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Viljandi Folk Music Festival guide: discover folk in an unique & modern way

4 days of folk music celebration, 8 stages with more than 75 concerts of Estonian and international artists, as well as additional programme with entertainment and workshops awaits you at the XXXI Viljandi Folk Music Festival on 25 – 28 July.

Viljandi Folk Music Festival held in Viljandi Castle Hills and city center with this year’s theme “Patterns and Traces” will focus on the distinctive sound patterns of folk music that help to strengthen and recognise the cultural diversity of different nations. team looked through the festival’s programme and we’ve picked some highlights you shouldn’t miss. Though we must say, festival has a lot more to offer, so make sure to have a look at the festival programme and mark your favourite happenings.

PUULUP (Estonia) on 25.07 at 22:00 - Song Festival Grounds

Explore talharpa sounds and celebrate Puuluup’s 10th anniversary at the festival. For this special occasion all the members who have ever been part of Puuluup's main lineup will come to the stage, from Ramo Teder to Marko Veisson, etc. Their latest Eurovision hit partners 5MIINUST won’t join the stage, but it doesn’t mean you can’t rock the cool dance moves of “(nendest) narkootikumidest ei tea me (küll) midagi”.

OMIRI (Portugal) on 25.07 at 23:30 – Kaevumägi, 27.07 at 22:00 - II Kirsimägi

Get to know Portuguese culture through sound and image, with video field recordings manipulated to serve as a musical base for Vasco Ribeiro Casais's composition and improvisation. OMIRI is a remix of 21st-century culture, blending forgotten musical practices into one show, making them permeable and accessible to contemporary culture, synchronizing forms and music of Portuguese rural tradition with the language of urban culture.

CANZONIERE GRECANICO SALENTINO (Italy) on 25.07 at 14:30 – Kaevumägi, 26.07 at 19:00 - II Kirsimägi

The CGS’s albums and performances are an explosion of energy, passion, rhythm, and magic, which captivate the audience and, through the beat of the tambourine, engage the public in a journey that goes from the past to the present of the culture of Salento (Apulia, Southern Italy).

The programme manager of the festival, Tarmo Noormaa, shared his excitement:

“Most of all, I am delighted to welcome back our old friends Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, who have been one of the most popular ensembles at our festival over the years. They play the wild tarantella music of their region, Puglia, which should shake up even the dullest of people.”

Curly Strings (Estonia) on 26.07 at 16:00 - II Kirsimägi
The foundation of Curly Strings original compositions is passionate and high-spirited playing style, memorably beautiful melodies, and sincere performance. The band's rise to stardom in the Estonian music scene in 2013 was a phenomenon of its own, and thanks to that, the band's music reached the hearts of many Estonians, where it remains to this day.

TRAD.ATTACK! (Estonia) on 26.07 at 20:30 - Song Festival Grounds

Band which will get you dancing from the first songs and is in hearts of many Estonian and also international music fans.  Sandra Vabarna, Jalmar Vabarna and Tõnu Tubli re-invent folk music and are on a mission to play in every country in the world.

DUO RUUT (Estonia) on 27.07 at 19:00 - II Kirsimägi

Friendship and shared interest in their ancestor’s heritage brings together Duo Ruut - Katariina Kivi and Ann-Lisett Rebane. Blend of their different musical backgrounds and tastes with a spice of electronic touch, results in minimalist and fresh music played together on one zither.

Symbio (Sweden) on 27.07 at 20:30 – Kaevumägi, 28.07 at 16:00 - Kaevumägi

Symbio is regarded as one of the most prominent new bands from the Nordic Folk & World music scene. The music of Symbio has been described as mesmerizing and soulful - where virtuoso folk & electronic dance music meet and becomes a cinematic experience for the listener.

Listen to the official festival playlis and discover more great artists from Estonia and abroad – Georgia, Ghana, Norway, Canada, Mexico, United States and other countries.

Besides diverse concert programme, the Viljandi Folk Music Festival also offers many workshops and fun activities. Here are our top 3:

Sámi traditional yoik / John André Eira (Sámi) on 26.07 at 12.30, Chamber Hall of Traditional Music Centre.
Participants will have the unique opportunity to learn about the different styles and techniques of yoiking, as well as the contexts in which they are traditionally performed. At this unique workshop yoiker John André Eira will engage attendees in practical sessions, encouraging them to try out yoiking themselves.

Circle of Baltic songs / The Baltic Sisters (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) on 26.07 at 15.00, Bonifatius Guild, 2nd floor (Väike-Turu 8)

An experience of archaic musical traditions that will allow you to get to know all three countries: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by singing. Latvian powerful songs with drone, known Estonian folk songs from the North and from the South, and the magic of Lithuanian “sutartinės” - as one of the oldest ways of communication.

Folk dancing on the beach on 26.07, 27.07 and 28.07 at 10.00, Basketball court at Lake Viljandi beach

Two sisters Mia Marta Ruus and Paula Kristiine Ruus musicians invite you to join them on Friday and Saturday morning to dance, so you can start the day well, letting traditional music into your bones and lifting your mood! Explore old social dances and spice it up with a few waltzes, polkas, flat foot waltzes and rheinländers.

Uncover the various sounds and approaches to folk music, have fun with likeminded people and enjoy beautiful summer getaway at the XXXI Viljandi Folk Music Festival on 25 – 28 July.  Get your ticket here!


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