This Sunday, 1 December at 17.00, the Christmas lights at Tartu’s Town Hall Square will be turned on and the Tartu Village of Light will be opened. Operating for a period of six weeks, the top moments of the Christmas Village are Advent candle lightings each Sunday, Folk Dance Day with nearly a thousand participants, and the famous Santa Clause Winter Games.
On all four Advent Sundays the video designs of Kerttu Krussla, the light show by Karolin Tamme, and the musical composition of Judith Parts will all meet during the candle lighting ceremony at Town Hall Square. Producer Jaanika Tammaru (Must Kast Theatre) describes the spectacle as a world of enchantment that is lit from the darkness in anticipation: ‘The festive crispness of winter meeting something gentle and magical, ancient patterns and landscapes meeting the simple and childlike. This year, I have assembled my dream team, in order to share the magical feeling of this season of darkness through the audio-visual experience – radiance, light, surprise!’
The lighting of the Advent Candles and a light show takes place at 17.00 on the first four Sundays – 1, 8, 15 and 22 – in December. On the first Advent Sunday, residents will be greeted by Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas and Ants Tooming, Pastor of the congregation at Tartu St Peter’s Church and Provost for Tartu County.
Also helping to set the Christmas feeling every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night is a video projection displayed on the façades of two Town Hall Square buildings. The Kissing Students Fountain will be clothed in Christmas light by installation artist Elo Liiv.
On the Second Advent Sunday, i.e. 8 December, the Santa Clause Winter Games will be held at Town Hall Square. The event serves as a crusade against couch potatoes and smartphone zombies – and fun must be had! Families from the Theatre Vanemuine and the Estonian National Museum and Olympic Champion Kristina Šmigun-Vähi with her family have promised to appear at the starting line. Providing commentary on the competition will be legendary sports announcer Marko Kaljuveer. The Santa Clause Winter Games will begin at Town Hall Square at 15.30 on Sunday, 8 December.
Without a doubt the most crowded event at the Village of Light is Wintry Tartu Folk Dance Day, which brings a total of 800 dancers from Estonia and Latvia to the cobblestones of Tartu Town Hall Square – coming together are folk and colourful striped dresses, cold winter, red cheeks and lively music. Taking care of the latter are Tiit Kikas and Cätlin Mägi. This year the repertoire consists of the dancers’ favourite dances and, of course, the public is invited to join in the dancing. The dance performance ‘Folk Dances’ begins at Town Hall Square at 13.00 on Saturday, 14 December.
This year a Christmas chicken coop is also being opened at the Light Village, the residents of which will be arriving on 2 December. The chickens will be provided with a secure environment and their living conditions have been created based on recommendations by specialists from the Estonian University of Life Sciences.
The Village of Light and Tartu Christmas season programme can be viewed here: https://2019-2020.joululinntartu.ee/kogu-programm/
The Tartu Village of Light is open from 1 December until 10 January – it is this year’s longest operating Christmas land, with the biggest cultural programme in Estonia. The design solution is comprised of 19 bigger and smaller glass pavilions, which are waiting for people to check them out in the outdoors and the heart of the city during the holiday season.
Christmas City Tartu 2019/2020 organiser