The tale of Tallinn’s most famous Christmas tree

Source: Jaanus Ree, Visit Estonia

The tale of Tallinn’s most famous Christmas tree

Tallinn is home to one of Europe's oldest holiday traditions: the display of a public Christmas tree on the Town Hall Square. It is just one reason that Tallinn was named the Best Christmas Market in Europe in 2019, and in 2020 remains a top holiday pick as one of Europe's safest Christmas destinations

History of Tallinn's famous tree

Winter wonderland

The historic Tallinn Town Hall overlooking market stalls.

Photo by: Toomas Volmer / Visit Estonia

Legend has it that the first Christmas tree was brought to Tallinn in 1441 by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a Livonian merchants' association. If this is true, that would make it the first Christmas tree placed in a town square in Europe, a claim debated by the city of Riga, where a similar tradition was started by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads around the same time. The ceremony of carrying the tree into the heart of Tallinn became quite an affair over time, attracting such nobility as Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia, who participated in the event in 1711.

Each year, Tallinn's Town Hall Square is the centre of the holiday magic and the Christmas tree is its crown jewel. An annual contest seeks out the most beautiful spruce tree in all of Estonia to become the market's centrepiece. It is then decorated with thousands of lights. The city centre itself is home to nearly 100 different lighting solutions each winter. The Adam Decolight factory in Rapla, Estonia produces many of the lights for the Christmas tree as well as for streets, malls and airports around the world from London to Macau. 

Shopping and festivities in the Old Town

Handmade gifts

Choose from traditional handicrafts or modern design presents.

Photo by: Silver Tõnisson / Viist Estonia

This year, you can catch the Christmas festivities in Tallinn from 29 November 2020 until 10 January 2021. Check out the Christmas-programmes of the Old Town's museums and attractions, admire urban art and light installations, or take a tour. Local artisans and designers are selling presents, or you can even try making your own handicrafts or sweets in a workshop. 

Read the latest on Christmas in Tallinn 2020.

Last updated : 22.04.2021

In category: Tallinn, History & culture, Shopping