The main programme of Viljandi Folk Music Festival, which takes place on 27–30 July 2023, includes more than 70 concerts on nine stages. In addition to the main programme concerts in the pass holder’s area, there are almost 70 free concerts on the two town stages and everyone can enter the perimeter area for free.
The perimeter, which begins at the Freedom Square, adjoins the pass holder’s area, located at The Song Festival Grounds, near the Traditional Music Centre and in the castle hills. The perimeter is open and free of charge, but everyone entering is required to go through a security check. There is a food court, children’s area, handicraft yard and the Green Stage in the perimeter.
The Green Stage is in its traditional location, on the lawn between St John’s Church and Tasuja puiestee. More than fifty concerts take place there.
“Viljandi Folk Music Festival has reached a dignified age and this has given the organizers a chance to get a bit nostalgic, in a good way. For that reason, we decided that the people of Viljandi must have a chance to enjoy the Green Stage programme and the delights of the food court for free - like in the first years of the festival. A good and friendly relationship with our people is very important to us,” said the head of the festival Ando Kiviberg.
You can find another stage in the centre of the town where everyone can enjoy the lively buzz of the festival for free. “Õlleõu (the beer yard, literally) was a phenomenon that was also an important part of the first festivals. Back then the heart of the party was in Culture College, based in the building that is now The Park Hotel. Õlleõu was like an artery of the festival and it was located in the place, where today the beautiful hotel lobby and atrium are,” Kiviberg remembers.
Õlleõu is open on all four days of the festival, at 13–23. Authentic village musicians will give four concerts every day, at 16–20 (Yard of Lossi 6)
For the 30th anniversary of the festival, the organizers have decided to combine two ideas - to pay a tribute to the early years of the festival and to create a cosy venue for the real village musicians. “Hopefully this addition pleases all those who prefer to enjoy the festival without buying a ticket because the concerts on that stage are for free,” the head of the festival said.
The folk music festival that takes place in Viljandi Castle Hills and city center every July is the ultimate expression of the unique way of thinking that started spreading in the beginning of the 1990s. It values tradition, heritage and local identity and tries to adapt the spiritual values that people have developed over hundreds and thousands of years to the contemporary way of life. The aim of all of it is to keep our traditions alive, strengthen our national character and invigorate our musical mother tongue. Our youthful and happy festival guests are cheerful and caring towards their surroundings and themselves, and open to the opportunities of falling in love and delving deep into something. That's the spirit of the festival!
Viljandi Folk Music Festival has become one of the largest of its kind in the Baltic and Nordic countries.