Estonian Song Festival

XIX Estonian Song Festival in Tallinn, 1980
A moment before the opening of the 25th Estonian Song Festival (2009) at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds
XXVI Estonian Song Celebration in 2014
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves speaking at the XXVI Estonian Song Festival in 2014

The Estonian Song Festival (in Estonian: laulupidu[1]) is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world, a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is held every five years in July on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak) simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival.[2] The joint choir has comprised more than 30,000 singers performing to an audience of 80,000.[2][3]


List of Song Festivals[4]
Song Festival Year Place Choirs Participants
I Song Festival 1869 Tartu 51 845
II Song Festival 1879 Tartu 64 1,272
III Song Festival 1880 Tallinn 48 782
IV Song Festival 1891 Tartu 179 2,700
V Song Festival 1894 Tartu 263 3,951
VI Song Festival 1896 Tallinn 410 5,681
VII Song Festival 1910 Tallinn 527 10,000
VIII Song Festival 1923 Tallinn 386 10,562
IX Song Festival 1928 Tallinn 436 15,049
X Song Festival 1933 Tallinn 500 16,500
XI Song Festival 1938 Tallinn 569 17,501
XII Song Festival 1947 Tallinn 703 25,760
XIII Song Festival 1950 Tallinn 1,106 31,907
XIV Song Festival 1955 Tallinn 893 30,321
XV Song Festival 1960 Tallinn 875 29,273
XVI Song Festival 1965 Tallinn 690 25,806
XVII Song Festival 1969 Tallinn 771 30,230
XVIII Song Festival 1975 Tallinn 641 28,537
XIX Song Festival 1980 Tallinn 627 28,969
XX Song Festival 1985 Tallinn 677 26,437
XXI Song Festival 1990 Tallinn 690 28,922
XXII Song Festival 1994 Tallinn 811 25,802
XXIII Song Festival 1999 Tallinn 856 24,875
XXIV Song Festival 2004 Tallinn 850 22,759
XXV Song Festival 2009 Tallinn 864 26,430
XXVI Song Festival 2014 Tallinn 1,046[5] 33,025[5]
XXVII Song Festival 2019 Tallinn To be held

The tradition of the song festival was born along with Estonian national awakening. The first national song festival was held in Tartu in the summer of 1869.[2] One of the organisers of the first song festival was Johann Voldemar Jannsen. In the first three festivals only men's choirs and brass orchestras participated. 822 singers and 56 brass players participated in the first festival. Starting with the fourth festival, mixed choirs were also participating. Starting with the sixth festival in 1896, the festival tradition moved to Tallinn.

Starting from 1947, the Soviet authorities forced foreign songs into the repertoire. Every event was to include the State Anthem of the Estonian SSR, The Internationale, and the National Anthem of the Soviet Union.[2] Because of the inclusion of children's and boys' choirs the total number of participants rose to 25,000 – 30,000 people. The Dance and Gymnastic Festival of the First Estonian Games started in 1934 became predecessors of later National Dance Festivals accompanying the song festival.[6]

See also


  1. XXV laulupidu ÜhesHingamine (2009)
  2. 1 2 3 4 Estonian Song and Dance Celebrations Estonian Song and Dance Celebration Foundation
  3. Lauluväljakul oli teisel kontserdil 110 000 inimest (110,000 people in the Song Festival Grounds during the second concert. In Estonian). Delfi
  4. Template:Netiviide
  5. 1 2 Uudiskirjad. Eesti Laulu- ja Tantsupeo SA.
  6. Dance Festival – Invented Tradition? by Marika Plakso. Estonian Institute
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