Hundred of Thousands of People are Celebrating Estonian Song and Dance Tradition

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Yesterday, on 4th of July started one of the biggest song and dance celebrations in Europe. In this year`s celebration which is held in Estonian capital city Tallinn, almost 35 000 performers and more than 100 000 spectators come to celebrate Estonian singing and dancing heritage that goes back 140 years.

More than 100 000 people marched through the Tallinn to song and dance celebration grounds.

The Song and Dance Celebration is not simply a big festival of singing and dancing but also a way to demonstrate the national spirit. It is definitely an unforgettable experience for anyone who attends it.

The repetitions of the dance celebration started already on June 30th. Choirs and brass bands started to arrive to Tallinn on July 2nd. Altogether there will be 864 choirs and brass orchestras, including 26430 singers and musicians who will perform at the celebration along with 534 dance and gymnastic groups with 7460 dancers and gymnasts. In addition to Estonian singers and dancers, 41 foreign collectives with 1340 singers are expected to participate.

Internationally active Estonian entrepreneur and spectator of this year`s celebration Margus Reinsalu is glad that Estonian Song and Dance Celebration is the country's internationally most famous event: "The Song and Dance Celebration is not simply a big festival of singing and dancing but also a way to demonstrate the national spirit. It is definitely an unforgettable experience for anyone who attends it."

Being the most important festival in Estonia - all Song and Dance Celebration tickets were sold out already a week ago, state and Tallinn city government is doing a lot to support musicians, dancers and spectators. For example, free public transportation and free food for performers, free Wireless internet connections in and around Song Festival Ground, free first aid etc.

"I have been performing in two Dance Celebrations and thus have close relation with this epic event. This is definitely the most important event in Estonia," said Oliver Tubarik from Estonian navy.

The first nationwide Song Celebration was held in Tartu in 1869. At the time this was seen as the first attempt at national self-determination. Fifty choirs and musical ensembles from all over Estonia performed before an audience of thousands, who experienced a blissful sense of belonging, enhanced by the beauty of the music and the songs. This celebration evolved into a tradition that still flourishes today.

The small nation which started the tradition has had to prove to foreign authorities, even in the 20th century, that they are a fully fledged nation with its own rights and resolves. Song and Dance Celebrations were not just big festivals of singing and music, but a way to demonstrate the national spirit and to strengthen the sense of belonging.

The age of foreign rulers is past but Song and Dance Celebrations are still alive - both local and nationwide. It is definitely not only the spirit of protest and resistance that brings hundreds of thousands of Estonians - and an increasing number of guests from around the world - every five years to Tallinn. The total number of performers in the last Song and Dance Celebration in 2004 was 34 000 and they performed before an audience of 200 000.

More information about Estonian Song and Dance Celebration:

Official song and dance celebration blog
Song and dance celebration Twitter feed
Song and dance celebration photos
Song and dance celebration videos

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