Welcome word

South Estonian communities open their doors and hearts

In 2024, Tartu together with Southern Estonia will proudly bear the title of European Capital of Culture. We welcome with open arms all visitors to explore this culturally rich region and its diverse nature. For this reason, we have also launched the South Estonian Community Programme as part of the capital of culture initiative. The programme serves an important purpose – to open the doors for visitors to explore those things most valued by locals. 

The South Estonian Community Programme involves 20 projects encompassing a total of one hundred different community events. Whether it’s a joint river excursion, communal work days, a community performance, a hike, a festival or any other endeavour – all these events, born out of joint creative efforts, are marked by local identity and provide a strong sense of communal spirit.

Kristiina Tammets. Photo by Terje Atonen

The South Estonian mindset and lifestyle are also evident in this book and its photos. The very stories that speak of the values of Southern Estonia also beautifully encapsulate the essence of the South Estonian Community Programme. Centuries old local lore and sense of identity continue to thrive in our communities and its people who actively organise community events and lend the entire cultural capital its authenticity.

The community programme is implemented by South Estonian communities, local governments, entrepreneurs and LEADER action groups. At this point, LAGs Tartu County Development Association, Valga County Partnerships Board, Borderlands Leader and Võrumaa Partnership Assembly have worked together for more than ten years; as such, the community programme is a natural continuation of their long-term cooperation.

The European capital of culture provides a significant developmental impulse to the entire region, encouraging us to create new solutions and foster cooperation both locally and internationally. The concept of the capital of culture – The Arts of Survival – focuses on and reinforces themes such as circular economy, the environmentally friendly organisation of events, accessibility to different interest groups and the involvement of the young and old as well as those with special needs. The integration of various fields, volunteer work and co-creation are equally important. All of this also characterises our community events, allowing you to experience Southern Estonia, its authentic and unique value space in a way that the locals themselves do – with an open mind and heart!

After the capital of culture programme, Southern Estonia will no longer be the same – in a positive sense! We have become even more united and open, we have acquired new knowledge and experiences, we have experimented with innovative solutions and we have enhanced our cultural heritage. But most importantly, we have made many new friends both in our own communities and throughout other parts of Estonia, Europe and beyond.

I wish you all an exciting time delving deep into the South Estonian value space and many delightful experiences!

Kristiina Tammets
Coordinator of Tartu 2024 South Estonian Community Programme
CEO of Tartu County Development Association

More information about the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 South Estonia Community Programme