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Viljandi Heritage Festival

UNESCO's Heritage City Viljandi shows that heritage is an improver: the festival discusses how folklore and traditional knowledge can help us find sustainable solutions to economic and environmental problems, and visitors get to learn folk skills themselves.


As of 2020, Viljandi carries the title of UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts, or Heritage City. Among other things, we will focus on the inherent value of heritage – improvement. This highlights useful heritage skills and contributes to solving today’s problems. Together with other creative cities, we will share experiences from Estonia and abroad, add heritage to Viljandi’s urban space and invite people to experience the best of heritage culture themselves.


In the run-up to the event, Viljandi Art School, together with the Estonian Folk Culture Centre and other heritage institutions, will combine heritage and street art. The works of art created in the public urban space will stay with viewers for a long time to come. During the festival weekend, a performance art show will take place in the town, while art lovers will be able to enjoy thematic exhibitions in the Kondas Centre, Viljandi Museum, the water tower and the city gallery.

The festival will kick off with an international conference on “Heritage at the Service of Sustainable Communities” (1-2 October), which will discuss how heritage knowledge can help find sustainable solutions to social, economic and ecological challenges. The conference will be followed by international masterclasses (02-03 October) for professionals and students in the field of folk culture.

The festival ends on October 4-5th, with a big heritage culture party in Viljandi, in Estonian Traditional Music Center, on the castle hills and by the lake. Everyone will have the chance to discover the jewels of Estonia’s spiritual heritage, such as the Võro smoke sauna and the art of building Estonian expanded dugout boats, and to test their skills in heritage workshops and competitions. Come and find out if you are a spinner, a blacksmith or a folk dancer! You can also listen to inspiring performances and concerts and discover the heritage of other creative cities. Both the masterclasses and the party will be linked to the Estonian Traditional Music Centre’s harvest party.


The festival reinforces Viljandi’s image as a UNESCO heritage city and strengthens cooperation with the Creative Cities network. Visitors from Estonia and elsewhere around the world will be able to discover a very diverse cultural heritage and the event will encourage both professionals and the general public to use the knowledge of heritage to improve their living environment.