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Create your own Tallin during Old Town Days

Jun 01, 2005
By Ksenia Repson

TALLINN - Old Town Days are like a regular Botox injection; they make Tallinn's ancient face, wrinkled with history, resemble a city brimming with youth over and over again.

Each June, thousands of tourists flock to Tallinn in search of pretty-pretty things to buy. Under a glowing summer sky, the town looks superb. Even if it's overcast the festival's bright handicrafts, fresh food and spinning folk costumes lighten the dreary sky.

Whatever the weather may be this year, there are so many activities on the Old Town agenda you'll probably need a consultation - either that or a map and program in-hand. If you can't choose whether to see the rat race, theatre show, open-air dance performance, or attend an Estonian pottery workshop, why not attend them all? The festival lasts for three days, so from June 3-5, you can cram in as much arts-and-crafts as you can handle.

Tallinn had its first injection of Old Town Days in 1982, which makes this year its 24th anniversary. The motto of this summer's jubilation is "Every second is creation," but don't let the ambitious name scare you off. Whether you're a handicraft DaVinci or pottery class drop-out, the casual folksy atmosphere will have you feeling at ease in no time. If anything, you'll find yourself lost among a crowd dressed in ancient folk costumes as if it were centuries ago.

Every museum, church, historical site, restaurant and cafe will be open for all. Ticket prices for museums and exhibitions are lower than usual or even free. But then again, the tourist-geared food and wine prices will surely make up for that.

As an annual attendee, let me give you some words of advice: women - leave your high heels or stilettos at home, as the Old Town's cobblestone streets will surely eat them up; men - be sure to bring an umbrella for you and your date, as Baltic June weather can throw you a storm; and everyone - bring a camera without fail.

For those ambitious sightseers, an informative excursion through the town, lead by a professional guide, will give you a glimpse of Tallinn's ancient cultural underbelly. As a former guide, I recommend a visit to the festival's focal point - the Town Hall Square. Then you should spend at least an hour meditating in church to the hypnotic music of motets. And don't forget to place your ballot in the election of the May Count and Countess (Maikrahv) or try your luck at parrot-shooting in Toompea Staduim. Meanwhile, armored knights will provide plenty of dust and lots of noise, all in good fun of course.

And don't forget to compliment Tallinn on how youthful she looks. Your kind words will be well-taken.

Tallinn Old Town Days

June 3-5

www.vlp.ee
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