The opening ceremony of Riga-2014 "European Capital of Culture" was held here Friday at Latvia's National Opera, kicking off a series of cultural events and exhibitions due for a whole year. According to the organizing committee, about 200 cultural and artistic activities will be held nationwide during the period. As the European capital of culture, the Latvian capital will be a stage for shows and performances of cultural and arts groups from different countries. The opening celebration will last for two days with all sorts of recreational and cultural activities, such as Wagner's opus "Rienzi," the exhibition "Amber through the ages," music concert "Riga resounds," parade of light. Afterwards, the activities will be moved to the city of Sigulda, where winter carnival will reach the apogee. The "European Capital of Culture" project was initiated by the European Union with the aim to promote cultural exchanges between EU member states and cities, and strengthen dialogue between European and other world cultures. The EU Council for Education, Youth and Culture designated in 2010 Riga as the 2014 European capital of culture, along with Sweden's northern city Umea. Next year, the baton will be passed to the Belgian city Mons and the Czech Republic city Pilsen.