With snowy Medieval spires and winding, cobbled streets, the Nordic country of Estonia is the most enchanting destination for a festive break. Candles and fairy lights decorate windows, mulled wine is served in cozy cafes, and a host of special seasonal events and attractions – both in Tallinn and across the country – make the festive season in Estonia one to remember.
What to do
The world-famous Tallinn Christmas Market is an absolute must-see during a festive visit, taking place in the medieval Town Hall Square from the middle of November until the first week of January. The action takes place around a tall, sparkling Christmas tree which has been set up in the square since 1441, making it the first to be displayed in Europe. Santa and his reindeer greet children and a program of special events run throughout. Every year, the Tallinn Christmas Market offers traditional Christmas goods from black blood pudding and sour cabbage to ginger breads and hot Christmas drinks. Visitors can enjoy local food and drink while browsing the stalls of handmade gifts and enjoying one of the many performances from local dancers and singers.
Tartu Christmas Fair. The Tartu Christmas Fair has come to be the largest Christmas fair in Estonia. The beautifully decorated city center of Tartu will host almost 200 merchants, who will give visitors the opportunity to enjoy traditional food and drink, buy organic and ecological products, cosmetic and health products, handicraft and jewellery, clothes, animal exhibitions and Christmas Land.
Christmas Jazz is a multi-week collection of concerts by international artists in intimate venues such as churches, concert halls and clubs across Tallinn taking place taking place from November 28 to December 15.
Kumu, the Art Museum of Estonia, is an impressive modern artwork and was awarded the European Museum of the Year in 2008. During the winter the museum holds many art exhibitions and Christmas time concerts and performances.
Learn about rural life at the Estonian Open Air Museum with a special winter program including a Christmas Village and Holiday Weeks with handicrafts, bread baking, wood chopping and more.
Christmas hike in South-Estonia. On every year's Christmas Day, 25th December a group of enthusiasts conquer 20 highest* peaks of South-Estonian hills. The 7 to 10 hours walk on a 25km trail gains new friends every time.
Charity Christmas Run in Narva. Narva is a historical city on Estonia's eastern border and hosts an annual Charity Christmas Run in Christmas costume.
Tallinn Christmas tree
The famous Christmas legend that the first Christmas tree was brought to Tallinn in 1441. This tree is the main attraction of the Tallinn Christmas Market.
Every year, the most beautiful Christmas tree in Estonia is selected by tender, which has the honor to become a central element of the market.
Dinner in Estonia over the festive season is steeped in tradition and something not to be missed. Estonian food, traditional or modern, changes throughout the year, with each season boasting its own unique flavours. The winter brings a range of hearty dishes. At a genuine Estonian Christmas dinner, you'll find jellied meat (sült in Estonian), beetroot salad, herring, roast potatoes and pork, sauerkraut, Christmas bread, black pudding with pickled pumpkin and lingonberry jam.
Traditional home-made beer has been replaced by dark porter that goes well with a roast. Few know that the porter-type beer is also excellent for desserts, especially chocolate treats. In recent years the craft beer scene in Estonia has exploded. Estonian breweries are quickly setting themselves apart on the international stage due to their high-quality products and modern approach to traditional, Estonian flavours. Raise a glass and say Terviseks (cheers)!
Traditional Estonian desserts often include kringel, a pretzel-shaped sweet bread and delicious buns, served with whipped cream, that are great after a day of skiing or sledging.