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Guide to culture in Estonia

Estonia's capital, Tallinn, received the title of UNESCO City of Music in November 2021, on top of its UNESCO World Heritage site title given in 1996.

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Music venues in Estonia
Estonia Concert Hall © G. Laak
Estonia Concert Hall
© G. Laak

The Estonia Concert Hall is very much the heart of local classical music scene. Apart from being home to the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, this unique venue also presents its own diverse concert season with prestigious guest artists as well as country’s own talented musicians.

The building itself is a gorgeous example of neoclassical style (architects A. Lindgren / W. Lönn, 1913, reconstructed 1947) and is considered as one of the most prominent cultural landmarks.

Historically, alongside concert activity, most important events are held here, such as Presidetial elections, Independence Day receptions and New Year’s Eve celebrations. 

For more information visit the webpage of the Estonia Concert Hall

Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre

The Concert and Performance Centre of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre combines excellent acoustics and modern technology. Inside the Centre is a large hall, a black box and multifunctional classrooms on the five floors of the new building. The acoustics of the hall were designed by Linda Madalik, the most experienced acoustician in Estonia, together with Danish specialists. The black box's innovative technical solutions are also suitable for the most daring creative projects in the field of music, theatre and other audiovisual arts. The new and modern hall complex of the Academy plays an invaluable role in preparing future musicians and actors.

The grand opening of the new Concert and Performance Centre took place on September 28, 2019, and it also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. 

For more information visit the website of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Arvo Pärt Centre © Tõnu Tunnel
Arvo Pärt Centre

The work of Arvo Pärt has significantly changed our understanding of music and largely influenced the music of the second half of the 20th century everywhere in the world.

This unique building is in line with Arvo’s creative nature and is open to all music enthusiasts.

The goal of Arvo Pärt Centre is to preserve and explore the creative heritage of the composer in Estonia – his home country. The building includes a personal archive, a library, a 150-seat auditorium, an exhibition hall, a video room, and classrooms. Workshops and concerts are organised there as well. 

The guided tour is a good way to explore Arvo Pärt’s manuscripts or listen to his music.

For more information visit the website of the Arvo Pärt Centre.

Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds © Aivar Pihelgas
Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds

Completed in 1960, Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds were the first modern post-war construction to be built in the city. Unique in Europe, they were designed by Alar Kotli, Henno Sepmann and Uno Tölpus. Their design took into account the nature of the land they were to be built on: audiences would be seated on the slope of the hill, so the song arch would need to echo sound to them. 

The Song Festival Grounds are a popular venue for events. It is best known as the place where every 5 years the Song Festival is held, in which nearly 25,000 singers take part, attracting an audience of nearly 100,000. Anyone interested can climb to the top of the tower, which is 42 metres high and from which you can see all the way out over the city and bay. And if you have binoculars with you that are powerful enough, you should be able to see far out into the Gulf of Finland!

For more information visit the website of Talinn's Song Festival.

Music Festivals in Estonia

Mustonen Fest 2023

26 January - 3 February, 2023
Tallinn, Estonia
Artistic Director: Andres Mustonen

MustonenFest is one of the longest-running classical music festivals in Estonia, led by colourful artist Andres Mustonen. The 2023 MustonenFest is based on spirituaal message - compassion and hope, and of course music that expands your horizons.

This year at the festival performed: Sinfonietta Riga, Estonian Philharmonic Choir, Estonian Male Choir, cellist Mario Brunello.

Click here to visit the festival website.

Organiser: Foundation Eesti Kontsert
Contact: tuuli.metsoja@concert.ee

Estonian Music Days 2023

28 April - 07 May, 2023
Tallinn, Tartu and Laulasmaa, Estonia
Artistic Directors: Helena Tulve, Timo Steiner, Märt-Matis Lill

Founded in 1979, Estonian Music Days has been organised by the Estonian Composers’ Union for more than 40 years. A high number of new commissions each year has made it the main festival focusing on Estonian contemporary music. The theme of this year’s festival is ´Soul and Spirit´.

Website of Baltic Music Days / Website of the Estonian Composers Union

Organiser: Estonian Composers’ Union 

Contact: mariliis@helilooja.ee

Haapsalu White Nights Music Festival 2023

15-18 June, 2023
Haapsalu, Estonia
Head of Programming: Tuuli Metsoja

The Haapsalu White Nights Music Festival is the living source of mesmerising music and carefree and romantic vibes of summer vacations. The programme is nuanced, it includes popular Summer Walks, exciting lectures (in Estonian), resort concert and a traditional children’s concert.  

