Estonia Theater to host this year's Independence Day presidential reception

President Alar Karis and First Lady Sirje Karis at last year's Independence Day event, which, due to Covid restrictions, was held without guests.
President Alar Karis and First Lady Sirje Karis at last year's Independence Day event, which, due to Covid restrictions, was held without guests. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

This year's Independence Day Presidential Reception, the first full event to have been held since 2019, and the first for President Alar Karis, will take place at the Estonia Theater, in central Tallinn.

While the reception was off the calendar in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and replaced by a concert only, it is now taking place in full this year, albeit with some changes, in particular to the greeting process of guests.

President Alar Karis' communications advisor Indrek Treufeldt said ahead of the celebration, held on February 24 and a national holiday, that: "The Anniversary of the Republic is a day of celebration for the people of Estonia, one where we celebrate our independence."

"It is both dignified and tradition-driven, but it must also be innovative, and in step with the times," Treufeldt went on, via a presidential office press release.

"In this way, President Karis has also desired to bring his own innovations to the traditions of the anniversary, this time starting with changes in the greeting of guests," he went on, adding that further changes are in mind for subsequent years.

The main change announced will see the president and the first lady, Sirje Karis, receive the long line of guests more rapidly than has been the case in previous years and without a ceremonial herald.

Readers may recall the process of receiving guests, mostly made up of foreign dignitaries, along with the crème de la crème of Estonian society, plus others, took the best part of three hours.

This added to the day's major events, starting at around 7 a.m., makes for a rather long day for any Estonian head of state, their consort, and others involved.

Another presidential communications advisor, Mariann Sudakov, rejected claims that the invitations to the reception were delayed in being sent out.

Sudakov said: "There was no delay in sending out the invitations to the Independence Day reception; they went out last week. Even in the previous years, when guests had been invited to the Independence Day reception, the invitations were sent out no later than the second week of January."

This year's event may also be somewhat more somber given that it marks the first anniversary of the full scale invasion of Ukraine, launched by the Russian Federation on February 24, 2022.

The traditional concert this year takes the theme of the need to stay together, to evaluate oneself and value the essence of timelessness in this current, volatile world. 

All this is illustrated by the versatile word and sound of cultural creation in both Estonia and in the world, organizers say.

Artistic director and concert director this year is Renate Keerd, assisted by artist Kairi Mändla, lighting designer René Liivamägi, conductor Ingrid Roose and producer Priit Mikk.

The president's traditional speech, the gala concert and the abridged greetings ceremony, plus other happenings, will be carried live on the day by ETV, along with all the day's events, starting with the traditional flag-raising on Toompea.

Ove Musting (director) and Hannela Lippus (producer) will oversee the evening broadcast.

The traditional ceremony of handing over national decorations is also to take place near the capital, at the Viimsi Artium center.

As noted the Independence Day reception takes place in the Estonia Theater and Concert Hall, home of the Estonian National Opera (Rahvusooper). It is actually making a return having been held there last year, but that time as noted, without guests. The last time a full reception took place on February 24, 2019, President Kersti Kaljulaid was head of state, and the event took place in the central Estonian town of Paide.

February 24 is a national holiday in Estonia. Since it falls on a Friday this year it effectively spells a long weekend for many.

The date marks the foundation of the Estonian state, in 1918.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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