TALLINN - This summer may have been a total washout so far, but that's no reason for Tallinners to stay in the city, particularly when there is so much to do in the season's capital, the seaside resort of Parnu. Just as the theoretical Estonian summer reaches its peak, the town plays host to the Watergate festival - which is as good a reason as any to get away from the capital.
Head southwest on July 16 - July 17 and you won't regret it. There really should be something for everyone to enjoy in this much-needed dose of summer fun.
There is a good choice of aquatic races for sports fans, from the Watergate regatta that takes a lineup of the finest sailboats around the islands of the Gulf of Riga and back to Parnu again, to the second round of the European jet-ski championship. But if that doesn't interest you, the Sunset Club will host the Watergirl 2004 contest, which, as the name suggests, doesn't leave much to the imagination.
But most people don't come to the Watergate festival to look at others enjoying themselves - they come to party. And there is a lot in the way of entertainment. Pop princess Ines will be performing on the grounds of the yacht club, or if you're feeling funky, go check out Chalice, the hottest thing on the Estonian hip-hop scene at the moment.
Head to the Sunset Club on July 16 to dance the night away with electronic act Caater performing live, or come and see Slobodan River the day after. But the most highly anticipated live performance is doubtless that of Peeter Jogioja, the devilish drummer that recently represented Estonia at the Eurovision song contest along with the ethnic girl band Neiokoso. Jogioja's show "Fire, Water and Drum" promises to give you a whole new appreciation of the power of pagan percussion. The show is scheduled for both nights of the festival, although you will need to wait until it gets dark to really feel the full force of Jogioja's extraordinary set.
But many people come to Watergate not to see jet-skis or live bands - they want to see all the weird stuff that you can do in water. The wacky races of unorthodox watercraft are a long-standing favorite of partying Estonians, and the Parnu festival attracts the biggest and most bizarre choice of them all.
In past years Watergate even spawned a brand new sport that is just coming to fruition: water basketball! It sounds confusing, but that's because it's meant to be - the game isn't meant as a test of athletic skill, after all, but rather a way to have an obscene amount of fun. Professionals will be on hand to give a demonstration and explain the subtleties of the game.
All manner of aquatic activities will be held throughout the festival, so boredom will definitely not be an option. You'll probably have to pray for sunshine, but the extremely nice people of Parnu will make sure you have a great time at Watergate 2004 regardless of the weather. And of course there's always beer. You can always have fun with beer. Even at a water festival. Who knows? Maybe a new watersport involving kegs of beer and a straw will even be created this year. o
Watergate festival in Parnu
July 16 - July 17
Venues: Yacht Harbour
(main venue), Kuursaal, Sunset club, Parnu town beach.
Check www.watergate.ee for detailed program.
Tickets: 11 euros for a 2-day pass, 6 euros for a one-day ticket to the yacht harbor