m., with the program starting at 7 p.m. Other activities scheduled are rides in a horse-drawn wagon, games, singing and a beer and cheese tasting. Admission is USD 20 with dinner, USD 15 without dinner. Family admission is USD 30 plus USD 5 for each dinner. Accommodations cost USD 10 for a tent area, USD 20 for a camper or recretional vehicle and USD 30 for a room. To reserve a room, telephone Ivars Graudiņš at +1 (360) 459-3405.

Two celebrations on two weekends in Wisconsin likely will draw visitors from the Twin Cities in Minnesota and from Chicago. Celebrants may gather June 17 on the Tupesis property on Locust Avenue east of Wilton. In fact, according to organizers Aija and Ēriks Kīns, participants may show up the evening of June 16 to help prepare the property. For further information, e-mail Aija Kīns or telephone her at +1 (773) 329-0309, or e-mail Ēriks Kīns or telephone him at +1 (773) 619-1320, or visit Then, on June 24, Jāņi will be celebrated at the Latvian center Dievsēta, 19264 Bittersweet Ave., Warrens. For further information and to reserve accommodations, contact Gunta Pone by e-mail or telephone her at +1 (612) 987-6341, or contact Elga Pone by e-mail or telephone her at +1 (612) 827-4820. One night’s stay cost USD 15 and meals are USD 5 person, but children younger than six may stay and eat for free.


A Līgo celebration in Uzbekistan is scheduled beginning at 20:00 hours June 23 in the garden of the Latvian Embassy, 6 A Lashkarbegi St., Tashkent, said Inga Skruzmane, first secretary. The celebration, which is to last until 01:00 hours the next morning is for embassy staff, Latvians who are in contactd with the embassy, staff from other embassies of European Union member states and others who have ties with Latvia. Beer from Latvia and Jāņu siers are promised.


No formal Jāņi celebration is planned in Venezuela this year, Latvia’s honorary consul in Caracas, Irene Sadde, said in an e-mail.

(UPDATED 22 JUN 2006)

Jāņi in Wisconsin

Participants in a 2004 Jāņi celebration in Wisconsin are drawn to the bonfire. (Photo by Andris Straumanis)

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

6 thoughts on “Latvians worldwide prepare to celebrate Jāņi

  1. Valuable info for all those non-latvian speaking family members who fondly remember Jāņi celbrations when they were young, but are now scattered around the world and need to know that its still all happening out there! Even in Australia, we enjoy the festivities – notwithstanding winter weather. Evidently the French community in Sydney has started a Festival of Music to commemorate the summer soltice in France by inviting local people to make music together. Maybe next year when the Frencch do it again the Latvian music-makers can participate wearing traditional garlands and wreaths on their heads and singing ‘ligo’ dziesmas. After all we have been doing it for 50 years and still going strong. DG Sydney

  2. Jāņi is neither “traditional Latvian” nor “folklore”, nor is it directly related to the summer solstice. Jāņi is a celebration created by the christian church to commemorate the (suppossed) birthday of John the Baptist. As with other christian holidays, Christmas, Easter, dates near the dates of pagan holidays, or symbols from such holidays, were adopted by the christian church to ease acceptance. Agreed, this happened long enough ago that we could, if we so wished, call Jāņi traditional, but the direct tie to the summer solstice and traditional Līgo celebrations is innacurate and furthers a sadly prevelant lack of knowledge about their true folk traditions and history. For example, many marking Jāņi this year will do so believing that Jānis was a Latvian demi God! (until recently, so did I) While I am sure that the article was timely and gave many an opportunity to decide where to spend their solstice/Jāņi, perhaps a qualified article on both celebrations, Jāņi and Līgo, as well as other true folk traditins, would serve an even greater purpose, educating us about our own past and culture.

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