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Riga Christmas Tree Trail – Public Art Exhibition

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the festive decorations.  From wreaths to bows, snowflakes to candy canes, I love how city streets, shop windows and public buildings are transformed.  Riga, the capitol of Latvia, has taken this one step further and is sponsoring a public art exhibition called the Christmas Tree Trail.  Artists and students have constructed modern interpretations of  the classic Christmas tree.  These fantastic sculptures are on display throughout the city from December 6 – January 12.  Let’s take a look at some of my favorites!

ATMINAS PAR SNIEGU Māra Maižele Uģis Bērziņš

ATMINAS PAR SNIEGU (Memories of Snow) – Māra Maižele Uģis Bērziņš

All photos are by Juris Kalniņš and are used with permission from Live Riga.

BALETS (Ballet Trees) - Visvaldis Asaris

BALETS (Ballet Trees) by Visvaldis Asaris

KAS ATNESA EGLĪTI Iveta Heinacka, Laura Bistrakova

KAS ATNESA EGLĪTI (Who Brought the Christmas Tree?) by Iveta Heinacka and Laura Bistrakova

KAS ATNESA EGLĪTI Iveta Heinacka, Laura Bistrakova

KAS ATNESA EGLĪTI (Who Brought the Christmas Tree?) – Iveta Heinacka and Laura Bistrakova

The Christmas Tree Trail (official website) is a fresh interpretation of a very old tradition.  Residents of Latvia have been decorating Christmas Trees for over 500 years.  In 2010, Riga organized a exhibit of avant garde art trees created by local artists and students from the Latvia Academy of Arts.  The event was so popular that it has now become an annual event!  Some of the most popular trees are brought back from year to year and shown alongside new pieces.  For example, “Who Brought the Christmas Tree” by Iveta Heinacka and Laura Bistrakova (shown above) is back for its second year.  For 2013, there are 65 trees in total on display!

Riga Christmas tree map

Click here to see a Riga city map highlighting all the tree locations.

SAULGRIEZU BALTAA EGLE Diāna Janušone Elīna Vojevoda

SAULGRIEZU BALTAA EGLE (White Solstice Tree) by Diāna Janušone and Elīna Vojevoda

GADSKĀRTU EGLE (Yearly Christmas Tree) - Māra Maižele, Uģis Bērziņš

The clay bricks of GADSKĀRTU EGLE (Yearly Christmas Tree) by Māra Maižele and Uģis Bērziņš blend into the architecture of Riga’s old town.

EGLE TETRIS Lauris Vītoliņš

Recognize this tree? It’s based on the game Tetris! EGLE TETRIS (Tetris Tree) by Lauris Vītoliņš.

The exhibit encourages creativity and supports modern artists.  I’m excited to see a city that so embraces public art and sponsors amazing events like this!  It shouldn’t be a surprise then that Riga was selected to be the 2014 European Capital of Culture!  This year long celebration will feature exhibits, concerts and festivals to showcase the historic art treasures of Riga and its thriving art community.  For this and many other reasons, Riga has been showing up on the 2014 recommended travel lists (like National Geographic and Lonely Planet) and is certainly on my radar.  I may not make it in time to see these amazing Christmas Trees, but I hope to see Riga soon!

KOKA EGLE Jānis Ezers, Visvaldis Asaris

The KOKA EGLE (Wood Tree) by Jānis Ezers and Visvaldis Asaris.  You can see the soaring Freedom Monument in the background.

KOKA EGLE Jānis Ezers, Visvaldis Asaris (detail)

Lovely detail from 2012 of the snow covered birds and berries from KOKA EGLE (Wood Tree) by Jānis Ezers and Visvaldis Asaris.

STIKLA EGLE Ernests Vītiņš Ernests Ronis

STIKLA EGLE (Tree of Glass) by Ernests Vītiņš and Ernests Ronis.

VAI TU JUTI EGLU SPEKU Iveta Heinacka Laura Bistrakova Marta Ģi

VAI TU JUTI EGLU SPEKU (Do You Feel the Tree Force) by Iveta Heinacka, Laura Bistrakova, and Marta Ģi.

PĒRNO EGLU PANSIONATS Ēvalds Vanags Rihards Ābeltiņš

PĒRNO EGLU PANSIONATS (The Last Year of the Tree Nursing Home) by Ēvalds Vanags and Rihards Ābeltiņš

ATTISTIBAS EGLE Helēna Spridzāne

ATTISTIBAS EGLE (Tree of Development) by Helēna Spridzāne

EGLE RAKETE (Rocket Tree) - Studio des Fetes Latvija

EGLE RAKETE (Rocket Tree) by Studio des Fetes Latvija

So what do you think?  Which is your favorite Christmas Tree from the festival?

UPDATED! Click here to see the new trees introduced for 2014!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. I can’t wait to see this beautiful display in person!!


    December 9, 2013
    • When are you moving? The trees will be up til mid-Jan. I’m so excited that you are going to see and explore Riga! This is a great year to be there. Take lots of pictures and have a great time!


      December 9, 2013
  2. Balets …


    December 10, 2013
  3. ashleynoxp #

    Love these!


    December 10, 2013
    • Me too! Why don’t we have more year-round public art like this?


      December 10, 2013

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