The greatest torchlight procession in Eastern and Central Europe

lāpu gājiens

On the 18th of November 2013 a torchlight procession took place in Riga. The National Alliance organized this event in honour of the 95th anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of Latvia. Almost thirteen thousand people participated in this torchlight procession.

The event has been held for 11 years annually, and each year it unites an even greater number of people, among them mostly young people and families with children.

A tradition of the torchlight procession is to start the event with a brief concert with several artists performing well-known traditional and patriotic songs at the square near the monument of Karlis Ulmanis. The choice of the venue is rather symbolic since Ulmanis was the first prime minister of Latvia. Raivis Dzintars, the leader of the National Alliance, delivered a speech addressing the people who had gathered at the place of the event and expressed his joy to witness the national self-confidence of Latvians grow and the Latvian nation to be aware of the irreplaceable values that they have inherited from their founding fathers. As soon as the musical performances were over, everyone lighted their torches and the broad “river of fire” began to flow towards Old Riga and up to the Monument of Freedom. At the pedestal of the monument the torchlight flames carried by thousands of Latvian patriots blazed in a sea of fire lightening up the words carved in the Monument of Freedom – “For Fatherland and Freedom”.

Roughly thirteen thousand people – patriots of several generations – participated in this torchlight procession, among them also members of the Parliament and the Council of Riga.


The aim of the torchlight procession is to express national gratitude to the founders of the Republic of Latvia and those brave soldiers who gave their lives for the freedom of Latvia. Their faith in the brighter future for the Latvian nation and the ultimate sacrifice of these men provided Latvians with the opportunity to be one of those few nations in the world that have their own country.

The tradition of the torchlight procession began on the 18th of November 2003 as a dedication of All for Latvia! to the Republic of Latvia on the anniversary of the proclamation of its independence. From that day on, each year this event gathers even more participants. Since 2005 the number of people taking part in the event has reached several thousands, and it is gradually becoming the most notable and emotionally touching tradition of the celebration of the 18th of November. This year a significant number of 13’000 people walked the ceremonial torchlight procession route making it the biggest event of its kind in all Eastern and Central Europe.

18. novembra Lāpu gājiens 2013

The torchlight procession from the heights of St Peter’s Church.

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