On November 18, 1918, a group of Latvian intelligentsia declared their nation’s independence from the disintegrating Russian Empire. Dominated by foreign powers since the arrival of Teutonic knights at the end of the 12th century, Latvians finally had their own state. Unfortunately, rogue German military units and the new Bolshevik government in Russia didn’t take the declaration seriously and fighting continued until, with the help of Polish and Estonian armies, all of Latvia’s foes were expelled from the country in 1920. Independence Day is celebrated with various events and concerts in Riga, the laying of flowers and speeches at the Freedom Monument, a military parade on 11.novembra krastmala in the afternoon, fireworks at night and, of course, the Staro Rīga Light Festival. This year’s festivities will take place on a Friday ensuring a three-day weekend. Public transport is also free of charge on the 18th as an added incentive to participate in all the events.