The White Night is a contemporary urban culture forum — one night in the year when the citizens are encouraged to experience a state of creative wakefulness, which will alter archaic notions of the environment and its cultural life. It is a decision to have a unique experience and participate in artist-initiated activities. Beginning in 2002 in Paris, the White Night forum then spread to Brussels, Rome and Madrid, also reaching Riga in this first wave of cities.

The White Night is traditionally held in autumn, and this year will take place on the night of 6–7 September. 


“Night turns many things around. The Sun, which illuminates by day, is replaced by the Moon, which gladly displays itself on the night sky’s captivating backdrop, and, just like in a Georges Méliès movie, transforms into a humane being capable of unexpected grimaces. Darkness allows the imagination to unfold, while the city provides countless reference points,” art critic Vilnis Vējš describes this year’s White Night programme.


This year once again the arrival of darkness can be awaited in Old Riga: a large-scale contemporary video art exhibition from the private collection of Julia Stoschek (Germany) will be displayed at Riga Art Space below Town Hall Square. Festival Survival Kit performances organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art will revive the hitherto dormant Wagner Concert Hall, while unique amateur cinematic pieces about daily Soviet Riga life will find a voice through jazz and young Poetry Days participants in the Small Guild courtyard. The Anglican Church will house Skaņu mežs, the Association for Adventurous Music and Related Arts, this year introducing experimental French music, while refined Bahian singing will fill St. Peter’s Church. Then the night’s stroll disperses into all directions of Riga’s suburbs. Along with the active Spīķeri district (whose programme will be developed by the Centre for New Media Culture RIX-C, the Contemporary Art Centre kim? and Independent Theatre Dirty Deal Teatro), the new National Library will also introduce itself as an important epicentre of events, the imposing architecture of which will resonate with the radio NABA project “Videographies”. Chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Riga will perform their own vision of White Night at the newly-opened Concert Hall Riga of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Italian artist Grazia Toderi’s monumental video installation “The Red Orbits” will be displayed at the Floating Art Centre NOASS.


Typically more dynamic city locations such as streets, offices and shops  then make way for the topographic epicentres of nightlife — cafés, clubs, and discreet private meeting places. The French cinema classic, Georges Méliès’s 1902 “Le Voyage dans la Lune” (A Trip to the Moon), will be hourly screened in the Small Hall of cinema Splendid Palace, and Italian video artist Yuri Ancarani’s works will be shown in the Great Hall. On the White Night, film festival 2ANNAS will show a diverse  programme of short films at cinemas Splendid Palace and K. Suns, while the Vērmanes Garden stage will switch Riga to an alternative regime, synthesising the chresomathic works “Man with a Movie Camera” and “Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis” by documentary cinema classicists Dziga Vertov (Дзига Вертов) and Walter Ruttmann with 21st century sounds (TV Maskava and Ohmtek, Stropu Jurka, Toms Auniņš, Andris Indāns, Māris Butlers, Valters Pūce). By night everyday routines become redundant, and city map to navigate the night will be meaningless come morning. During the White Night, screens showcase larger-than-life characters, speakers rumble with audial passwords intelligible only to the anointed but fascinating to all. Objects temporarily gain shape, and performances celebrate their own uniqueness. Opposite the National Opera, French artist Antonin Fourneau will give everyone the opportunity to draw light graffiti with water, and Bastejkalns will transform into a mythical mountain of poetry, sounds and pictures or Mountain of Words. Belgian artist Matthieu Bogaert’s colour installations will illuminate the wet stone walls of Vidzeme Market meat pavilion, and theatre Daile will host French artist Neil Beloufa’s audiovisual composition “World Supremacy”. 


Pārdaugava’s neighbourhoods will have lots to offer: the White Night will see Daugavgrīva fortress come alive with stories of its heroes, culture centre IMANTA will play shadow theatre, and poetry event “Night. An indistinct shine” will take place under the shade of Akuratera Museum’s dense trees. Pārdaugava centre in the Kalnciema district will ring out to Juris Kulakovs’s cantata “Mīlestībā viļņo krūts” (The bosom heaves with love) performed by the legendary band Pērkons and men’s choir Gaudeamus

Riga’s Vidzeme suburb will have lots to see, hear and feel as well: the French contemporary dance and circus artists Boris Gibé and Florent Hamon will première their performance MOUVINSITU at the VEF Culture Palace, and poet Aivars Neibart’s spirit will be present once again in Sarkandaugava Park. The joint production of Flemish choreographer Koen Augustijnen and eight Latvian dancers about the relationships between suburban communities will be performed in the midst of Vecmīlgrāvis reinforced concrete jungle.


The White Night’s wondrous journey is available to all those prepared to sharpen their sight and hearing under the influence of a wakeful night, until the finest of senses manifest themselves letting one participate in the surrounding events. This nightly brotherhood of artists is always prepared to regroup into new units and networks — never repeating itself but instead welcoming new opportunities and participants.