The Estonian Song and Dance festival
The Estonian Song Celebration, a UNESCO listed treasure, had its 150th anniversary this year. I was able to go and witness myself the opening ceremony for the celebration, along with all the performances that day. Keeping in mind that there’s only a little over one million Estonians, it was spectacular to see at least hundred thousand at the song festival grounds in the middle of the capital, Tallinn.
This event is a particularly important aspect of Estonia’s culture, as it has marked their independence from occupying forces several times. One such occasion was during the soviet occupation in 1990 (one year before independence), where they sang the Estonian anthem, that was banned at that time. The anthem is played on every occasion since. The singing festival grounds is also the location of the 1988 singing revolution.*
In addition to the singing festival, dancing performances have been added the days before the song festival starts. Patterns in which people dance are all somehow related to Estonia, the clothing of dancers are traditional folk clothes, of which every Estonian seems to own a few, and the music accompanying the dances is of course, also Estonian. Every aspect of these celebrations holds the essence of Estonia, a country of many rich traditions, largely unknown for most of the world. For this reason, the events are captivating to witness and take part of.
The events of the week of the celebration follow as such:
1st day (4th of July):
7pm-9:30pm: first dance performance – appr. 10.000 dancers perform
2nd day (5th of July):
11am-1:30 pm: second dance performance
6pm-8:30 pm: third dance performance
3nd day (6th of July):
Starting at 1pm: 5km long festive procession in the streets of Tallinn, ending at the festival grounds. All the participants of the song and dance celebration will take part in the procession.
From 7pm to appr. 10:30 pm: Opening concert, speeches, and musical performances
4th day (7th of July):
From 2pm to appr. 8:30pm: Different types of choirs will take the stage one by one. Many of the songs are sang by the audience too.
For more information, this is the official site of the song and dance celebration: https://2019.laulupidu.ee/en/song-celebration/