The first part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 main programme was presented at an unforgettable Ice Rave

European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 celebrated the birth of its programme in Tartu with an Ice Rave. The residents of Tartu and the organisers of the events gathered on the skating rink in Town Hall Square, where the energetic and unpredictable band REDEL gave a wild concert from the windows of the former dental clinic. This was followed by the audiovisual band OOPUS premiering their new track ‘Maailma loomine’, after which DJ Kersten Kõrge closed the night with pulsating rave music.  

Photo: Mana Kaasik.

This is a major milestone for the European Capital of Culture, as the programme has now been revealed to the public. ‘In 2024, Tartu and Southern Estonia will hold the title of European Capital of Culture. We invite everyone from Estonia and abroad to join in on the experiences here,’ said Kati Ilves, the Artistic Director of Tartu 2024. ‘The Ice Rave was held to present the first events that will be organised under the official programme to the public; these will bring unique experiences to audiences in the coming years and will transform the world through the arts.’ As yet, there are still two years to go until the title year opening event. According to Ilves, the official programme will be updated with many more events throughout this year and the next.

Urmas Klaas, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Tartu 2024 Foundation and Mayor of Tartu, believes that being awarded the title of European Capital of Culture gives the city of Tartu and the whole of Southern Estonia an excellent opportunity to raise the region’s profile, not just in Estonia, but throughout Europe. ‘I am truly pleased that we have managed to put together such a strong programme that tackles the global challenges we are facing from many different angles. These projects deal with the deepening climate crisis, social tensions, the survival of communities – all of which are extremely topical issues,’ Klaas added.

A pop-up exhibition dedicated to the Capital of Culture programme is now open in the Town Hall Square of Tartu, where visitors can learn all about the events that will soon be launched in Tartu and Southern Estonia.

The European Capital of Culture programme was presented with an updated visual identity for Tartu 2024, which was created in collaboration with the Tartu-based creative agency NOPE Creative.

The first part of the main programme for European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 consists of 25 projects:

Kissing Tartu is an initiative aimed at promoting compassion and respect towards others and oneself. The initiative will consist of an educational programme, a grand concert performance, and an unprecedented mass kissing event. It will include simple and honest discussions and excellent entertainment. The message intended by the organisers is: ‘Because what is life without kissing? Nothing but the sad passage of time.’ Organisers: Tartu Student Club, Kulno Kungla, Meelika Hirmo, Kadri Asmer, University of Tartu Youth Academy.

Tartu World University is a series of community academies. At these academies, active communities from Southern Estonia and the world’s top scientists and cultural figures will meet to inspire each other and make the world a better place. The participants will join forces to seek solutions to global problems at a local level and vice versa. Organisers: Triinu Laan and the University of Tartu Centre for Ethics.

Toomemägi Revisited is a project aimed at revitalising Toomemägi, the heart of the city of Tartu, by imbuing it with light, culture, and science. The city’s residents and visitors will be able to take a stroll in the ruins of the cathedral while their full beauty is revealed by a well-designed lighting solution, as well as visit surprising installations on Toomemägi that explore the cultural heritage of the University of Tartu. Toomemägi is worth visiting! Organisers: Mariann Raisma, Karoliina Kalda, Külli Lupkin, and the University of Tartu Museum.

Hybrid European Democracy Festival. In 2024, Tartu will simultaneously be a globally recognised digital city and a small green town. Everyone who cares about the future is invited to attend a Prejudice/Opinion Festival in Tartu as well as a pan-European Hybrid European Democracy Festival. The discussions will explore intriguing lines of thought on all imaginable aspects of Europe, ranging from Southern Estonian smoke saunas to Western European university campuses. Organisers: DD Foundation, MTÜ Arvamusfestival, and Üliõpilaskonna Sihtasutus.

The project Curated Biodiversity will fill the parks and green areas of downtown Tartu with life: crowds of people, lush vegetation, exciting activities, games and sports, and landscape art. This will make Tartu an even better home for plants, insects, small animals, and people alike. Organisers: Merle Karro-Kalberg, Karin Bachmann, Anna-Liisa Unt.

The project Arts of Survival Documentaries aims to create a collection of documentary films. These documentaries will explore the diversity of Southern Estonia and will be co-produced by both Estonian and foreign directors. The short films will be combined into an ‘Arts of Survival’ film collection that will be played in cinemas across Estonia, on TV, and at special screenings in small villages. Those who prefer to dress up for such occasions will get to enjoy films celebrating the uniqueness of Southern Estonia at various prestigious European film festivals. Organisers: Liisa Nurmela, Anna-Liisa Ingver, Kaarel Kuurmaa.

The project The Route Diverse will explore Southern Estonia through the eyes of various linguistic and cultural groups in a series of travelling performances. Characters, stories, and skills have always been highly regarded in Southern Estonia! Organisers: Nastja Pertšjonok and International House Tartu

Stencibility Goes Europe will introduce both local and international audiences to the unique features of Tartu’s street artists and their works. In 2022 and 2023, the project will travel to various European cities and festivals, while in 2024, a grand special Stencibility festival will take place in Tartu. Organisers: Kadri Lind, Sirje Joala.

Nature Creates is a festival that aims to raise awareness of the biodiversity around us. The festival will delve into the connections between nature and culture in urban spaces and present nature-inspired creative works to audiences. Organisers: Margus Kasterpalu, Veljo Runnel, Reet Mägi.

Enter Woodland Spirits is at once an online anthology of natural heritage put together from the collections of the Estonian Folklore Archives, as well as an international digital art exhibition devoted to exploring the meaning of ancient traditions. Organisers: Taive Särg, Henri Hütt, Ave Goršič.

