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Tartu has a unique cultural life. The city is an ideal environment for people engaged with professional, folk and alternative culture. Tartu is home to interesting museums as well as theatres and concert halls with diverse repertoires. Interesting and exciting festivals take place all year round. Thanks to Tartu’s top athletes and major sports events, the city’s sports life is also well-known beyond Estonia’s national borders.

Department of Culture

+372 736 1360
[email protected]

Raekoja plats 12, 51004 Tartu

Tartu - European Capital of Culture 2024
UNESCO City of Literature
Reputational events

Tartu - European Capital of Culture 2024

European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) is one of the most recognised and treasured EU projects that started already in 1985.
By 2020 60 European cities will have held the title.

It brings together all ideas, people and stakeholders in the city or region. Through culture and art, Tartu as an European Capital of Culture improves the quality of life and strengthens its sense of community. Among the rest.

Tartu and the local governments of Southern Estonia worked closely together to ensure that Tartu became the European Capital of Culture in 2024.
In 2024 Tartu and the Southern Estonian region is the centre of the whole Europe.

Arts of Survival

"ARTS OF SURVIVAL" ...is the leading theme of our Tartu 2024 bid books and our artistic concept. 

"Arts of Survival" is meant to express the power of the arts in affecting Europe’s future in three larger areas of life: environmentally friendly culture with a focus on real human communication, strong communities and essential skills for living and, indeed, survival in the coming years.

With messages and actions that value the individual and with the help of our Southern Estonian partners, even a city the size of Tartu can stand out in 21st century Europe.

The three main themes where the Arts of Survival come to life are as follows: "Tartu with Earth: Ecology Before Economy", "Tartu with Humanity; Forward to the Roots", "Tartu with Europe: Greater Smaller Cities". Each of these programme lines consists a number of transversal, transnational and transgenerational projects which open up the "Arts of Survival" values.


See more


Last changed 07.12.2020

UNESCO City of Literature

Since 2015, Tartu has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, designated as a City of Literature. There UCCN covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts. In the Cities of Literature Network Tartu collaborates with 31 other cities all across the world:  Angoulême, Baghdad, Barcelona, Beirut, Bucheon, Dublin, Dunedin, Durban, Edinburgh, Exeter, Göteborg, Granada, Heidelberg, Iowa City, Jakarta, Krakow, Kuhmo, Lahore, Leeuwarden, Lillehammer, Ljubljana, Lviv, Manchester, Melbourne, Milano, Montevideo, Nanjing, Norwich, Nottingham, Obidos, Odessa, Prague, Québec City, Reykjavík, Seattle, Slemani, Ulyanovsk, Utrecht, Vilnius, Wonju, and Wroclaw.  The activities of the City of Literature are coordinated by the Estonian Literary Society, which also works with the Department of Culture of the City of Tartu.

Since receiving the title, Tartu has placed greater emphasis on increasing the literary interests of children and young people, expanded international collaboration, supported the mobility of writers through residencies and exchange programs, and increased the visibility of local writers in the international arena. Tartu has also made investments to renovate the representative centre of the City of Literature (Tartu Literature House), has appointed a City Writer, has trained guides for the City of Literature and offers support for schools to invite writers to perform.

One of the guides to different locations in literary Tartu is a map (in Estonian and English) that features, among other things, a reading recommendation on the topic of Tartu.

As of 2017, the City of Tartu also awards a year-long City Writer scholarship. There have been 6 City Writers so far: Kristiina Ehin (2017), Mika  Keränen (2018), Vahur Afanasjev (2019), Carolina Pihelgas (2020), Juhan Voolaid (2021) and Paavo Matsin (2022).


