City government to oversee decentralized Christmas market this year

Typical Raekoja plats Christmas market stall in pre-pandemic days.
Typical Raekoja plats Christmas market stall in pre-pandemic days. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Tallinn's traditional Christmas market is to be replaced this year by a more dispersed event, encompassing the entire Old Town and other districts of the capital, due to coronavirus concerns. The city government itself is overseeing the festivities.

"We have a plan of bringing more light, joy, activities and cooperation with our private partners this year," Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said at a press conference Wednesday.

As reported on ERR News, the regular venue of Raekoja plats was rejected as not suitable for maintaining social distancing norms, though the traditional tree will be erected.

Kõlvart noted the new set-up would cover additional locations in the old town, city center and other districts as the capital expects domestic tourists and offers in return plenty of attractions to visitors.

Kõlvart: I won't be playing the Grinch this year

The mayor added that the city's private sector cooperation partner who co-hosted previous Christmas markets had to pull out this year, citing eceonomic factors.

"This is understandable, as the purpose of business is to generate revenue, whereas we know that there will not be many tourists this year, meaning it will not be possible to do so," the mayor said.  

"For us, however, it is important, alongside business, to generate a positive vibe. So there will be a Christmas market, and it will be organized by the government covering the city district of Tallinn."

"The concept will be much broader [than before], to make the whole Old Town become one giant Christmas fairy tale. To do this, we will be bringing in more decorations, more lights and more activities, together with our cooperation partners," Kolvart went on. 

Each Tallinn district will in addition devise a Christmas holiday concept of their own in order for the Christmas feeling to spread city-wide.

"I believe that we can offer positive experiences to residents of our city," Kolvart said, adding, jokingly, that he had no intention of stealing Christmas from Tallinners this year. 

The Christmas market is traditionally a hive of activity for visiting foreign tourists including those from near neighbors Finland and Russia, as well as further afield, but coronavirus travel restrictions in place since spring have been followed by a virtual drying up of foreign tourism.

City Center (Kesklinn) elder Monika Haukanõmm added that her district's council has siged a three-year deal with a private sector firm, 5+ Capital, which will see Christmas market attractions of some form appearing even on Raekoja plats itself, with cultural events as well as the more familiar, but now socially-distanced, stalls.

The public-private cooperation will also stretch to restaurants and cafes in central Tallinn, as well as Christmas lights installations planned for Viru and Pikk streets and guided tours of museums on the horizon.

The full dates for the have not been announced but most years the Christmas market stalls have been unveiled as early as mid-November, and certainly by early December, being put back under wraps as late as the end of January.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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