This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Bānītis Festival so let’s find out what the BānītisFestival is about and more importantly – what is the Bānītis?
The end of the 19th century witnessed a renewed boom in railway construction in Latvia. An extensive railway network was built to connect our largest towns and ports with the boomingtrade centers of Europe and Russia and it seemed that this would mark the end of railway construction. However many well-populated, fertile and abundantly wooded regions in Latvia still remained without access to regular rail transport. Constructing broad gauge railways would not be profitable but it would also be unwise to leave these regions with no access to rail transport. And so the local barons had the idea to construct smaller or narrow gauge railways. By World War I almost 300 km of narrow gauge railways had been constructed in the province of Vidzeme; only 33 km still remain today. The other railways were displaced by road transport.
The last regular bānītis service not only in Latvia but the whole of the Baltics runs between Gulbene and Alūksne. In honor of this veteran railway the Bānītis Festival has been held every year since 2000 on the first Saturday in September. During the Festival every participant is given the opportunity to ride in the little wagon and enjoy the scenery of the land of the Bānītis – where the bānītis sleeps, where it is serviced, where it starts its one-and-a-half hour journey daily, the location of the annual market, where the railway employees entertain the festival participants and the location of the bānītis terminal, now already in its fortieth year. Each of these locations or stadions has a unique name: Gulbene, Stāmeriene, Paparde, Alūksne and each of these destinations will bring a host of surprises, treats and entertainment.
We invite you to the festivities that will take place all day in the Land of the Bānītis on 4th September 2010. This year we will have a special train that will take you to the Bānītis Festival – it will leave Rīga at 8.08 and return to Rīga at 23.30.
10:00 - 13:00
Opening of the festival, music, dances, creative workshops for children, pfoto studio,
"Station buffet" and other cheerful attractions.
11:00 - 24:00
Festival bazaar, music bands, mimes and other different artists.
Green and railway style performances, porrige and other sensational surprises only for narrow - gauge passengers.
15:30 - 01:00
Driving with handcar, music, dances and brass band concert, Riga playwrights theatre, music group "Borowa MC", performances by amateur collectives and the festival party.
If you wish to participatein the Bānītis festival, please contact to [email protected]