Winter trails in Varnja

Winter trails in Varnja: 21.01-27.01.2024

Winter Trails in Emajõe-Suursoo Wetlands takes the seeker of a special natural experience to the frozen marsh trails to experience the heritage and soundscapes in three different places: Varnja, Ahunapalu and Emajõe-Suursoo Keskus. During three weeks in the middle of the darkest and coldest Estonian winter guided hiking tours and many cultural events will take place in the wetlands.

The unique network of historic winter trails which hides in Emajõe-Suursoo leads to an extraordinary journey through time. In ancient times, seasonal winter trails formed in frozen marshes connected isolated communities and shortened distances. Today, these unique preserved routes are mostly used by wild animals and rarely by humans.

The cultural-historical importance of the trails is celebrated with various events from January 21 to February 10, 2024 at the Winter Trails festival, born in cooperation between three municipalities bordering Emajõe-Suursoo.

Although today we know Varja mainly because it is nice to go fishing on the ice with karakatits in winter, 3 winter trails went through it in the former times. In Varnja, we put together two eras – former winter trails and karakatistas. We bring an exhibition of winter roads to Varnja, visit over the lake Peipsi winter trails, take full-moon ski hikes, offer uhhaa, go to the sauna and swim to the ice hole.

A winter trail – what is it? Today, the winter trail is just a strange line running across the marsh on the map, where one cannot easily get, because the ground is moist and unknown and there is nothing to be done there.

But in the old days there were winter trails that led across lakes, swamps and bogs, used to get home quicker, to visit friends or to get to the market faster and easier.

The festival travels week by week from one special point of the Emajõe-Suursoo Wetlands to another, like a horse-drawn wagon across the frozen marsh. At the end of January, ice trucks race on Lake Peipsi and the crisp winter air becons at the full moon dinner in Varnja. At the beginning of February, cultural-historical and literary bog trips take place in the mysterious end of the world in Ahunapalu. The festival ends with a magical night concert and a documentary film program in the Emajõe-Suursoo Keskus.

Choose for yourself whether you will hike the old winter trail with skis, sleds or snowshoes. Renew former customs at an exhibition set up in the forest, audio tours, documentaries and lectures.

Come with us to the winter trails of Emajõe-Suursoo!

The cooperation project of Luunja, Kastre and Peipsiääre municipalities is part of the South Estonian community program that is part of the main program of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 and is supported by Leader action groups.