The 'Legends of Āraiši', a good practice by Cult-CreaTE lead partner VTA Latvia, has won 2nd prize in the 'Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism 2019' Awards, in the category CCIs contribution to CCT.

Āraiši is one of the Latvia’s history jewels where every corner holds some legends. In order to present all that richness there where created concept of Āraiši Legends and unique logo which tells stories. The main tourism objects there are The Archeological Park with Lake settlement from 9-10th century, medieval castle ruins, reconstructions of Stone Age dwelling houses, The Windmill where annual Bread Days takes place, Āraiši Lutheran Church where concerts takes place and Drabeši Manor where Crafts House workshops are located as well as home for folk group “Ore” and Latvian instrument kokle musicians. It is a place where to experience true Latvian lifestyle.

The concept of Legends of Āraiši gives chance to use all tourism sites into creative way involving local people – as story tellers, craftsmen, guides, musicians, actors and others. The local legends used are not fantasied, they are told from generations to generations but also new stories are added and told. Āraiši has strong local community, there is even Community map which consist of household stories. Together with designer special dress for Āraiši guide was created to reflect the concept of its legends.

Āraiši is a small place and main tourism sites are conveniently located for circular walking route hence there were invented tourist game using local legends in creative and involving way which tourists could play using their mobile phones.

Every year Museum Night is celebrated at Āraiši involving all main tourism sites providing rich and innovative programme.

The Museum Park excels with unique archaeological findings, placement of reconstructed objects on their original site, and the well-preserved cultural and historical landscape of Vidzeme in contrast to the contemporary urban environment. This rural romanticism is used as a resource to organize annual event Green Holidays which involves Latvian traditional, folk, ethno music, craftsmanship and sharing knowledge of history and nature’s goods attracting several hundreds participants.

Drabeši Manor House Crafts workshop hosting textile, knitting, pottery, glass painting, kokle- music instrument workshops, also story telling classes, folk group “Ore” and ensemble of kokle players. Participants of Crafts Workshops takes often park in local tourism events. Tourists also like to take part in crafts workshops, for example, creating some small handicraft or wooden whistle. Last year Crafts House together with professional animators created the animation film “Once Upon a Time in Āraiši” where local legends are told, all requisites for filming as well as music was created by children of local school. The film is now used as a part of guided excursion around Āraiši when visiting Crafts studios. Now and then some foren cratsmen stay there and work on some art work. For instance recently Jordi from Spain was creating there fire sculpture Asterolabia for ethno festival “Sviests”

Āraiši Lutheran Church with its current look from 18th century where nominated for its interior reconstruction at “Latvijas Būvniecības gada balvas 2017” (Latvian Building Awards 2017). The Church is open and accessible at any daytime.

Āraiši Windmill majestically stands on the hilltop overlooking the lake. Annual Bread Day which celebrated rye dread and its bakers takes place here more than 15 years. It is sincere event where local people come together to help with organization, foreigners love due its sincerity and exposition of Latvian traditions.

Āraiši has been a site of several films but during latest years the sites for three films has been shot: Raitis Ābele, Lauris Ābele “Baltu ciltis” (Baltic Tribes – Last pagans of Europe), Dzinttars Dreibergs “Dvēseļu putenis” ( and Andris Gauja “Nekas mūs neapturēs” (“Nothing will stop us”

Last year local community theatre was established which now expects its premier with place specific  performance “Letti” put together by professional producer Beatrise Zaķe. It tells local stories and acting takes place in several sites of Āraiši, spectators moving from place to place.

ECTN Awards ceremony in Granada, Spain, on 24 October 2019, in partnership with Europa Nostra, ETC & NECSTouR

Good practice:  Legends of Āraiši - storytelling and community based creative tourism

Submitted by Cult-CreaTE lead partner Vidzeme Tourism Association (VTA), selected by the Policy Learning Platform Thematic Expert for the Interreg Europe Good Practice database.