Young Estonians take part in their special Song and Dance Celebration

Songs for Freedom

Every journey begins with a single step.

Even to sing or dance we sometimes have to undertake a journey.

It will be hugely impressive to experience the power of music as over 100,000 people journey from all over the globe to sing and dance in Tallinn for the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration in 2019.

How did it begin?

The song festival was born along with a national awakening. The first national song festival was held in Tartu in 1869.  Johann Voldemar Jannsen is credited as a key figure in the first event. Quickly the festival expanded beyond being a small ‘men only’ event. This festival takes place every five years. At the fourth festival, mixed choirs were participating, then by the twentieth century the celebration moved to Tallinn.

The Dance and Gymnastic Festival was added in 1934 becoming the predecessor of the colourful National Dance Festivals which accompany this veritable feast of singing. The journey which began with one step and a few people has had a massive impact. Singing strengthened and bound this nation together through their dark days of Soviet occupation.

In 2014 there were over 1,000 choirs and 30,000 participants plus a crowd of 60,000 people. Who knows how big it will become in the future? One thing is assured, Estonians know how to keep their language and culture incredibly vibrant, through song and dance.

Try this film of the Celebrations. It reveals how to sing your freedom.

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