The South Estonian town of Otepää has started its official season as Estonia's winter capital, for the 25th time, ETV news show Aktuaalne kaamera (AK) reported Sunday.
Of hopes for the rest of this winter, Kaarel Oja (SDE)– said these were: "That the snow that began to accumulate today would keep coming, and that it would last until the spring solstice. Long live the winter capital of Otepää."
Jaanus Barkala, Otepää rural municipality mayor, said of the annual tradition, which has been going for quarter-of-a-century now, that: "There's never been an idea to end it, but rather, it will get better all the time," listing the resort's ski trails and natural environment as its other appealing areas.
Local residents also praised the winter season, which also sees an uptick in business for those that are engaged along those lines. "We are in the middle of nature, we have clean air. We get food on the table. We feel pretty good," Aili Mitt, of the nearby Väikse-Järve farm told AK.
Voldemar Tasa, village elder at Arula, just to the west of Otepää, said: "It is winter in the village of Arula – or in the former manor lands of Arula. When snow has appeared on Kuutsemägi, life has already started in the winter," referring to a nearby hill, which is also home to a winter ski resort.
Fireworks marked the official start of this year's winter capital status for Otepää, a practice which, AK said, has led to the town's brand as a winter sports resort getting an international profile.
Villages such as Arula were represented in the town's central square, with local produce including honey, pastries, candles, socks on sale.
Editor: Andrew Whyte