Viljandi Folk Music Festival's 'Holy Commotion' ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The 21st traditional music festival, known to many as just Viljandi Folk, got off to a start on Thursday night and continues through Sunday.

With recent festivals arguably getting more profane (replete with drunken revelers), this year's festival is dedicated to the sacred - rituals and feasts of different peoples. The theme is "holy commotion."

"The treasury of folklore is very rich and we use only a very small part of it to mark holidays. Perhaps we can give people inspiration," festival director Ando Kiviberg told ETV.

Udmurt folk singer Maria Korepanova has visited Estonia previously, but has not performed at Viljandi Folk. "As a researcher, collector and performer of Udmurt folk songs, I rejoice to see [folk music continuing to gain popularity]," she said.

Musician Margus Põldsepp has performed at all 21 Folks. Accordion playing has caught on among the younger set, he said. "There are accordion clubs everywhere and many young instrumentalists both male and female belong to them," Põldsepp said.

Folk, one of the premier music festivals in the country, sees a flood of visitors from northern Estonia and vendors and local businesses have been accommodating this year.

"There are additional lodging places and luckily we aren't in the same situation as we were 10 years ago when all of Viljandi County was fully booked and there were no places left. Today it is still possible for those who look hard to find lodging. Saturday night will be the fullest," said Viljandi tourism information center director Angela Aru.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who has a farm outside Viljandi and opened the festival, invited Latvian President Andris Berziņš to attend as well. Berziņš gave Ilves a replica of Terra Mariana, an album of the history of Old Livonia weighing more than 50 kilograms. The original volume, from 1888, is in the Vatican.

The festival will also boast workshops and a re-enactment of a Seto wedding.