The tradition of European Estonian song festivals began in 1974, when the first festival was held in Münster, Germany. This was followed by another festival also held in Münster 4 years later in 1978. The third festival took place in DeMontfort Hall in Leicester and the fourth in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1986.
After this, the festivals stopped taking place mainly due to the fact that Estonia became independent again in 1991 and the need for Estonians to celebrate their culture outside of their country seemed to diminish.
This year, in 2018, we are celebrating the centenary of Estonia’s first period of independence, which was declared on 24th February 1918 in the city of Tartu. In honour of this important historical event, the Association of Estonians in Great Britain has decided to resurrect the tradition of European Estonian Song festivals as our gift to Estonia on the occasion of her hundredth birthday.
Estonia is a small but proud nation situated on the Baltic Sea near to Finland and the main aim of this festival is to introduce its rich and varied culture to the citizens of Leicester.
Estonia has a very long tradition of choral singing and folk dancing. Every five years, the country holds a huge celebration of song and dance at the song festival grounds on the outskirts of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital city. Singers and dancers from all around the country and also abroad come together to celebrate Estonian song and dance. The united choir comprises 30,000 singers on stage, with an audience of over 100,000. More than a fifth of the population of Estonia attends the festival.
The European Estonian Song and Dance Festival in Leicester aims to give the audience a flavour of Estonian culture and tells the story of 100 years of Estonian history through the medium of song and dance.
Come and feast your eyes on the performers in their colourful costumes and listen to the haunting songs and melodies that describe one small nation’s battle for sovereignty and freedom.