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The skating rink in Tartu, 2020, Source: Mana Kaasik / tartu.ee

Christmas City Tartu returns with a vengeance

Christmas City Tartu returns with a vengeance

A majestic spruce, 1000 m2 skating rink, poetry ATM, aquarium, Mars Rover house and more are in store for residents and guests of Estonia’s second-largest city

Concentrations of heavy machinery and piles of sand on Town Hall Square in Tartu, Estonia, this week should not be a point of concern to environmentalists. As a matter of fact, works are underway for the construction of the traditional Village of Light and the adjacent 1000-square-metre skating rink which must be complete by the first Advent Sunday. The Christmas tree has already arrived.

Military presence

For the first time in Christmas City Tartu’s history, officers from the 33 Armoured Engineer Squadron of the NATO Battle group are volunteering to help with the construction, informs the city website. Specialists from Finland, young people from Tartu Vocational Education Centre and the Military Academy and the employees of OÜ Giga Investeeringud and Ehitustrust AS will also lend a hand.

Attractions old and new

Returning to the Village of Light despite the pandemic will be coffee and gingerbread vendors, sleighs and ponies offering rides, the classic straw house, an animated film pavilion, wooden animal carousels and fire cauldrons.

This year’s novelties include an aquarium with native fish built in cooperation with the Limnology Centre of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, an ice cream pavilion, a poetry ATM that dispenses poems instead of cash, a Tartu Health Care College pavilion and an UT Tartu Observatory Mars rover house.

The glass pavilions of the Village of Light will be furnished by theatre artist Laura Pählapuu, artist and designer Martin Rästa and the children of the Tartu branch of the School of Architecture. The pavilions will be open to visitors from 28 November to 9 January. The skating rink by the 'Kissing Students' fountain will operate until the end of February.

Apart from permanent attractions, some events are planned in the programme of Christmas city Tartu, but whether they will happen will depend on the scope of national restrictions against Covid-19.

Christmas tree

This year, Tartu city government launched a call for spruce offers from landowners who planned to cut down a large pine tree in their property for some reason. In total, about a dozen offers were received, of which an 18 m high spruce tree growing in the village of Koloreino in Võru County was selected.

36-year-old Martin Lupp, the owner of the property, said he was pleased to be able to send a tree from his backyard to the people of Tartu for Christmas. Nevertheless, he felt a little bit sorry, as he had grown together with the spruce which was a little sapling when he was born.

The spruce has been transported to Tartu by Roheline Ruum OÜ, which will install it, maintain it throughout the holidays and dismantle it after 17 January.

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