2018 Ancient Lights Night: Where to go, what to do

Bonfire in Tallinn.
Bonfire in Tallinn.

Tomorrow Saturday the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea celebrate the Ancient Lights night, a tradition revived to raise awareness of the environmental issues of the Baltic Sea and its fragile coastal ecology. On the night of 25 August, hundreds of bonfires will be lit along its shores. Read on for a map and a selection of places to go.

What began as signalling fires of the ancient Vikings a long time ago has become an annual campaign to raise awareness of the environmental problems facing the Baltic Sea area, large areas of which have become dead zones, where almost nothing can survive.

Decades of unsustainable fishing and dredging have destroyed much of the Baltic Sea's habitats, and pollution has resulted in the spread of fast-growing algae that starve other marine flora and fauna of oxygen.

In Estonia, the bonfires are lit this time also as part of the Republic's centennial year celebrations and a week of events surrounding the anniversary of Estonia's regaining its independence from the Soviet Union on 20 April 1991.

A map of all the bonfires around the Baltic Sea can be found on the organisers' website. The Estonian Institute's culture blog also has a list of selected fires and related events.

"Our ancestors lit bonfires on the shores of the Baltic Sea to communicate with seafarers and with their neighbours," the Estonia 100 website states. "The oldest written evidence regarding news sent by means of a bonfire in the Baltic Sea region date back to the age of the Vikings. Each year thousands of people gather along the sea coast on the last Saturday of August to commemorate these ancient fires and to celebrate Ancient Bonfire Night. This tradition was reborn in 1992 in the Finnish town of Turku, and has become popular in the other countries around the Baltic Sea."

The event has been called the Ancient Bonfires Night or Night of the Ancient Bonfires as well.


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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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