Special Christmas trees, town squares, Christmas offers all over Estonia

Source: Katri, Flickr

Special Christmas trees, town squares, Christmas offers all over Estonia

Advent and Christmas time is worth spending in Estonia. Historians notably claim that while the first public Christmas tree was erected in front of the Town Hall in Berlin in 1780, in London around 1840, and in Paris in 1865, the reports of a tree in front of the Tallinn Town Hall date back to 1441. This means that Estonia’s tradition of erecting a public Christmas tree is one of the oldest, if not the oldest in the world.

Every year, the Tallinn Old Town tree keeps the traditions alive and stands proudly in the middle of the fairytale-like Christmas market, which has also won the title of the best Christmas market in Europe. It can be half-jokingly said that the title of the country of the oldest Christmas tree can also be wearisome, which means that each year, resourceful Estonians have ideas on how to make Christmas more exciting, as well as how to reinterpret traditions and the message of the holidays. Here are some of the best ideas of this year – travel around Estonia and take a look!

Christmas hoops on Võru Town Square

Completed this year, the Central Square of Võru is proudly decorated for Christmas for the first time. The spruce tree is surrounded by large light hoops that shine beautifully in the dark and of course refer to the name of Võru (which means hoop in English).

Be sure to follow the weather information regarding snow, because Võru County is almost designed for skiing with its varied terrain and a persistent snow cover, compared to the rest of Estonia!

Fishing net Christmas tree of the Onion Route

The single street villages along Lake Peipus that belong to the chain of meandering villages called the Onion Route (Sibulatee) are creative and devoted to recycling. Go see how an old fish trap has gained a whole new wonderful purpose! You will find the Onion Route Christmas tree directly on the shore of Lake Peipus in Varnja village near the Mesi Tare guesthouse.

If you announce your arrival in the area, you can arrange an enjoyable day, which includes a tea ceremony at the Mesi Tare guesthouse, a Christmas craft workshop at the Lake Peipus Visitor Centre with chicory cake and coffee, a tour and an hour of wine tasting at Alatskivi Manor.

Christmas city Village of Light in Tartu

This year there are yet again 19 pavilions in the Village of Light, the design (that received the annual award of the Estonian Landscape Architects' Union) of which should be familiar from earlier years. Two of the most exciting light experiences are the mirrored greenhouse that transforms into a shiny cobweb with the use of ultraviolet lights and mirrors, as well as a solstice light installation. A video projection on the facade of two houses on the Town Hall Square every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night will help you to get into the spirit of Christmas. The wonderful food pavilions of Taste Hanseatica as well as the farmer’s market and cafe of Liivimaa Maitsed (Flavours of Livonia) are open.

Pärnu silver spruce and Christmas village

For many years, the summer capital of Estonia has had the tradition of erecting spruces gifted by its residents. The Independence Square of Pärnu is adorned with a 12 m silver spruce, which the owner wanted to fell but offered to their hometown as a Christmas tree. On the last weekend before Christmas, the Christmas village with its Christmas market and entertainment program will open its doors for the first time.

There will be a light show called “Papa Walgus” taking place at the Independence Square on the building at Ringi 3; it is an epic tale that uses rap music to bring itself from hundreds of years ago into today through music and light. The performances take place on 20 and 21 December at 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00. On the same days, the Christmas village is open on the square, where the Christmas market will also take place this year. Those who are not able to come to Pärnu to see the light show and visit the Christmas village are welcome to spend the New Year in Pärnu.

Wood block elves in Kuressaare

Around the Kuressaare Christmas tree, there are wood block elves with red hats lined up. If you really need it, you can take one hat with you. Many of the wood block elves are recycled, made from old electric poles.

After the Christmas season, when Kuressaare’s spruce has been installing the holiday spirit in people for almost two months and the spruce is being removed, the local manufacturer Lahhentagge will be once again making a tonic from spruce needles. The spruce’s trunk becomes the heart of Kuressaare’s Midsummer Day’s fire.

