Courses, workshops and simple try-it-yourself activities take place all over Estonia in public creative incubators, fairs and galleries.
We’ve listed few of our favourites below, but there are many more interesting options available. As Estonians are quite reserved in their nature, do not hesitate to ask for the craftsperson when you see a beautiful piece of handicraft: most of them are happy to pass on the skills. Local Tourism Information Centres throughout Estonia will provide you with the best information about courses, trainings and workshops in the area.
Courses, workshops and trainings for groups, especially in languages other than Estonian, all need to be pre-booked: Your local tourism information officer can help you with that.
*Creative Incubators are a form of Business Incubators in Estonia, grouping together and encouraging artists in building a creative business for their artwork. They are usually open for public and serve as galleries, too.
In or near Tallinn:
Right in the heart of Tallinn city centre, in the new renovated Rotermann quarter, is the Rotermanni Creative Centre (Rotermanni Loovuskeskus), a public gallery for several artists. Learn how to handle wool, do woodwork, design jewellery,make clay sculptures or even build furniture. You are welcome to walk in and chat to the artists, whenever the door is open, you are welcomed.
Kalev candy-shop in the same Rotermann quarter organizes regular marzipan painting and chocolate making courses for groups and individuals. Just as appetising are chocolate and truffle making workshops in one of the best known chocolateries in Estonia, Anneli Viik café.
Anneli Viik, probably the best known and loved chocolate artist, organizes chocolate and truffle making courses in her chocolaterie in Tallinn Old Town. Her truffles have represented Estonia all over the world and are said to be addictive.
Right nearby is also the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, where you can learn the ancient tradition of making paper.
Glass-studio Annkris, located close to the city centre, organizes short term courses for people interested in glass art, mainly teaching fusing, slumping and stained glass techniques.
Travelling to the islands:
Historic Kuressaare is an ideal destination for luxury and scenery loving families – historic settings, beautiful beaches, fabulous spas, golfing and different festivals attract many visitors. Combine your island trip with learning new skills – making organic soaps from natural materials at the GoodKaarma soap farm or visiting the Kuressaare castle and learning about the art of blacksmiths and glass making.
Neighbouring Muhu island that connects Saaremaa to the mainland through ferries, is well known for its distinct islander culture, beautiful fisherman villages and the luxurious Pädaste manor. Be sure to visit the ostrich farms and Namaste Culinary farm to perfect your skills in the kitchen: Pädaste and Namaste are known for their high standard cooking courses, enabling you to gain something for the mind as well as the body!
Central and Southern Estonia:
The small town of Viljandi has a bohemian vibe – no wonder, as this is the heart, body and soul of traditional folk culture in Estonia. Visitors to the various folk festivals and fairs, including the annual Folk Music Festival in Viljandi, can try their hand at various handicrafts from knitting to learning a traditional Estonian musical instrument.
It’s not a problem, if your travel plans do not match the fair schedule, the Bonifatius Guild can teach you the art of sewing. Come and make your own personal, one-of-a-kind handbag, design jewellery or prepare gifts for friends and family.
Olustvere Ceramics House is a part of the beautiful Olustvere manor complex close to Viljandi. In addition to regular clay and sculpting courses they organize, Olustvere ceramics artists travel frequently to different fairs and festivals throughout Estonia to sell their work and teach the skills.
Pärnu is the summer capital of Estonia. It has long white sand beaches, small cafés, a vibrant nightlife and plenty of galleries and art that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. An old saying also claims that in Pärnu, anyone and everyone can become an artist. Local and innovative artists have formed a group Maarja Magdaleena Guild.
If you would like a break from the vibrant nightlife and fast pulse of the city, be sure to head to Soomaa National park in Pärnu county. Known for its bogs, canoeing and wild nature, Soomaa is also one of the few places in the world where you can learn the ancient tradition of carving dugouts (“haabjas” in Estonian). Expanding the hollowed log-boat – “magic of water and fire” – is usually a free and public event and involves enchanting, ancient spells and rituals to provide a unique and unforgettable experience for all participants.
The historic university town Tartu in southern Estonia is filled with students during autumn and winter and is an ideal location for admiring architecture, café culture and art scene during summer. Participate in the numerous courses organized by Tartu Antonius Guild from felting to pottery or take your kids to the toy museum Mänguasjamuuseum, where children are taught the secrets of movie making.
Peipsi lake (and Pihkva lake) creates the main border between Estonia and Russia. Visit the old believers villages by the lake, try local onion and fish and take part in building a Peipsi barge (“lodi” and “lodja” in Estonian) – a unique single mast sailing boat. As a part of the barge-building experience, you will learn how to make ropes, tar (and how to tar a boat properly), ironwork and of course woodwork.
The Avinurme Lifestyle Centre in the Eastern Estonia houses a museum and permanent exhibition about life and wood work in local villages and organizes regular courses, workshops and trainings for textile work, carpentry and special tastings and training for traditional cuisine.
Most of places mentioned here teach courses and organize workshops in various languages but to ensure you get the most out of your experience, pre-book and check the language availability beforehand. Do not hesitate to drop by the local Tourism Information Centre for tips, advice and assistance!