View the map of the City of Literature

Website of the City of Literature

Photo by Heikki Leis
Photo by Heikki Leis

Last changed 12.12.2022

Reputational events

Tartu is a university city with a vivid and colourful cultural life that is renowned for its youthful atmosphere. In addition, Tartu also hosts a range of high-ranking events that are international in scope. For example, the skiing event Tartu Maraton is one of the oldest ski marathons in the world, with 55 years of history. The marathon is also hard to outdo in terms of the number of participants it attracts and its level of organisation. Tartu Hanseatic Days and the Hansa Fair have been entertaining residents of Tartu in early July for more than 20 years. In August, Town Hall Square transforms into an outdoor cinema for the week-long Tartu Love Film Festival tARTuFF. At the start of September, Tartu hosts the theatre festival Draama, bringing together the very best of Estonian theatre. Tartu is also known around the world for its street art, which is celebrated with the annual street art festival Stencibility.

There are plenty of other exciting high-profile events that regularly take place in Tartu. Read the “What takes place in Tartu?” booklet on reputational events to learn more about what is going on in Tartu.

Photo by Sander Hiire
Photo by Sander Hiire

Suursündmused 2023

Sündmus Kuupäev
Festivali Ümberlülitus 03.-06.05
Kevadlaat 06.05.
Kirjandusfestival Prima Vista 08.-13.05
Tartu Maastikumaraton  14.05.
Karlova Päevad 18.-21.05
Muuseumiöö 20.05.
Tour of Estonia 25.-27.05
Tartu Rattaralli  28.05.
Tartu Võimlemispidu 06.06.
Estonian Fashion Festival  07.-09.06
Tartu linna päev 29.06.
Autovabaduse pst 29.06.-05.08
Emajõe Festival 01.07.
Festival Klaaspärlimäng  06.-12.07.
Hansalaat 08.-09.07
Tartu Superenduro  14.-16.07
Rally Estonia 20.-23.-07
Vanemuise sümfooniaorkestri suvekontsert 30.07.
Festival Tartuff  31.07-06.08
Jalgpallifestival Tartu Culture Cup  02.-05.08
Tartu toidu- ja veinifestival 04.-05.08
Väntorelite Suvepäevad  04.-06.08
Rullsuusatamise Maailmameistrivõistlusted 10.-13.08
Ihaste päev 12.08.
Tammelinna päevad 13.-16.09
Annelinna päev 15.09.
Linnafestival UIT 16.-19.08
Draama festival 05.-10.09
Vanemuise hooaja avafestival 26.08.
Motoshow 08.-10.09
Maarjalaat 09.09.
MK etapp võistlustantsus WDSF Tartu Open  09.09.
Slaavi Kultuuri Ühingu 25. Ball  16.09.
Tartu Rattamaraton  17.09.
Tartu Tudengipäevad: Sügis 19.-25.09
AniMatsuri 23.-24.09
Friday Night Run 06.10.
Tartu Linnamarton 07.10.
Festival „Orient et Occident”  20.-23.10
Festival iDeeJazz 26.-28.10
Festival AFEKT 27.-31.10
Hingede öö festival 01.-05.11
PÖFF Tartu  10.-26.11
Rahvatantsuansamblite galakontsert 25.11.
TRT Dance Masters - European Dance Championships 09.-10.12
Jõululaat 09.12.


Rohkem sündmusi leiab Kultuuriaknast

Booklet on reputational events

The events calendar “What  takes place in Tartu? 2021” provides an overview of the most important events being held in the city. The booklet has been published  in English,  RussianFinnish,  Latvian, German in addition to Estonian.

What takes place in Tartu? 2021

What Takes Place in Tartu? 2021

Last changed 29.03.2022

Honorary Cultural Titles of the Year

The honorary title of Kultuurikandja is a way for the City of Tartu to recognise people and collectives in Tartu for their remarkable cultural achievements in the preceding 12 months, or people and collectives whose work and activities have contributed significantly to the creation of cultural values in the city.

Everyone is welcome to nominate candidates for honorary titles. The winners are chosen by a broad-ranging committee established under the order of the Department of Culture of Tartu City Government which is made up of pre-eminent experts in different fields of culture.

The winners of the honorary titles awarded for creative achievements in the previous year are announced during a ceremony taking place at the beginning of the new year. Honorary titles are awarded in 8 categories in an effort to recognise and support the diversity of culture.

