11th Youth Song and Dance Celebration 1–3 July 2011 at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds

The performances of the 11th song and dance celebration will take place as follows:




The procession of the 11th youth song and dance celebration will start on 3 July at 9 a.m. in Vabaduse väljak in Tallinn.

The 11th youth song and dance celebration will start at song festival grounds in Tallinn on 3 July as soon as the procession ends. The estimated start of the performance is 1 p.m.

Program of the 11th Youth Song Celebration


Program of the 11th Youth Dance Celebration


The traditional components of the song and dance celebration – the opening and final ceremony, dance performances and the song celebration – take place in open air, in the territory of Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.

The public can follow the parade of the song and dance celebration from the beginning to the end (no ticket required). All song and dance celebration participants will walk from the centre of Tallinn to the Song Festival Grounds together in a joint parade. The parade is as important a tradition as the fire of the song and dance celebration which is lit in the lighthouse of the song festival grounds in the beginning of the celebration.

XI Youth Song Celebration (3 July 2011) is almost a 6-hour long concert with different choirs and orchestras performing. The songs and music take the most powerful form when joint choirs start performing.

XI Youth Dance Celebration (1 and 2 July 2011) is almost a 2-hour dance performance with thousands of dancers’ and gymnasts’ groups on the dance ground. Together they form beautiful dance patterns and all in all perform more than 20 different dances and gymnastics’ programmes.

The first dance performance starts with the joint opening ceremony of the XI Youth Song and Dance Festival. The joint choirs will stand on the song stage and the dancers will perform on the area in front of the stage. The lighting of the song and dance celebration fire forms an important part of the opening ceremony.

It is best to follow the dance performance from above as then the beautiful dance patterns will be better to follow. At the same time – sitting close to the performance, the viewers can see the beautiful national costumes that the dancers are wearing, and also the details of the dances.

The story

Song and Dance Celebration, the Estonian says. This is almost a sacred notion. It stands for the true birthday of Song and Dance, a great spiritual feast, a tradition not to be missed.

This is the festive reunion of an ancient folk, gathering from the cities as well as from the countryside;
small as a nation, but impressively large as a family.

Song and Dance Celebration is a true Estonian holiday, the Holy Day of the Heart;
which has been waited for, adorned for;
this is a brief moment of ecstatic togetherness, rising almost into the air in a mythical ship of joy and hope
a ship that has proved to be capable of carrying one nation over the most dangerous, most difficult rocks of time.

/Doris Kareva/

Estonia and Song and Dance Celebration – these two belong together like Norway and skiing or England and the Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

The Song Celebration tradition started in the middle of the 19th century and it has survived all of the twists and turns in Estonia’ s history.

It has defied the hardest of times like a frail plant that pushes its way through concrete with its inner strength and then bursts into bloom. Preceded by some local Song Celebrations, the first nationwide Song Celebration was held in Tartu in 1869.

At the time this was seen as the first attempt at national self-determination, manifested before the Baltic-German rulers: See, we can do something too! Fifty choirs and musical ensembles from all over Estonia performed before an audience of thousands, who experienced a blissful sense of belonging, enhanced by the beauty of the music and the songs.

This celebration evolved into a tradition that still flourishes today. The small nation which started the tradition has had to prove to foreign authorities, even in the 20th century, that they are a fully fledged nation with its own rights and resolves.

Song and Dance Celebrations were not just big festivals of singing and music but a way to demonstrate the national spirit and to strengthen the sense of belonging.

The age of foreign rulers is past but Song and Dance Celebrations are still alive – both local and nationwide.

And this proves how deep and strong is the core, spirit and meaning of Song and Dance Celebrations. It is definitely not only the spirit of protest and resistance that brings hundreds of thousands of Estonians – and an increasing number of guests from around the world – every five years to Tallinn. The total number of performers in the last Song and Dance Celebration in 2009 was 34 000 and they performed before an audience of 200 000.

Rather, it is the unique combination of the sublimity of music and human warmth that a rather distrustful northern nation dares to show during Song Celebrations, much to the surprise of others and its self..

Song and Dance Celebration – this is a joy. Because Song Festivals are irreplacable and unique, they can only be experienced on site.

The next nationwide Song and Dance Celebration is in 2014.

The history

The 1860s marked the beginning of a period of National Awakening. The Song Celebration tradition began with the first Song Celebration organized by Johann Voldemar Jannsen and the “Vanemuine” society in Tartu from 18-20 June 1869. 51 male choirs and brass bands encompassing 845 singers and musicians gathered in Tartu.

The first Song Celebration was high point fot the Estonian national movement. The Song Celebration was also great musical event, which created the Song Celebration tradition. The Song Celebration have taken place regardless of the political situation. The term “singing nation” expresses well the Estonian identity that has united the nation in its struggle for national independence before 1918 and during the period of the Soviet Occupation (1941-1991).

Six Song Celebratins were held from 1879-1910, which played and important role in the nation’s cultural and economic awakening and growth. The tradition of holding Song Celebrations every five years began during the first Estonian independence (1923-1938). Following the end of World War II, the Song Celebration tradition began again in 1947. Since 1950, the Song Celebratios have been held every five years.

The “Singing Revolution” began in 1988, based on the Song Celebration tradition, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the Song Festival Grounds to make political demands and sing patriotical songs.

The first Estonian Games, Dance and Gymnastics festival, held in 1934, was precursor of the present Dance Celebration. 1500 folk dancers performed there.

The greatest Dance Celebration of all times (the 9th) took place in 1970 with over 10000 performers. By then a structure based age groups had developed with performers including toddler and seniors, the dancing veterans. The youngest dancer at this festival was 4 years old and the oldest 76! All the following festivals have had the optimal 8000 performers.
The Dance Celebration is a complete performance with a certain theme. The dancers in their bright national costumes from several colourful patterns on the dance field. The Dance Celebration is usually held on the same weekend as the Song Celebration. These two celebrations commence with a united festive parade through the city from the centre of Tallinn to the Song Festival Grounds.

In the beginning of the 1960s, the number of youth choirs, orchestras, folk-dance groups and participants had increased to such a level that there arose a need for a separate celebration. So, it was decided that a Youth Song and Dance Celebration should be organized. The first was held in 1962 and the next celebration will be held in 2011.

In November 2003, UNESCO declared Estonias’s Song and Dance Celebration tradition a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

In July 2004 about 100 000 people participated in the XXIV Song Celebration and the XVII Dance Celebration, either as performers pr spectators. For the first time in the history of the festival, the dance performace and the official parade were cancelled due to strong rain, however, 7000 people organized a spontaneous parade.

 Source: http://maa-ja-ilm.laulupidu.ee/english/visitor/


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