TALLINN - The Estonian Ollesummer (Beer Summer), once again hits the historical Song Festival grounds of Tallinn this week. First held in 1994 as a local beer trade fair, Beer Summer has made a considerable leap to becoming a massive national event that celebrates the diversity of Estonian culture from contemporary urban to ethnic.
Spanning five days, July 6 -10, the Estonian Beer Festival recreates a world of its own, where the proximity of the sea and the taste of the sudsy brew enhance the festive mood. For beer drinkers, this is the best place to sample something new -with over 100 varieties, the beer comes in all colours and varieties. "Beer Wall"is the place to get your brew 's a row of beer sellers greet you at the main alley. But if you hesitate to dive into the beer right away, the drink can be also purchased in giant beer tents and stands that are scattered all over the site.
Common knowledge tells us that in order to appreciate the best taste of beer, it should be accompanied by a good meal. This is definitely not hard to find at Beer Summer. The entire area is enveloped in the tempting smell of Estonian cuisine and the range of options available will cater to the most persnickety of taste buds.
Although beer hasn't lost its lure at the festival over the past 11 years, its primary importance to the event has certainly fizzled a bit. Raimond Kaljulaid, the head of public relations for the festival, points out that unlike at the traditional German Octoberfest, "beer plays a big part at Ollesummer but not the biggest 's it is mainly an Estonian cultural event." A special folk area is set up to highlight traditional Estonian culture (handicraft, music, cuisine and cult) and 15 stages host a wide range of contemporary Estonian performers for the entertainment of all generations.
And while adults tap their toes and sip a brew, the little ones have their own special zone and a complete entertainment program just for them. Young spectators can take part in aerobics, dance and theatre performances and will be entertained by clowns and games where their parents are invited to join in the fun. There is even a kid's disco and for teenage audiences famous Estonian DJs and top-chart pop and rock bands will be on hand. An amusement park rounds out this extravaganza of family fun.
And so if loud music and beer bubbles aren't your cup of tea? Don't despair, head directly to the Jazz terrace where you can escape the frenzy and chill out with a glass of wine and a jazz & blues program that will please the most sophisticated tastes. The highlight of the jazz program is predicted to be the Sundja jazz band with its original jazz interpretation of Robbie Williams songs at 9pm on Friday the 8th.
The opening and closing events of this year's festival definitely prove that beer has surrendered the limelight to the music acts. A slight variation from the traditional flavor of the festival, the organizers boast that the most famous Estonian bands open the festival this week with a tribute to the Beatles at 9pm on Thursday July 7th. And the festival is set to close with a concert by legendary Estonian jazz and bossa nova singer Uno Loop, who will be celebrating his 75th birthday. Raimond Kaljulaid is certain that even younger generations will be attracted to this concert as the jazz giant will be performing together with young aspiring Estonian talents, such as hip hop artist Chalice.
Beer Summer promises to be both a gastronomic and musical highlight of Tallinn's summer season. Go, take in the sights and have your fill of the sudsy stuff. And fear not, a responsible event, festival organizers have ensured a permanent taxi service that will peacefully escort you to your home or hotel if you ever decide to leave.
Tickets for this Estonian
mega party can be purchased
at the gate.
One day tickets cost
125 kroons (8 euros)
Five day tickets cost
350 krons (~ 22 euros)
Tickets for children and
pensioners are discounted