The programme of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 will include over 1,000 events

  • 2023-11-10

Less than 100 days remain until Tartu, the oldest city in the Baltics, and Southern Estonia region become the European Capital of Culture. Next year, Tartu 2024 will offer visitors to the city more than 1,000 events across 350 projects, which also involve representatives from Latvia.

Tartu 2024 will be the main event in Estonia next year, as a quarter of the country is involved in organising the initiative.

The European Capital of Culture programme in Tartu and Southern Estonia, inspired by the artistic concept Arts of Survival, focuses on the knowledge, skills, and values that will help humankind lead a good life in the future. The spotlight is on sustainability, co-creation, local uniqueness, science and technology. Over the course of the year, Estonia will share its story and survival skills and invite others to learn them. The Arts of Survival are interpreted by fields of culture, from folk and food culture to music, film, and visual art.

Opening the Tartu 2024 programme in Latvia, Kuldar Leis, CEO of Tartu 2024 stresses that, "The role and meaning of the theme Arts of Survival has changed over time. No one could have predicted the global pandemic that wrecked everyday life and cultural centres around the world upon gaining the title of the European Capital of Culture in 2019. Even those who remained at a safe distance were shaken by Russia's war against Ukraine. The last year has taught us one of the most important art of survival. Tartu and Estonia's borders are more than just physical boundaries. We live at a time when European cooperation, solidarity, and democracy are critical to the survival of culture."

The grand opening of the European Capital of Culture year in Estonia will take place in Tartu on 26 January 2024. The spectacle “All Becomes One” on the banks of river Emajõgi will showcase the interconnectedness of people, regions and eras through images, movement and music.

The highlights throughout the year include “Kissing Tartu”, a mass kissing event, that aims to bring together thousands to spread the message of love; Wild Bits, an open-air exhibition of technological art in the noted tech and art farm Maajaam and Business as Usual, an Estonian-Danish joint theatre production about the Danske bank money laundering scandal.

The programme includes the world famous Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda’s Solo Exhibition that consists of an installation based on research data from the University of Tartu's Institute of Genomics and a sound installation created in collaboration with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.

Urban nightlife exhibition “unda” will take place in Estonian National Museum combined with electronic music parties curated by the renowned Tallinn cultural club, HALL. Furthermore, a collaboration between Concerto Copenhagen and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir will bring the music of Georg Friedrich Händel and the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt to the stage. Pop music fans can look forward to Sting's concert "My Songs", which will take place in June 10 on the Tartu Song Festival Open Air Stage.

Representatives from Latvia are also involved in creating the Tartu 2024 programme. Arts of Survival is a collection of eight short documentaries showcasing the diversity of Southern Estonia, made by internationally renowned filmmakers including Latvian directors Andris Gauja and Viesturs Kairišs, as well as Andrey Paounov (Bulgaria), Carl Olsson (Sweden), Eva Kübar, Jaan Tootsen, Maria Aua and Ülo Pikkov (Estonia).

Neighbours – a production and collaboration between the Ugala Theatre and the Valmiera Drama Theatre will delight both Estonian and Latvian culture lovers and bring old friends closer together. A fresh play about the love between young people in Estonia and Latvia, inspiring families on both sides to communicate with each other. The production of Neighbours will premiere in 2024, and theatre enthusiasts from both countries will be treated to a total of 20 performances.

The Festival of Lights 2024 Arrival is dedicated to an important event in astronomy - in October 2024, NASA's Artemis 3 launcher will land on the Moon: this will mark the first crewed lunar mission since 1972 and the first time in history that a woman will be walking on the Moon. In honour and celebration of the mission and humanity's curiosity, the Festival of Lights will play out the key events of space travel: the landing, the opening of the horizon and the spacewalk. The festival will open with a large-scale sound and light installation "Touchdown – Coliseum", created in cooperation with Latvian partners Story Hub and Those Guys Lightning.

In cooperation with the LAMPA conversation festival and the Latvian Students' Union, a European Democracy Hybrid Festival or Opinion Festival will take place with debates in various university cities all over Europe. In turn, the Baltic and Estonian Music Days will be one of the biggest contemporary music events in our region, where more than 20 composers will witness world debut performances of their compositions.

More extensive information about the "Tartu 2024" programme and forthcoming events is available here and on "Tartu 2024" social media profiles. 


This will be the second time an Estonian city holds the European Capital of Culture title, following the capital city Tallinn in 2011.