Three new videos demonstrate the Estonian Song and Dance Celebration

Every five years, almost 100,000 Estonians gather to sing in a giant choir. Find out about the tradition and how you can be part of the magic.

Along with the famous Song Festival, almost 10,000 Estonian dancers gather every five years to dance together.

What is the magic of the Song and Dance Festival that defines Estonians? Dating back almost 150 years, this tradition still attracts and unites the young and the old today.


Cover photo by Mait Jüriado.

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About the author: Estonian World

Estonian World is a global independent online magazine, founded in London in 2012 and headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. The magazine has editorial representations in London, New York, Toronto and Tallinn, and contributors all over the world, on every continent. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

  • saima

    The word “pidu” has three different English meanings; party, celebration and festival. I think that in the case of “laulupidu” and “tantsupidu” the most accurate English translation is “Song Festival” and ” Dance Festival”. Any thoughts from other native English speaking Estos. Is this just the finer points of American English or does it correlate with the English, Canadian, Australian speakers also?

    • Küllike Singer

      I have heard from the organisers that they chose to call it a celebration to avoid the confusion with generic mass events with concerts and drinking that are usually called festivals. Party is also not an option as it does not reflect the spirit of the event. People still call it mostly Song Festival when they translate it to their English-speaking friends but perhaps for publicity purposes it really is best to call it a celebration as it carries the closest meaning to the event.

      • Interesting. For me, “celebration” would be more applicable to post-independence events, and “festival” (with its less political bent) to pre…

  • Melodija

    There is nothing like it anywhere in world? As Latvian I feel really offended.

    • Küllike Singer

      I know, I was wondering the same thing … any culturally educated person should know this.

      • Peeter

        I might have one explanation to this miracle 🙂
        I am not sure about Lithuania, but Estonian tradition was born in Tartu. Which means that in Livonia. As known, historically Livonia covered Southern Estonia and Northern Latvia. To sum up,I believe that this singing traditions can be concidered as “Livonian” tradition taken over and shared by 2 nations equally.
        No need to feel offended 🙂
        And one more thing … I have had chance to visit some Western European football matches held in big arenas. I know that singing in sports stadium is not exactly the same, but experience got there made me think, that there are nations which may be even more “singing nations” than we are.

    • Love it

      …and let’s not forget Lithuania. Even their stage/open-air stage looks almost identical — as both were modeled on the same precedent. But in the end — I’m as awe inspired by the Estonians, as the Lithuanians and of course — Latvians:

    • Ülle

      I think in certain ways all the celebrations in those three countires are unique and like nothing else anywhere in the world! So please don’t feel offended! Each celebration of each country has something so very own which makes it special! 🙂

    • peeter

      Have you been to the Estonian Song Festival? That’s definately a unique and amazing experience. Latvians are a great nation and you have a beautiful country. You should be proud of Latvia.

  • Ted Reilly

    a song from Australia by way of exchange … with thanks!

  • Estonian

    We must not forgot Baltic Germans who brought us this tradition.

  • Alice Bloomer

    is there an estonian dance group in London?