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Tartu Christmas village opens for festive season

Tartu Chrstmas village.
Tartu Chrstmas village. Source: ERR

Tartu's Christmas village, featuring a series of brand new glass pavilions and a 1,000 square meter ice skating rink opened in the city's Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats) on Sunday. Visitors can ride a sleigh or a pony and enjoy warm drinks and roast marshmallows over one of the small bonfires in the square.

Some of the more curious Tartuvians arrived in Town Hall Square several hours before the official opening to see what was going on.

"We came to see the tree before the big crowd. We saw it when it was brought here. It was a bit parse the at first, but now it's really nice," Maike, a local, told ERR.

This year's Tartu Christmas tree was brought from the village of Sälliku in Alutaguse Municipality. However, the journey from Ida-Viru County to Tartu turned out to be more arduous than expected, and the tree was damaged by the time it finally arrived to fulfil its Christmas destiny.

Fortunately, it was given some much needed beauty treatment and now, as is traditional, the people of Tartu can come to the square to hang their Christmas wishes on the lower branches of the tree in order for them to reach Jõuluvana (Estonian Santa Claus) in time for the big day.

"It's a bit short, but I don't think it's meant to reach the sky," said two more Tartu residents, Jaanika and Toomas, when asked about this year's tree.

"Well, looking at what was shown on TV, and how the branches had come off, it's super nice now. Made up, so to speak," they added.

The City of Tartu spent around €115,000 on the new glass pavilions, which are part of this year's Christmas village. Much of the outlay will be recouped from the proceeds of ice skate rentals, with the ice skating rink set to remain open until March.

"On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the Tartu Marathon is also here with an exhibition showing the development of skis throughout history," explained Maarja Liba, manager of Tiigi Seltsimaja.

"Then we have a sauna culture (glass) house, a Tartu Song Festival themed house. In each house there is something to either listen to, watch or read, to get a little bit smarter and experience something nice or positive." Liba added.

Tartu Christmas village is open until January 7.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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