Wild Bits is an open-air exhibition of technological art that invites visitors to contemplate the connections between nature and technology. The project will include two smaller outdoor exhibitions in the European Capital of Culture Kaunas in 2022 and in Latvia in 2023. The main exhibition will be held as a culmination of the project at the technology and art farm Maajaam near Otepää. Organisers: Timo Toots, Mari-Liis Rebane, Kadri Lind, Marie Kliiman, Taavi Suisalu.

Growing with your Food is an initiative that aims to promote growing food in a sustainable way, for which it will partner with educational institutions and families from across Southern Estonia. The programme will teach children to appreciate food and how it is grown, exploring everything from planting seeds all the way to composting. Growing with your Food will spread the message of homegrown clean food across Europe! Organisers: Elen Peetsmann, Karin Pai, Eeva Kirsipuu-Vadi.

ReVogue Fashion Festival aims to educate the public about how they can avoid fast fashion and overconsumption and make more eco-conscious choices as fashion consumers. The project will include various fashion-related events, including a fashion fair and three fashion shows: MoodPerformanceTants, OmaMood and Antonius Fashion Show. Slow fashion is the new fashion! Organisers: Maiken Austin and Estonian Fashion Festival.

Reclaiming the River Emajõgi and the Great Lakes is an international boating festival that will enable both Estonians and visitors from Europe to explore the exciting and little-known waterways connecting Lake Võrtsjärv to Lake Peipus. The festival will include a diverse cultural and educational programme whose activities will take place both on boats and ashore at local harbours. Organisers: Liisa-Lota Kaivo, Linda Saare, Kadi Ploom, Karoliina Lass.

Surrealism 100 will see four art projects brought to life at Tartu Art Museum and the Estonian National Museum, devoted to the 100th anniversary of the first Surrealist manifestos. These will be accompanied by a versatile public and supporting programme. Organiser: Tartu Art Museum.

Hidden Worlds Expanding aims to expand the opportunities available for creative self-expression to people with special needs. The project will bring outsider art to wider audiences and, in the summer of 2024, will launch international outsider art exhibitions in three Estonian cities: Tartu, Narva, and Viljandi. Organisers: Mari Vallikivi, Eva Laantee Reintamm, Annika Vihmann.

Literary festival Prima Vista 2024 “Futures Better and Worse” is a cross-disciplinary literary festival that will explore modern interpretations of utopias and dystopias in artistic and critical forms. The festival will bring together writers, artists, academics, and culture enthusiasts from various countries to map and unravel societal hopes and fears in as diverse and comprehensive a way as possible. Organisers: Jaak Tomberg, Agnes Neier.

Sound our Souls is a series of ambient music concerts that will take place in Tartu. Visitors will be immersed in multi-faceted presentations combining electronic music, psychogeographic theatre, visual effects, and light projection. Each concert will be preceded by a thematic hearing experience trek. Organisers: Tristan Rebane, Merili Laur, Anni Sikk.

Washing Machine Made of Beetroot is a joint exhibition project dedicated to invention, ingenuity, recycling, and DIY efforts, put together by the Estonian Road Museum, the Estonian Agricultural Museum, and Tartu City Museum. Beetroot Washing Machine aims to give people of all ages and skillsets the DIY bug! Organisers: Paavo Kroon (Estonian Road Museum), Madle Uibo (Tartu City Museum), and Ilze Salnaja-Värv (Estonian Agricultural Museum).

Stand Up for Your Mind carries the message that despite the fact that good mental health is acknowledged as essential for well-being, our problems are often invisible and stigmatised. That is why we need to create a supportive and caring culture of talking about mental health. Stand up for your Mind will help explore mental health issues through humour by organising mental health cafés, improv comedy groups, and stand-up performances in Southern Estonia, where both professionals and locals will be given the stage to share their mental health stories. Organisers: Minna Sild, Sandra Liiv, Mihkel Mooste. Partners: MTÜ Peaasjad, MTÜ Improkool, Kinoteater MTÜ.

Creative Connections aims to foster the development of social skills and mutual understanding through art. The project will involve the creation of an educational programme linking the domains of art and social issues, works of art that promote communication, and an exhibition of international contemporary art. Organisers: Hanna-Liis Kont and Tartu Art Museum.

Through the City is a true story of Tartu and its people that aims to collect assorted memories from the residents of the assorted districts of the city. Through the City will fill Tartu with diverse creative endeavours and offer a voice to those who do not normally participate in artistic circles. Audiences will get to experience the districts of Tartu and the stories of its people through a travelling production. Organisers: Tiiu Tamm, Jaanika Tammaru, Merilyn Elge.

The South Estonian Community Programme is a region-wide inclusion initiative where the stage will be given to exceptional communities who have created unique events through which the story of the local places and people will be told to the rest of Europe. Organisers: Kristiina Tammets, Tiina Ivask, Kerli Kanger, Endla Mitt, Kaisa Timmi.

Crossing Generations will connect local and international audiences with older generations to learn skills that are in danger of becoming lost to history. In 2023 and 2024, the project will see various workshops teaching archaic skills being held in Tartu and Southern Estonia. Organisers: Ants Siim, Kärt Kunnus, and Anna Venchakova (Tartu City Museum).

Performa Borealis is an international festival of professional performing arts that will explore themes of social responsibility and eco-conscious theatre. The festival will take place in theatre halls and urban spaces, where audiences will get to experience visual theatre, political theatre, documentary theatre, contemporary dance and circus performances, and more. Expect to be inspired and delighted in 2024! Organisers: Kristiina Reidolv, Inga Koppel, MTÜ Performa Borealis.

More information about the programme: 

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