Click here to visit the festival website.

Organiser: Foundation Eesti Kontsert
Contact: tuuli.metsoja@concert.ee

Nargenfestival: Cyrillus Kreek Days

End of May to beginning of June 2023
Haapsalu, Hiiumaa, Saaremaa, Ridala and Tallinn, Estonia
Artistic director: Tõnu Kaljuste

Cyrillus Kreek Days is named after the Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962), one of the most important innovators of Estonian choral music. His work almost entirely consists of the arrangements of Estonian folk music. Nargenfestival has organised the festival since 2007.  

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Lootsi Koda

Contact: tikerpuu@msn.com

Suure-Jaani Music Festival

17-23 June, 2023
Suure-Jaani, Estonia
Artistic Director: Andres Uibo

Founded in 1997 in honour of Estonian composers’ dynasty Kapp, originally from Suure-Jaani, the festival programme embraces primarily Estonian music. In addition to traditional concerts, performances and talks take place. However, the highlight of the festival is always a 3am concert on Hüpassaare bog island.

Click here to visit the festival website.

Contact: kati-kristella.kivisild@pohja-sakala.ee

XVI Tallinn Guitar Festival

10-17 June 2023
Tallinn, Estonia
Artistic Director: Tiit Peterson

Tallinn Guitar Festival is a leading festival of its genre in the Baltic States and a guitar festival with the longest tradition in Northern-Europe, held annually since 2006. Festival has brought together the top guitarists and musicians of all styles and generations, offering memorable concerts at the most emblematic venues of Tallinn. 

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser Tallinn Guitar Festival NGO

Contact: tiitpeterson@hot.ee

30th Rapla Church Music Festival

30 June – 16 July, 2023
Rapla and environs, Estonia
Artistic Director: Pille Lill

Since the beginning in 1993, the Rapla Church Music Festival has focused on the rich heritage of sacral music repertoire. The majority of concerts are performed in churches across the town of Rapla and its environs. The festival also holds a Summer school, which includes master classes for string players, vocalists and conductors.

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Rapla Church Music Festival NGO

Contact: kmf@eelkrapla.ee

Mustjala Festival 2023

25 June – 16 July, 2023
Mustjala, Saaremaa, Estonia
Artistic Director: Aare Tammesalu

The Mustjala Music Festival has enriched Estonias’ cultural life since 1995. The festival presents both classical and jazz music concerts, performed by a variety of Estonian and guest artists. The concerts are held at the most unusual and exotic places on the island of Saaremaa: church venues, the unique Tagaranna fishing village and the former military cannon foxhole on Ninase Peninsula.

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Loovüksus NGO

Contact: aare@tammesalu.ee

The Music of the Seven Cities Festival

1 - 9 July 2023
Ida-Viru county, Estonia
Head of Programming: Piia Tamm

The Music of Seven Cities has become a major summer event in East Estonia, taking place in exciting concert venues of Ida-Viru County. The original idea of the festival – seven days, seven concerts, seven cities – has grown over time. Today, it offers a great range of musical genres to an audience keen to discover unique Estonian cities such as Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Jõhvi, Narva-Jõesuu or Sillamäe.

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Foundation Eesti Kontsert

Contact:  kaisapukk@gmail.com

Festival Glasperlenspiel

6-11 July, 2023
Tartu, Estonia
Artistic Director: Peeter Vähi

The annual crossover classics festival, named after Hermann Hesse’s famous novel Glasperlenspiel (Glass Bead Game), takes place in the university town of Tartu. Over the years, some of the most remarkable international artists have performed at the festival.

Click here to visit the festival website

Producer: Estonian Record Productions (ERP)

Contact: kadri.kiis@erpmusic.com

Pärnu Music Festival

12-21 July, 2023
Pärnu, Estonia
Artistic Director: Paavo Järvi

The Pärnu Music Festival and Järvi Academy were founded by Paavo and Neeme Järvi in 2011, and its family atmosphere creates a unique summer idyll on Estonia’s Baltic coast. The week long festival takes place in the elegant 1,000 seater concert hall, where orchestral music is at the heart of the programming.

