Welcome word

See you in Tartu – European Capital of Culture 2024!

European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 is one of the greatest events in our history and one which we have been preparing for in partnership with Southern Estonia. The city of Tartu in close collaboration with Tartu County, Põlva County, Võru County, Valga County and Viljandi – a total of 20 local governments full of inspiring people – is organising more than 300 events for different audiences of all ages and in various fields.

The city of Tartu – a strong hub, the oldest city in the Baltic States, a university town and a centre of innovation – is rightfully the capital of Southern Estonia. It is a magnet city and a gateway to those interested in exploring Southern Estonia or making their home here.

Kuldar Leis. Photo by Mana Kaasik

Why come to Southern Estonia – perhaps for a short visit, and then hopefully for good? There are many reasons why one might choose to make this place their home, but one that is rarely mentioned is its dispersed settlement. Capital cities in Europe and across the world are struggling to come to terms with overcrowding, noise, pollution and endless hustle. Here, in Southern Estonia, we are located at a respectful distance from our neighbours and yet it usually takes just an hour or less to visit friends or enjoy culture events – such as those of Tartu 2024 – in any place in Southern Estonia. The charms of Southern Estonia, as highlighted in this book, will also become apparent when you participate in the community events organised as part of the capital of culture programme.

To me, Southern Estonia is all about the great number of inspiring people who call this place home and work here in their vibrant communities; they include the Seto people, people from the Võro dialect area, people from Mulgimaa, old believers and Kodavere people, among many others. When we began planning for the events of the capital of culture programme, we were positively surprised by the number of people who showed a desire to contribute, and their numbers keep growing. Southern Estonia is definitely smoke saunas, tranquillity, hospitality and openness. These treasures are available for everyone who wants to join us and open their heart to the values that the region has to offer.

I hope you enjoy our stories and see you in Tartu – European Capital of Culture 2024!

Kuldar Leis
CEO of Tartu 2024 Foundation

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