Honorary Titles 2020

  • Cultural Event of the Year:  Car-Free Avenue 
  • Cultural Organisation of the Year: Estonian National Museum
  • Creator of the Year: composer Mihkel Zilmer 
  • Kultuurikandja of Folk Culture of the Year: artistic director of the Folk Dance Ensemble of Tartu University Aveli Asber
  • Young Kultuurikandja of the Year:  composer and oboist Gregor Kulla
  • Culture Manager of the Year:  Krisztina Tóth
  • Newcomer of the Year: tARTu shop
  • Culture Reflector of the Year:  drama critic Karin Allik

14. veebruaril 2023 Eesti Rahva Muuseumis toimunud tänusündmusel andis Tartu linn välja üheksas kategoorias Tartu Kultuurikandja aunimetuse inimestele ja kollektiividele, kes on aasta jooksul Tartu kultuurielus eriti tugevalt silma paistnud. Vaata lähemalt.

Photos: Gabriela Urm

Last changed 17.02.2023

Grants for cultural projects and activities

Recreational activities

Grant for recreational activities organised by cultural associations

Non-profit associations, foundations and societies without legal entity status organising recreational folk culture activities in hobby groups can apply for the grant.

Recreational folk culture activities are artistic hobby activities based on traditional culture and national traditions in the fields of choir singing, folk dancing, brass-band music, traditional folk music, amateur theatre, national handicrafts and folklore.

The grant issued to a cultural society consists of a capitation fee and/or achievement grant. The society receives a capitation fee tax for every practitioner whose age is either 7-26 or over 60 who lives in Tartu according to the Estonian population register and who has (or whose legal representative has) noted the corresponding hobby group as their preferred activity in the field of folk culture.

The application deadline is 1 September.

You can submit an application in the online environment www.tartu.ee/kotoetused. The site is in Estonian.

Photo by Heikki Leis
Photo by Heikki Leis

Support Measures for Culture

  • Support for Cultural Projects

Support for a juridical person organizing an event or a series of events, that is either in Tartu or which is in another way connected with Tartu, and takes place at a specified time.

This measure has two sub-categories: support for projects from €5001 up to €50 000 (application deadline once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee) and support for projects up to €5000 (application deadline three times a year and the application is evaluated by the Department of Culture).

  • Support for Cultural Programmes

Support for non-profit and non-government organisations and foundations that provide a year-round (at least 10 months a year) cultural programme, that is either in Tartu or which is in another way connected with Tartu, and is aimed at the public.  Support for residency programmes is also available under this measure.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee.

  • Three-year-long Support for Cultural Activities

Support for non-profit and non-government organisations and foundations that provide a year-round (at least 10 months a year) cultural programme, that is either in Tartu or which is in another way connected with Tartu, and is aimed at the public. 

Conditions for applying: must have at least 10% self-earned income per calendar year; the applicant must provide a development plan; applicants must have been supported through Tartu City support measures for culture for at least the three years prior to applying.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee. Support is given for three years.

  • Cultural Mobility Scheme

Support for non-profit and non-government organisations’ and foundations’ employees or members, cultural collectives to either represent Tartu at foreign festivals and competitions or take part in international network meetings or meetings for international co-operation.

Support per person is calculated by the zone of destination country:
Zone A: Destination is Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden or Pskov/Leningrad oblast in Russia
Zone B: Destination is other European countries not named before and the rest of Russia
Zone C: Destination is countries outside of Europe and Russia

Applying is possible throughout the year and the application is evaluated by the Department of Culture.

  • Investment Support

Support for small investments: building and reconstruction of facilities, acquiring and installation of equipment needed for cultural production or for the providing of cultural goods and services.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee. Support size is between €5000 and €10 000.

  • Development Support for Cultural Organisations

Support for actions that significantly increase the operational capability of cultural organisations.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee. Support size is between €5000 and €10 000.


You can submit an application in the online environment www.tartu.ee/kotoetused. The site is in Estonian.

Photo by Meelis Lokk
Photo by Meelis Lokk

Last changed 16.12.2021