TALLINN - Anyone who has ever been to Tartu always comments on the special student spirit that is so prevalent in the picturesque city. But you can witness Tartu's famed student spirit spiral out of all control during the popular Student Spring Days festival, which kicked off in Tartu on April 26 and revels on until May 2.
The festival has a long tradition of being the most fun, wild and event-packed student party in the whole of the Baltics. Its time-honored events, such as the Emajogi river rally, which is carried out on improvised vessels, the Valpurgis night festivities or the student fair (the best way to buy university lecture notes!) have set a very high standard indeed for all other would-be student festivals.
The toga party at the Illusioon cinema on April 29 at 9 p.m. will be a fun way to get into the swing of things. The name doesn't leave much to the imagination, and neither should the costumes for that matter.
This year there are a few new events lined up, most of which are connected with sport. The extreme sport events are scheduled for May 1 at 11 a.m., next to Atlantis nightclub.
One of the highlights of the program will doubtless be the soccer cup contest, which will involve Estonian champions FC Flora, Tartu University's team FC Fauna and a politician-packed FC Toompea. Now that should be quite a spectacle.
Lauri Antalainen from FC Fauna, Tartu University's official soccer team which plays in Estonia's third division, says this time the struggle will be much more difficult because of the involvement of FC Flora.
"We have been training hard and we hope to beat FC Flora," said Antalainen. The idea may not be as unreasonable as it seems, since, after all, Fauna usually plays armed with claws and fangs in contrast with the somewhat more conventionally kitted Flora.
As for FC Toompea, the Tartu University team should have no trouble beating a side of paunchy politicians whose concentration skills will likely be blurred by the EU accession headache. In the last four years, FC Fauna has lost only once to FC Toompea in their traditional meeting.
After three 30-minute matches whoever wins will get the cup, which is currently held by FC Fauna.
It is already clear that Social-Democratic former Minister of Social Affairs Eiki Nestor, fast as lightning Justice Minister Ken-Marti Vaher and soccer-obsessed Defense Ministry Chancellor Indrek Kannik will play for FC Toompea. Prime Minister Juhan Parts, who usually plays as striker for the team, will likely be too busy preparing for the EU accession ceremony on May 1 in Dublin and so, sadly, will miss the game.
The Estonian supermodel and European Parliament candidate Carmen Kass will open the contest, which will be held at the 2,000-seat university stadium. It's only a shame that she won't be playing, as she's renowned for her skill in the art of dribbling.
Student Spring Days
Tartu April 26 to May 2,
+372 7 404020
or (from Estonia) 1182
Or visit www.ut.ee/studentdays and click on Kava