Savouring the season – Christmas Markets in Riga

December 5, 2018By

The annual IWCR Charity Bazaar was the ideal place to pick-up gifts for everyone on your holiday gift list. But should there still be a few gifts missing and you want to stay local, there are plenty of amazing finds in Riga’s plethora of small Christmas markets! While the Egle Craft Fair is open all year and the Kalnciema Fair is bustling every Saturday, there are a few gems that only open up for the season.

The biggest and most well-known is in the VercrĪgas Ziemassvētku tirdziņš (Old Riga Christmas Market) in the main Dome Square. Complete with a large Christmas tree and a post office for Santa Clause, come for the fine crafts and stay for the gingerbread cookies, and Christmas carols and traditional Latvian songs. This market is open 10am – 8pm, 10pm on weekends and until January 6th.

Just two blocks from Dome Square is Līvu square, another visually stunning backdrop for a Christmas market. This smaller market opened in mid-November but has some amazing little stalls – last year I bought the softest Latvian infinity scarf I have ever felt. Līvu square also hosts a number of restaurants and bars, perfect for admiring the large wooden Christmas tree. Open daily from 10am – 8pm until January 6th.

Down Brīvības, the Esplanāde Park also has a small but lovely Christmas market. While you are checking out the stands be ready to lose your children to a miniature village populated with real rabbits. You can also distract your kids with a ride on the Ferris wheel. Open from 11am – 7pm.

Keep yourself warm while exploring these markets by sipping Karstvins (warm wine with herbs / mulled wine). Be careful though, some vendors will use Black Balsam instead of wine to give your drink a nice kick! Many vendors also have a non-alcoholic version for your kids to enjoy.

There are a few pop-up markets on December 15th & 16th where you can find local crafts and Christmas themed decorations as well, including Rīgas dizaina tirgus (Riga design market) presents “Christmas presents market” at the VEF. Pick up home decor, clothes, accessories, children’s toys and  local baked treats from over 100 Baltic designers and craftspeople (11am – 4pm).

When you are done checking out the markets, find the location of the first Christmas tree; next to the Brotherhood of the Blackheads. The location is marked with a plaque and in winter a large Christmas tree. Legend has it that in 1510 a tree was decorated by members of the Brotherhood with ribbons, flowers and figurines and then burned at the end of the night to ward-off winter.

I love spending a lazy afternoon or a post-Saturday brunch wandering around these little markets and seeing all the amazing locally made products. Nothing says winter like sipping hot wine and nibbling a fresh cookie while I find the perfect gifts for some of the harder to shop for people on my list. And the best part is that I get unique gifts and support local Latvian artisans!

Bundle-up, enjoy the season and check-out the great Christmas markets in Riga.

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