We are organising an international Great Lakes Festival of Ships, an opportunity for Estonians as well as Europeans to take a closer look at this little-known yet exciting world of water.
The River Emajõgi connects the lakes Võrtsjärv and Peipsi, forming the Great Lakes of Estonia with a central port in Tartu. With its 600 kilometres of waterways, it is like an unpolished diamond, the value of which lies in its scale and its natural and cultural diversity. The history of maritime transport in the Estonian Great Lakes, spearheaded by a unique type of trading vessel, the Emajõe-Peipsi barge, is very distinctive. The shores of Great Lakes are culturally very diverse, with Estonians, Old Believers, Setos and Mulks living here. Nature is also fascinating and rich - there are many conservation areas, some of Europe's mightiest preserved natural flood-meadows, giant swamps and beautiful sandy beaches.
You will have the chance to sail from port to port for 11 days, with ships from Estonia and further afield. The gems of this fleet are the Barge Jõmmu, the Viking ship Turm, kaleboats Liisu and Paula as well as the two-masted barge being built just for this occasion.
You will get to take part in a diverse cultural and educational programme in ports, both onboard and ashore. Starting from Vasknarva, the festival will culminate on the fourth day in the centre of Tartu, and end in Räpina Harbour. Guests arriving by land and water will be able to sample local food and crafts. You can participate in workshops on heritage culture, nature, science and water sports. Every evening, the boats are transformed into a stage for a modern circus and a sailing cinema. In the evenings, you can dance the night away to local folk music arrangements at concerts. What a buzz!
We will unite the 13 municipalities, businesses and development organisations connected to the lakes into a coherent network and boost the sustainable co-development of the Great Lakes.
We will make the Estonians and our visitors love freshwater and the heritage growing up around it.Advocates: Liisa-Lota Kaivo, Linda Saare, Kadi Ploom, Karoliina Lass