Tartu becomes the European Capital of Culture

Nestled in South Estonia’s forests lies Tartu, the country’s second-largest city, known as Estonia‘s cultural capital since the University of Tartu was founded in 1632. This sustainable city has a collegiate soul and oozes small-town charm with neighborhoods of wooden buildings and lively cafe culture. 

Now Estonia’s best-kept secret is in the spotlight because Tartu is the 2024 European Capital of Culture. Hundreds of exciting events will take place in Tartu and around southern Estonia: innovative workshops, art exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and theater performances. The festivities start on January 26 with an opening day festival. This year is definitely the time to visit: National Geographic Traveler is calling Tartu one of the 30 most exciting destinations to visit in 2024! 

Read on for our top picks on Tartu’s 2024 program! 

If you like to party… 

Locals from Tartu and South Estonia will gather with visitors from further away to celebrate their corner of the world, all year long. 

  • 19-20 April — reivkom x blackbox x tartu 2024: Immerse yourself in Tartu’s rave culture. 
  • May, one week after Eurovision — Kissing Tartu: Listen to the best-known songs from the Eurovision Song Contest while spreading the love with a massive public kiss! 
  • 12-18 August — Tartu Pride: 2024 is the first year that gay marriage is legal in Estonia. 

If you like spending time outdoors… 

There are many options for experiencing South Estonia’s Great Outdoors in new and exciting ways, including guided hikes, canoe trips, and bike rides. 

  • 4-5 May — Koidukoor/Dawn Chorus: This multi-day event features listening tours, a sound camp, and a global livestreaming of the sounds of the Estonian landscape at dawn.  
  • 5-15 June — Arts of Survival Creative Nature Festival: Discover local biodiversity, reflect on the connections between nature and culture, and view art inspired by nature.  
  • 31 August — The hidden treasures of Lake Ähijärv: Karula National Park hosts this event where you can fish like a local, taste local foods, and try out many other outdoor activities. 

If you want to experience the culture of South Estonia… 

These events explore Estonian traditions that may have their roots in the past, yet have grown and changed over time to suit the present.  

  • 25-26 May — Räpina Good Home Days: The community of Räpina will share its building traditions and open the Räpina Horticultural School to local and international guests during this home design and culture celebration.  
  • 31 May-2 June — Festival Kaera-Jaan: Held in the Vooremäe hills of Kastre, visitors can walk along a trail of magical sculptures in a family-friendly environment and visit a folk fair with surprise performers. 
  • 20 July — Tõrva Loits: A spectacle of fire and water combines light and video effects to explore Mulgi and Estonian culture.  
  • 24-25 August — Night Folk Dance Festival: Actors and dancers from Saare, Viru, Harju, Võru and Seto counties gather to celebrate Võru’s 240th birthday. 

Explore the entire Tartu 2024 program! 

Things to consider before traveling

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Some tips to consider while traveling

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