The priority of the culture sector of Smiltene region is the Latvian identity and the preservation of the Song and Dance festival traditions. Smiltene county is one of the most Latvian counties, not only in terms of the ethnicity of the population, but also in terms of strengthening the Latvian identity and sense of belonging.
Smiltene county is a place with bright celebrations and incredible daring. A place where there are exceptionally talented people who participate in cultural processes, thereby improving themselves, Latvian nations and Europe as a whole. Cultural traditions in the Smiltene county are honored through an always active cultural life – folk dances, choirs, acting and crafts. Currently, a total of 42 different amateur art collectives operate in the region, with more than 720 participants involved. The active involvement of the population in amateur arts significantly strengthens the Latvian identity of the population, ensuring the preservation of the traditions of the General Song and Dance Festival.
The art of dance – the joy of dancing has always reigned on Smiltene’s side. This is confirmed by the large number of folk dance groups with life-long traditions. Today, more than 10 traditional dance groups, several modern dance groups, senior European dance groups, as well as line dance groups are active in the region. Smiltene region can be proud of creative and talented dancers who honor the culture of Latvian folk dances, songs and folk costumes.
Folk dance groups: JDK “Buki” and VPDK “Ieviņa” in Smiltene town, JDK “Atspēriens” Blomes, JDK “Rieda” and VPD “Rieda” Grundzāles, VPDK “Cīrulis” Palsmanes and VPDK “Varis” in Variņu parish, Children’s dance collective “Mazais kastanītis”, preschool dance collective “Vidējais kastanītis” and folk dance collective “Kastanītis” from Gaujiena, youth dance collective “Trejdeviņi” in Rauna, middle generation dance collective “Virši” in Vireši, middle generation folk dance collective “Metenis” in Ape , 2.-6. class folk dance group “Nebēdnieki”, preschool folk dance group “Mazie Nebēdnieki”, children’s folk dance group “Nebēdiņa” (3-5 years) in Ape.
Senior dance groups: “Papardes” im Blome, “Vējiem līdzi” in Branti, “Smiltesele” – Smiltene and a dance group in Palsmanes parish, Senior ladies’ dance group “Sinda” in Gaujiena, ladies’ dance group “Kņopienes.lv” in Rauna, Senior ladies’ dance group “Vīgrieze” in Ape.
Line dance groups: “Kantrī ritmi” in Branti, “Forever live” in Smiltenes, “Let’s dance” in Palsmane and “Spriksteles” in Variņu parish, Line dance group “Stand up” in Gaujiena, Line dance group “Īstās meitenes” in Ape.
Choir art – the cultural life of Smiltene has long been rich in choral singing traditions. Currently, the mixed youth choir “Lido” is active, which is one of the best youth choirs in Latvia. The mixed choir “Vidzemīte” has been operating since 1981 and during its activity has participated in all Song Festivals in Riga and the surrounding area, as well as performed abroad. The mixed choir “Pakalni” has been successfully operating since 1995, participated in the XXVII, XXIII, XXIV Latvian Dance and Song Festivals, performed several times abroad. The senior mixed choir “Mežabele” is also meritorious, while in 2018 the mixed choir of the Smiltene district Culture Center “LidoJums”, the mixed choir of Rauna “Rauna”, the Trapene Women’s choir “Trapene”, the mixed choir of Apes district “Ape” started their work in 2018.
Amateur theaters – theater art has a long history in Smiltene region. The first theater performances took place in 1870, with local teachers and farmers playing the roles. In 1945, the drama ensemble of the House of Culture started its work, from which the Smiltene People’s Theater was established in 1966, which is the pride and honor of the Smiltene region. Amateur theater collectives are active in almost every parish – “Cik Jaudas” in Grundzāles, “Mēris” in Bilska, “Nenolaid rumpi” in Blome, “Randiņš” in Palsmanes and “Sandals” in Brantu parish, Amateur theater “Kaķu nams” from Gaujiena, Amateur theater “Kurmis” in Trapene , amateur theater “Vireši”, amateur theater of Bilska parish Birzuļi tautas nama, Apes dramatic group “DUCIS”.
Vocal ensembles – the following vocal ensembles operate in the county: “Simply Joy” of Grundzāles Parish, “Idvesma” of the Culture Center of Smiltene County, “Anemones” in Launkalne Parish, “Ieklausies” and “Herakleum” in Blome Parish, Men’s and Women’s Vocal Ensemble from Gaujiena, Drustu Women’s Vocal ensemble “Dienvidvēja”, Women’s vocal ensemble “Noktirne”, Trio “Mondo”, SAC “Trapene” senior ensemble “Pīlādzis”, Musical association “Atmoda”, Men’s vocal ensemble “Runči” and Mixed vocal ensemble “Sonnet” from Trapene, Virešu Women’s Vocal Ensemble, Children’s Vocal Ensemble “Atspole” in Vireši, Apes Women’s Vocal Ensemble, Apes Older Generation Women’s Vocal Ensemble “Song Life”, Kapela “Ope”, Children and Youth Vocal Group in Ap.
Folklore group – Folklore group of the Culture Center of Smiltene region “Rudzupuķe”. Participates in local and international festivals, conducts traditions, alignment, cross and burial rituals, maintains traditions and honors of the Latvian people, conducts and teaches Latvian dances and games. Always supports events aimed at promoting the traditional culture of our people.
Brass Band – the Smiltene City Brass Band is working with great success. Its composition consists of past and present students of the Smiltene Music School, as well as the Ape brass band.
Applied art – in order to promote interest in learning about, preserving and increasing the cultural heritage of the Latvian people, to unite generations and different social strata, the Folk Applied Art Studio “Smiltene” was established in 1947, which is still successfully operating today. Variņu parish applied art studio and Blome parish needlework and weaving group “Blumenhof”, “Dari pats” amateur group in Drusti, Rauna parish weavers’ group “Drellis” are also currently operating.
Smiltene County can also boast of several Latvian recognized and favourite groups of musicians: „Apvedceļš”, „Mākoņstūmēji”, „Kreisais pagrieziens”, “The missing”, “Propellers”.