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Night Folk Dance Festival

Folklore, dance, light art, theatre and music form a mystical combination at the Kubija Song Festival Grounds. For one night, we will all gather under the octagon - the sign of good luck - and revive ancient pagan traditions from different parts of Estonia.


On a mysterious August night, lights flicker under the pine trees of Kubija and brooches sparkle. Ancient patterns and symbols come to life on the dance floor. Ghosts, elves and other fantastical creatures, familiar from the work of Võru’s writer Juhan Jaik, sneak around between the trees. The distant sounds of bagpipes and kannel (Estonian plucked string instrument). As the darkness deepens, you can feel your ancestors’ universe coming to life around you…


The Night Folk Dance Festival will take place on the 24th of August at Kubija Song Festival Grounds as part of the celebrations for the 240th birthday of Võru. The event, which combines folklore, theatre, lightshow and nature, will feature actors and dancers from Saare-, Viru-, Harju-, Võru- and Setomaa.

The event will start as soon as the gates open. A staged fairy-tale forest is created under Kubija pines, where you can meet the mysterious creatures and ghosts from Juhan Jaik’s fantastical tales. The centrepiece of the evening will be the Night Dance Festival “Born under a lucky sign”, where ancestral beliefs and pagan traditions from different regions of Estonia will be brought to life. In the production, Vanapagan (the God of the Underworld in Estonian mythology), tries to bring evil, bad luck and misfortune to the people in all sorts of ways, but the people fight back by casting spells and using lucky signs and symbols. Vanapagan’s tricks are met by five dance blocks, during which the audience is presented with patterns and symbols from folklore, which emphasise the particularities of the different regions and form the tips of a protective lucky sign, kaheksakand or the eight pointed star. In addition to local specificities, our traditional patterns have many universal features that will delight visitors from further afield.

Regional costumes and folk instruments add colour to the performance: striped skirts, the large silver brooches of the Setos and the bright yellow of Muhu island’s folk costumes catch the audience’s eye, while bagpipes and melodeons play in the background. The spectacle of the Night Dance Festival will be enhanced by Vanapagan and his grotesque minions, air acrobats and a light show. In addition, the setting itself helps to tell the story as well, with the dance and the theatrical scenes blending into the surrounding nature.

The evening will continue with village fetes around the song festival grounds, where those interested can dance with the dancers, listen to the best young storytellers of the wonder tales contest, and enjoy local food. You might even see Vanapagan and his fearsome entourage stepping by!

Guests should not rush home, because at midnight, in a fiery and musical culmination of the evening, we will find out what will happen to Vanapagan and his minions. After the devil is banished to hell, a real musical frenzy begins, the likes of which have never been seen before under the pines of Kubija.

The input for the Night Folk Dance Festival will be legends about Vanapagan, Juhan Jaik’s fantastical tales and folklore stories about encounters with mythological creatures.


The event helps to highlight the exciting traditional culture and the picturesque nature of South-East Estonia, as well as the specificities of different places in Estonia. The local community is involved in the organisation of the event, introducing the rich food culture of Võru county to the visitors. The tradition of dance festivals has a special place in Estonian culture, and is also well known in other parts of the world, so the Night Dance Festival will offer an unforgettable experience for both local visitors and foreign guests.