It is worth enjoying a good meal in winter on Saaremaa island – there are eight restaurants in Kuressaare and one on Muhu island, in Pädaste that have received the recognition of the White Guide, a highly acclaimed restaurant guide in the Nordic countries.

However, you can admire a truly alternative spruce near the newly opened Alternative History Museum of Thule Koda. This is a bathtub spruce, also called Spaaremaa spruce and for a reason – Kuressaare is definitely one of the cities in the world that has an impressive number of spas per capita.

Rakvere light tunnel and magical forest

Rakvere's Central Square is decorated with a gorgeous spruce, 3D installations and lighting solutions. In the city, local produce is sold during Christmas time. The winter and Christmas spirit is also upheld by the skating rink in the Sports Hall and the Magic Castle on Vallimägi, where children are greeted by wizards, elves and other fairy-tale characters. On 27 December at 19:00, there will be a unique opportunity to listen to a concert by the sextet of the British Royal Court, the Queen’s Six. Coming straight from Windsor Castle, the musical ensemble gives its only tour in Estonia in the Rakvere Church of the Trinity.

Viljandi streetlight tree

One of the symbols of Christmas in Viljandi is the unique Christmas tree of made of streetlights, lighting the city for the second year in a row. The reason for it was the replacement of the city’s streetlights last year when old sodium-vapor lamps were replaced by new LED lamps. The tree, cleverly following the idea of recycling, has quickly become a symbol of Christmas in Viljandi.

When travelling to admire Viljandi’s tree, you should definitely enjoy the cosy cafes of Viljandi and visit the Christmas concerts at the Estonian Traditional Music Centre as well as in St. Paul’s and St. John's Church.

Viljandi streetlight tree

Photo by: Silver Tõnisson

Väätsa Christmas display windows

The whole community has created a Christmas feel in Väätsa, turning the numerous windows of the community centre into true Christmas display windows. Last year there were six windows decorated, now there are as many as 30. The special thing about this year is that many display windows are also set in motion.

While the purpose of the display windows was originally to connect the locals while they created something special, then now they are a special tourist attraction that is not available elsewhere in Estonia. After you have had enough of admiring the windows, you can also visit the nearby Estonian Bicycle Museum

Viimsi container tree

The Viimsi residents have managed to get artist Teet Suur, who has thus far worked in Rakvere and gained international recognition for his unique spruce projects, to change their public space. This year's tree installation is based on plastic containers and is co-authored by all residents of Viimsi who have collected window cleaning liquid canisters.

In the daytime you will see one type of “spruce” and in the evening a different one with a special light installation. After their aesthetic use, the containers will be recycled.

The work of the artist, who has attracted the attention of the international media before, is this time covered by Euronews.

In addition to Viimsi spruce, there is plenty to see and do in the area: spas, many restaurants, outdoor activities, the Open Air Museum. Take a look!

Christmas trees for animals

In many cities this year the spruces are decorated with animals in mind: on the spruce you can find pictures/descriptions of cats and dogs hoping to find a good home for Christmas. Anyone who yearns for a pet does not need to look around for a high-priced pedigree animal but can instead find a friend from the spruce who is perfect for them, get in touch, and get more information about the animal.

Christmas trees for animals are located in eight cities: in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi, Rakvere, Võru, Valga and Kuressaare. The purpose of these special spruces is to remind people of animal shelters and animals that need a new home.

This great idea came from the members of the Estonian Veterinary Student Society who visited shelters to photograph animals and wrote descriptions of the animals together with the shelter.

Tree for animals looking for a home

Photo by: Claudia Gross

Tallinn’s special trees

In Tallinn, you should not only stop at the beautiful Town Hall Square but also visit other places. For example, art students have erected a ghost tree in a shopping centre, and Rotermann's cosy pedestrian quarter surprises with a spruce forest consisting of as many as 150 little trees!

In St. Nicholas Church, an elaborate spruce with its paradise motifs brings Christmas warmth, and the birds are also represented on the tree of the brand new Noblessner quarter. Both spruces are decorated by Shishi, whose store is also located in Noblessner. Take a stroll in the city, notice and enjoy!

Read more about Tallinn’s trees.

Last updated : 20.12.2019