Estonia: A nation shaped by the sea

  • 2016-02-10
  • Helen Wright

TALLINN - Estonia’s maritime connections, traditions, and history will be explored in a series of events throughout 2016 after the Ministry of Culture chose the country’s seaside heritage as its annual theme.
“The Year of Maritime Culture: Facing the Sea” aims to show how the ocean is part of the nation’s “history and culture.”
Concerts, lectures, discussions, festivals and exhibitions will show off the traditions from living close to the sea that have shaped Estonia.

Each season will have a different emphasis. Until the end of the month events will look at heritage and culture. From March to May the focus will be on safety and education. In summer people will be encouraged to spend their holidays at the beach and from September until the end of the year discussions will be held about the future of Estonia as a maritime country.
Most of the events have been mainly organised for the Estonian public and the Ministry has put 200,000 euros towards funding the programme. But it is expected that tourists will be interested in the bigger events of the summer.
The biggest events will be the annual Tallinn Maritime Days taking place from July 15 to 17 and Kuressaare Maritime Days on the island of Saaremaa in August.
There will also be coastal trips from April to October to port and harbour towns and villages across the north and west of the country.

Experts will speak about the role of the sea in each area and how it has shaped the way of life of the people who live there. There will be local handicrafts, food, and local music and dancing. Most tours will be in Estonian.
Speaking at the launch, culture minister Indrek Saar said: “The nation has its own history and culture and the sea has played a big role in this. The sea is not just the water around us, but it is part of our culture, our identity, work, food, and education, and traditions. I hope that the Maritime Culture year brings us all closer to the sea — both directly and indirectly.”

Every year the Ministry of Culture chooses a theme for the year’s events. It made 2015 the Year of Music.
To find out more about this year’s events visit