Click here to visit the festival website

Contact:  kristjanhallik@yahoo.com

30th Haapsalu Early Music Festival

27-30 July, 2023
Haapsalu, Estonia
Artistic Director: Toomas Siitan

Embraced by the Baltic sea, cozy resort town Haapsalu has become a well-known summer destination for Early Music fans in and outside of Estonia. For 27 years, the Festival has allured its audience to spend a prolonged weekend with top-notch artists from around the world, encompassing concerts from solo recitals to oratorial works, taking place in medieval Dome Church and in the smaller St. John’s Church nearby.  

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Studio Vocale NGO

Contact: toomas.siitan@gmail.com

Saaremaa Opera Festival

25-30 July, 2023
Kuressaare, Saaremaa, Estonia
Artistic Director: Arne Mikk

Saaremaa Opera Festival is the most popular opera festival in the Baltics, held since 1999 in the historic Kuressaare Castle courtyard on the island of Saaremaa, where every summer an opera venue with 2000 seats is set up specially for the festival. Over the years, the festival has hosted acclaimed guest productions from theatres across the world: China, Georgia, Turkey, Russia, Poland, USA etc. In 2023, the featured guest will be the Maria Biesu Moldova National Opera and Ballet. 

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Foundation Eesti Kontsert

Contact: kertu.orro@concert.ee

Birgitta Festival

4-13 August, 2023 
Tallinn, Estonia
Artistic Director: Tõnu Kaljuste

Birgitta Festival has been a musical theater festival taking place in the ruins of Pirita Monastery in Tallinn since 2005. The festival combines the dark charm of a medieval monastery with the last word of modern musical theater.

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Tallinn Philharmonic Society

Contact: fila@filharmoonia.ee

VM Fest Mustvee International Sacred Music Festival 

8-13 August, 2023
Mustvee, Estonia
Artistic Director: Valery Petrov

VM Fest Mustvee is a multicultural festival on the shore of Lake Peipus that brings together the best professional musicians from all over the world.  The small and charming town of Mustvee has five temples of five different Christian confessions, where choral, instrumental and solo concerts are performed. 

Click here to visit the festival website

Contact: valery@orthodoxsingers.com

XII Pühalepa Music Festival

3-6 August, 2023
Pühalepa, Hiiumaa, Estonia
Artistic Director: Endrik Üksvärav

X Pühalepa Music Festival takes place from 3-6 August on the island of Hiiumaa. It focuses on early music and contemporary works, including music by Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, born in Hiiumaa. Tüür´s music always holds a special place in the festival programme. Main venues are Pühalepa and Kärdla church. 

Click here to visit the festival website

Organiser: Kerema Kultuurikoda NGO

Contact: endirigent@gmail.com

XIX Tallinn Chamber Music Festival

23-30 August, 2023
Tallinn, Estonia
Artistic Director: Maano Männi

The Tallinn Chamber Music Festival, founded in 2005, has become a major summer classical music event in Estonia’s capital. Its programme includes the most outstanding Estonian artists alongside many well-known international guest performers. Concerts take place in various historical venues at the UNESCO World Heritage site - the medieval Tallinn Old Town.

Click here to visit the festival website.

Organiser: Muusikute Täiendõppe Keskus NGO

Contact: plmf@plmf.ee

Nargenfestival: Arvo Pärt Days

2-11 September 2023
Concert venues across Estonia 
Artistic Director: Tõnu Kaljuste  

Founded in 2010, the Arvo Pärt Days festival takes place in early September across Estonia and it always ends on Arvo Pärt’s birthday on 11th September. Festival programme comprises of mainly the choral and orchestral works by Pärt, as well as the works by other composers whose music resonates with Pärt, both spiritually and musically. The award-winning international and local ensembles, choirs and artists are regular performers at the festival.

Click here to visit the festival website.

Organiser: Lootsi Koda

Contact: tikerpuu@msn.com

Pärnu International Opera Music Festival „PromFest“

10-15 September, 2023
Pärnu, Estonia
Artistic Director: Erki Pehk

PromFest is the most unique opera music festival in Estonia, because the entire festival program is entirely created by the organizers themselves, not by combining existing projects (productions) as in normal practice festival programs are prepared. As part of PromFest, the only international competition for young opera singers takes place in Estonia.

Click here to visit the festival website.

Contact: info@promfest.ee

International Accordion Festival „Accordionfest“

20-28 October 2023
Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia 
Artistic Director: Momir Novakovic  

A Festival dedicated to the accordion. Several World premieres, theatric performances, CD release, guest artists from 11 countries, and many interesting music contrasts will bring a lot of excitement

Click here to visit the festival website.

Organiser: MTÜ Accordionfest

Contact: info@accordionfest.ee