Explore Estonian Culture

Last updated 21.10.2016

Explore Estonian Culture

Source: Visit Estonia

Estonia has a rich cultural heritage of folk song and dance, colourful handicrafts, wooden saunas and rustic food. Experience the traditional and modern sides of Estonian culture first hand at these markets, workshops, museums and festivals.

Historical traditions

Rakvere Castle

The castle in Rakvere dates back as early as the 13th century.
Photo by: Mats Õun

Estonia has had its own distinct culture for thousands of years. In medieval times, the streets of Tallinn were buzzing with merchants, conducting trade to the far corners of Europe. Check out the Bastion Passages and Tallinn City Museum to see how life in old Tallinn was. Rakvere, Kuressaare and Narva also have fortresses the whole family will love. For an even more ancient tradition, visit a wood sauna like at Saunaküla (Sauna Village), where you can cleanse your body and mind like Estonians have for centuries.

Expressive song and dance

Soaring dancers

In the 2014 Tallinn Song and Dance Festival, 43,107 people performed. The next festival will be held in 2019.
Photo by: Marko Mumm

Estonia has one of the largest known repertoires of folk songs in the world. They demonstrate the poetic and age-old beauty of the Estonian language and are often accompanied by dances. The Tallinn Song Festival is the ultimate place to hear Estonian folk choirs, but is held only once very five years. In the meantime, check out the Youth Song and Dance Festival, 2017 or any of the annual song and dance festivals taking place all over Estonia. Another example of Estonian folklore is Kalevipoeg, Estonia's national epic, which tells the story of a young man who battles foes and becomes King of Estonia. Visit to the Kalevipoeg Museum to learn about the tale and its connections to real places in Estonia.

Hands-on handicrafts

Bright designs

Eye catching designs from Kihnu Island are known for their orange, pink and yellow hues.
Photo by: Visit Estonia 

The Estonian aesthetic is vibrant, yet earthy and practical and can be seen in all kinds of crafts, from woodwork to textiles. Estonian national clothes are made of a striped, woven wool and colour combinations are indicative of the county, while baskets To try making your own creations, attend a workshop at the Estonian Open Air Museum or Avinurme 'Way Of Life' Centre. At the Maarja Magdalena Guild in Pärnu you can attend workshops or buy pieces from local artists. The Estonian Applied Art and Design Museum showcases modern items from Estonian designers where traditional influence is apparent. 

Last updated 21.10.2016
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