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

Tartu - European Capital of Culture Candidate City 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 are working closely together to ensure that Tartu becomes the European Capital of Culture in 2024.

In 2024 Tartu and the Southern Estonian region could be in the centre of the whole Europe.

The City Council of Tartu voted for running for this title in the autumn 2017 and after that Tartu is doing its utmost to put itself at the heart of cultural life across Europe.


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Discussion on Tartu City Day 2017 in Sisevete Saatkond (Inland Waters Embassy) on the river Emajõgi. Photo: Lilian Lukka
Discussion on Tartu City Day 2017 in Sisevete Saatkond (Inland Waters Embassy) on the river Emajõgi. Photo: Lilian Lukka

Viimati muudetud 23.08.2018

UNESCO City of Literature

Since 2015, Tartu has been part of the UNESCO City of Literature network. Other such cities include Baghdad, Barcelona, Dublin, Dunedin, Edinburgh, Granada, Heidelberg, Iowa City, Krakow, Ljubljana, Lviv, Melbourne, Montevideo, Norwich, Nottingham, Obidos, Prague, Reykjavík and Ulyanovsk. 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, which was one of the city’s principal objectives in its nomination to gain the title of UNESCO City of Literature. Every year, the city hands out an award for children’s literature, supports the organisation of literary events in schools and organises regular training events for kindergarten teachers regarding good children’s literature and up-to-date reading methods. In 2017, the Estonian Literary Society will organise the first Children's Literature Festival in Tartu, the purpose of which is to bring children of various ages closer to literature and the art of the written word through engaging endeavours.


Tartu has made investments to renovate the representative centre of the City of Literature (Tartu Literature House), has appointed a City Writer, is training guides for the City of Literature and has made an effort to encourage international cooperation.


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. The first City Writer for Tartu was Kristiina Ehin. The second City Writer was Mika  Keränen. The current City Writer is Vahur Afanasjev.



View the map of the City of Literature

Website of the City of Literature

Photo by Heikki Leis
Photo by Heikki Leis
Mika Keränen. Photo by Ove Maidla
Mika Keränen. Photo by Ove Maidla
Kristiina Ehin. Photo by Ove Maidla
Kristiina Ehin. Photo by Ove Maidla
Vahur Afanasjev. Photo by Karl-Erik-Piirimees
Vahur Afanasjev. Photo by Karl-Erik-Piirimees

Viimati muudetud 12.03.2019

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

Booklet on reputational events

The events calendar “What  takes place in Tartu? 2019” provides an overview of the most important events being held in the city. The booklet has been published  in English,  RussianFinnish, Latvian in addition to Estonian.

What takes place in Tartu? 2019

Viimati muudetud 12.03.2019

Honorary cultural titles of the year

The honorary title of Culture Bearer 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. When selecting a winner in the culture-friendly company category, only proposals from cultural organisations are taken into account. 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 formal ceremony taking place at the beginning of the new year.

Honorary titles are awarded in 10 categories in an effort to recognise and support the diversity of culture.

Culture Bearers 2018

  • The international student festival Gaudeamus 2018, a grand festival that has earned a great deal of positive attention, was awarded the title of Tartu Cultural Event of the Year.
  • Tartu New Theatre was recognised as the Cultural Organisation of the Year for its entrepreneurial, successful and outstandingly creative year.
  • Edward von Lõngus was recognised as the creator of the Work of the Year, for the unique art experiences offered on the streets of Tartu and at Tartu's new art auction, as well as in the capitals of 13 European countries through the project (R)estart Reality.
  • The title of Folk Culture Bearer of the Year was awarded to conductor Riho Leppoja for his heartfelt work, over a long period of time, involving the development of choir music in Tartu and across Estonia, and the directing of the Tartu Youth Choir.
  • Toomas Koitmäe, Director of Development for the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum, was recognised as the Young Culture Bearer of the Year for his bold ideas and execution of projects that have attracted attention.
  • Marika Goldman, former producer at the Vanemuine Theatre, was declared Culture Organiser of the Year for her heartfelt work and outstanding professional activity in promoting Tartu’s cultural life.
  • The Kogo Gallery was named Newcomer of the Year for the opening of a new, modern art exhibiting gallery, and its active work and ambitious exhibition programme.
  • The creators of the Nostalgic Tartu Facebook Community were named Culture Communicators of the Year for their recognition of the culture and history of the City of Tartu.
  • Hotel London was awarded the title of Culture-Friendly Company of the Year for its important and continued support for the self-improvement of dramatic performers from the Vanemuine Theatre.
Tartu New Theatre was recognised as the Cultural Organisation of the Year

Viimati muudetud 12.03.2019

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

Cultural projects

Grant for cultural projects

Private or legal persons can apply for a grant to organise an event or conduct an activity on condition that the event or activity takes place in Tartu or is connected to the city in some other way. The grant is awarded for the organisation of projects planned for the following calendar year.

The application deadline is 15 August.

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

Museum worker scholarship

City of Tartu’s scholarship for museum workers

The objective of the scholarship is to sponsor workers in the city’s museums to:

  • pursue professional self-development;
  • advance their academic, technical and vocational proficiency;
  • acquire and exchange experience; and
  • expand their international relationships and contacts.

The application deadline is 10 February.

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

Viimati muudetud 30.03.2017