People increasingly spending the summer in Tartu

Tartu City Day concert at the Car-Free Avenue in June 2023.
Tartu City Day concert at the Car-Free Avenue in June 2023. Source: Maanus Kullamaa / Tartu 2024

While Tartu used to be almost deserted in the summer, people have increasingly started spending the warmer months of the year in Estonia's second largest city.

The streets of Tartu used to be quite deserted in the summertime. Outsiders had little business in the city during the Soviet era as the military airport at Raadi made it a closed city, said Ken Ird, curator of the University of Tartu Museum.

"You could not simply have guests over for long. They were not allowed to spend the night, which is why Tartu was hardly an attractive summer vacation destination," the researcher explained.

Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas said that the city has long prioritized keeping life going also in the summer months. He pointed out that Tartu has gotten more restaurants and hotels over the years and hosts various events.

"We have aimed the Car-Free Avenue (Autovabaduse puiestee) at providing people with activities in the city center, showing them how much there is to do in the city. In early August, we will have the Tartu Food and Wine Festival again to promote that same culture," Klaas said.

The mayor added that Tartu's urban spaces have also come a long way.

"We have promoted life on the Emajõgi as well as its banks. We have the thoroughly reconstructed Emajõe City Beach, which tells people that they do not need to go to Pärnu or someplace else to be near water. That it is possible to have a beach vacation also in Tartu."

Ird also said that the city did not offer such possibilities recently.

"Looking back 30 years, there were fewer such places and events. There were the Taru Music Days but little else happened in the summer."

The locals also said that new ways to spend free time are keeping them in Tartu.

"The Car-Free Avenue is quite nice, you can come here with kids and they can have some fun. There are quite a few events in the summertime now," Tanel said.

"You take a walk to the city center and there's always something going on. We find it very nice. It's nice to come with the kids, while adults can always find a concert or a fair happening," Mariliis said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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