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Unvaxxed cast out to sea as Latvia festival returns

Laivā, the unique ‘crossover festival’ with a partly floating audience, returned to Riga on Sunday 15 August, with DaGamba, the popular Latvian band behind the event, welcoming 5,000 people for another day of music on the shores and waters of Jugla Lake.

Now in its second year after launching last summer, Laivā – Latvian for “on a boat”, as well as a play on the English word “live” – featured performances from local artists Skyforger, Bur Mani and Gints Smukais, as well as DaGamba themselves.

The bands performed to an audience of around 5,000 people in kayaks, dinghies and motor yachts, with some 3,500 fans watching from the shore and another 1,500 on the water. Organisers offered boat hire services, though festivalgoers could also bring their own.

In Latvia, government restrictions mean vaccinated and unvaccinated concertgoers must be separated, so only fans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (or had natural antibodies) were allowed to watch the show from the shore of the lake.

“This is simply a brilliant idea for how to hold a festival while ensuring social distancing for the unvaccinated”

The stage was also located on the shore, while drinks were available from two bars floating on the Jugla.

The attendance at Laivā 2021 was a significant increase on 2020 (before the coronavirus vaccine became available), when 1,500 people attended the socially distanced debut event.

“This is simply a brilliant idea for how to hold a festival and ensure social distancing for the unvaccinated at the same time,” Anna Berzina, who was rowing a kayak with her husband, tells AFP.

At press time, just 726,000 Latvians – less than 40% of the population – was fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in the European Union. The Latvian prime minister, Krišjānis Kariņš, said today (18 August) that “unvaccinated people are likely to have more and more restrictions, particularly on [freedom of] assembly” in the coming months.


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Latvia paves the way for float-in music festivals

Latvia is the latest country to come up with a creative format for socially distanced concerts after pioneering float-in music festival, Laiva.

The one-day festival took place on Lake Jugla and saw 1,500 people in boats watch Laima Jansone, Tautumeitas and Dagamba perform on the shores, at the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum.

Guests were invited to either rent a boat or bring their own, provided it fell into the category of a rowing boat, SUP board, or a motorboat with a lift motor.

The festival, which took place on 8 August, was streamed live on TV channel LMT Straume and organisers dubbed it “a phenomenal evening”.

From deck chair concerts in Germany to tuk-tuk drive-ins in Thailand and bike-in concerts in Italy, Lativa’s float-in music festival is the latest in a series of innovative socially distanced shows taking place worldwide.

Latvia’s government has reported 1,290 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 32 related deaths. In May, The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania opened their borders to one another, creating Europe’s first coronavirus “travel bubble” since nations began shutting their borders earlier this year.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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