Lively cultural life

Lively cultural life

While hundreds of years ago the people in Lääne County probably had more pressing things to do than set up song and dance societies, nowadays the county can be proud of its cultural heritage.

Summer here is the peak season for culture. At this time of year many festivals, concerts and performances take place throughout the county, with something for everyone.

Haapsalu is the home of fine arts; it takes more than ten fingers to count all of the museums and galleries in this peaceful old town. The two most frequently visited are the Episcopal Castle and Ilon’s World of Wonders, but among others are the Museum of the Coastal Swedes and the Railway Museum.

The summer season in the town starts every year with Open Doors Day, when all of its museums, galleries, guilds and cafés open up their doors to welcome visitors from near and far, guaranteeing everyone a memorable day. All those who appreciate a good glass of wine are invited to the Italian Wine Festival in Haapsalu.

The Glass Days and the ‘Pigskin’ festival, on the other hand, offer interesting art experiences.

Haapsalu’s music festivals have a long tradition. If you love classical music, the Early Music Festival in July is for you. If you prefer more modern sounds, the American Beauty Car Show always features a great mix of well-known performers. August Blues fills the town with a pleasantly intimate atmosphere and has become highly appreciated not only by the audience but musicians as well. By far the most famous event in Haapsalu is the annual White Lady Festival under the August full moon. Like magic, the town bustles with life – fairs, concerts, and theatre performances attract visitors and locals alike. Nargenfestival is the longest and the most diverse summer cultural festival in Estonia. The festival offers a varied cultural program - classical music to the best folk music.

Yet there is plenty to do between festivals as well. Concerts and performances are regularly held at the Episcopal Castle and in the Dome Church. Haapsalu’s elegant Resort Hall (Kuursaal) and Promenade are equally fascinating venues throughout the summer. During the winter season, the town’s cultural life moves into the rebuilt Cultural Centre.

Photo: Kalju Juurik

Those interested in cinema should visit the county in spring, when the annual Horror and Fantasy Film Festival creates excitement in Haapsalu, and in autumn when Lihula hosts the International Matsalu Nature Film Festival.

Cultural events take place in different corners of Lääne County. Those who live on the island of Vormsi celebrate St Olaf’s Days in late July in honour of the namesake of their church. The village party in Peraküla, close to Nõva, is held every August and has also gained wider popularity.

Lihula’s cultural life culminates in early August with the Lihula Culture Days. Beautiful music resounds here during the festival, which is organised by the renowned Järvi family. In Kullamaa you can hear about local cultural history in spring during the ‘Sounds of Kullamaa’ art and music festival, and in autumn when it celebrates its town day.

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European Union Regional Development Fund