Almost 40,000 young singers and dancers gathered to the Estonian capital to take part in the 12th Youth Song and Dance Celebration from 30 June – 2 July.
The tradition of the Estonian song celebrations dates back to 1869 and has for long been among the most important ways to carry on the national identity and an independent spirit.
The Youth Song and Dance Celebration is a relatively newer phenomenon – the first one took place in 1962. Happening only once in every five years, it is held at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds and the Kalev stadium – just like its “older brother”, the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration. But unlike the “grown-up” of the Estonian song festivals, the participants of the youth celebration are usually in the age range of 7-27 years.
Every celebration is assigned a specific theme that is symbolic to the time we live in and to what the society is coping with. The production then follows this theme and narrates a story via singing. The theme in 2017 was “Here I’ll Stay”, which focused on the connection between the younger generation and its land, culture and the older generations.
Images by Aivar Pihelgas, Raigo Pajula, Merili Reinpalu, Rene Mitt, Sven Začek (courtesy of Youth Song and Dance Celebration.)