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Fifth Estonian-Swedish Song and Dance Festival set for Haapsalu in July

The Estonian Swedes Song and Dance Festival in 2021.
The Estonian Swedes Song and Dance Festival in 2021. Source: ERR

The fifth Estonian-Swedish Song and Dance Festival is set to take place this July at Haapsalu Castle. The theme for the festival is "Farther and Closer".

"The program will feature music that has been created and kept alive among the coastal Swedes as well as from 'further afield,' which means that we will also include songs, dances and music from the countries with which the Estonian Swedes were in contact," said Sofia Joons Gylling, artistic director of the 2024 festival.

Gylling added that the Estonian-Swedish Song and Dance Festival feels like a reunion. In addition to those from Estonia, there will also be participants from Sweden and Finland and the festival will be bilingual, with both Estonian and Swedish used.

"The most important thing is not who is who, but that together we create a bilingual party where everyone is welcome and welcomed extremely warmly," she said.

The first Estonian-Swedish Song Festival was held in 1933. However, the tradition was only revived in 2013 after an 80-year hiatus, when the second Estonian-Swedish Song Festival finally took place. Haapsalu Castle also hosted the most recent, or fourth, Estonian-Swedish Song and Dance Festival in 2021.

"The idea behind the first Song Festival was largely the brainchild of composer Cyrillus Kreek, who learned Swedish while living in Vormsi in his youth. He also took it upon himself to study and write down the folk songs and chorales of the Estonian Swedes," said Ülo Kalm, director of Haapsalu's Museum of the Coastal Swedes.

The fifth Estonian-Swedish Song and Dance Festival will take place in Haapsalu Castle on July 6, 2024. The dance component of the festival will be directed by Sille Kapper-Tiisler.

The Estonian Swedes, also known as "Coastal Swedes" (rannarootslased), are a Swedish-speaking minority traditionally residing in the coastal areas and islands of what is now western and northern Estonia. 


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Editor: Michael Cole

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