Weekend of music

Source: Diana Pashkovich

Weekend of music

Written by:

Stuart Garlick
Tallinn-based journalist and blogger


Many people who make the decision to visit Estonia do so for events like Tallinn's world-renowned Christmas market, or to enjoy the summer sun. However it's well worth experiencing Tallinn Music Week, one of the most exciting showcase music festivals in Europe, but also the host of huge variety of other forms of entertainment that you really ought to check out! Allow us to show you what we mean.

City stage

Free pop-up concerts and special sets by festival acts in unexpected locations from cafés and galleries to design studios and private homes.

Photo by: Tõnu Tunnel

Beginning in 2009, Tallinn Music Week has consistently surprised and amazed, showing the world that this small country has a lot to offer music and the arts, while launching hundreds of acts who have since found great commercial and critical success. The roll-call of winners of TMW's annual prize for best act is impressive. The award known as the Skype Award until 2014, and then the Wire Prize in 2015, has been won by Popidiot (2009), Iiris (2010), Ewert and the Two Dragons (2011), Talbot (2012), Elephants From Neptune (2013), Odd Hugo (2014), and Maarja Nuut (2015). Ewert and his band are currently something of a hipsters' choice around Europe thanks to their catchy brand of indie-folk-pop, while Duran Duran legend Simon le Bon has said publicly that he wants to collaborate with Nuut, a brilliant violinist who uses effects in a truly original way.

It's not just about the generous array of concerts, all over Tallinn, which show the Estonian capital at its best and brightest, giving visitors the chance to explore some of the coolest bars, cafes and theatres. The TMW Conference has brought music-industry discussions on all topics, from the future of radio right through to an annual staple where up-and-coming musical talents will submit their demo recordings for a panel of music experts to judge. Guest speakers have included Russian art-punk rebels Pussy Riot, former Yardbirds, Marc Bolan and Wham! manager Simon Napier-Bell, and Saint Etienne member-turned-music historian Bob Stanley.

Talks, Tastes and craft beer

TMW pop-up restaurant

The festival's popular hotspot TMW pop-up restaurant will open its doors in Design and Architecture Gallery.

Photo by: Tõnu Tunnel

This year, it's not just about the music. Free public discussions will be held on music, plus also technology, science and many other intriguing topics, taking place in some of Tallinn's coolest and cosiest cafes. All of the discussions are arranged in a way that encourages you to get involved, and they're all in English.

If you prefer to eat, rather than talk, be our guest. TMW Tastes, from 28th March to 3rd April, is a new addition to the award-winning festival, involving Tallinn's leading restaurants, all of which have designed special menus to attract and excite new diners from around the world. Eateries which have long been known as go-to places for a great dining experience, such as Fabrik, Mimosa, Noa and NOP, are promising something a bit new and exciting for the period of Tallinn Music Week. Our advice: book early and visit as many restaurants and cafes as possible, to get an idea of what is meant by "New Nordic" cuisine.

Local brewers Põhjala are also hosting Tallinn Craft Beer weekend on 1st and 2nd April as part of TMW Tastes - this celebration of Estonia's thriving home-grown beer industry is the first international craft brewing event in Estonia. Head over to tcbw.ee to get your pass for this exciting look at the infinite tastes available in a bottle.

Art and design to remember

Design market in Kultuurikatel

Nordic design is on sale in one of Tallinn's most intriguing venues. Kultuurikatel is an early 20th century power plant turned creative hub. 

Photo by: Marek Metslaid

Lovers of exclusive items, whether they be fashion, interior design or anything else, should head to the two-day Design Market in Tallinn's impressive Kultuurikatel, a former factory near the coast that has become a favourite venue for parties, markets and exhibitions. You'll find a display of the best in Estonian and Nordic design on 2nd and 3rd April.

Don't just head to the usual shops - take time to peruse the selection of clothing, accessories, bags, ceramics, home furnishings, illustrations, eco-cosmetics, textiles, children's wear and far more. Designers from Estonia Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Sweden will be on-hand to talk through their creative process, or you can just shop until you drop, in the knowledge that you're getting something new and cool, and it's possible no-one back home will have the same item as you!

There's something for art fans too: Estonia, thanks to Tallinn's Kumu museum, is well-known as a haven for revolutionary art. From 29th March to 3rd April, Tallinn's best galleries in collaboration with the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Centre (ECADC), are giving everyone the chance to meet with some of the most exciting and controversial names on the Estonian and international art scenes. Participating galleries will throw their doors open for free, while museums will let you in free of you show your TMW festival pass.

What about the music?

Estonia meets L.A.

Estonia's nature ambassador Kerli gives a highly anticipated concert at TMW.

Photo by: JÖ

TMW is, of course, a music festival at its heart, and there are plenty of new sounds to enjoy at the patchwork of vibrant venues around the city. Everyone from Eurovision 2015 favourite Elina Born and guitar-pop heart-throb Daniel Levi, right through to electronic groups Zebra Island and I Wear* Experiment make up arguably the strongest line-up of Estonian bands ever on display at TMW. There is also a plethora of international additions, such as UK up-and-comers Sigmatron and Spiro. Our one to watch is Estonia's most successful popular artist, the Los Angeles and Estonia-based Kerli, who will be performing classic and well-loved tracks from her career, plus some potential surprises from her forthcoming album.

All music details are available on tmw.ee - again, we advise you, in order to avoid disappointment, to organise your schedule in advance.

Last updated : 14.03.2018