Gallery: 9,000 people attend Paide Opinion Festival

Around 9,000 people attended the seventh annual Opinion Festival (Estonian: Arvamusfestival) in the central Estonian town of Paide over the weekend.

A total of 160 discussion sessions were held over the two days, Friday Aug. 9 to Saturday Aug. 10, BNS reports, ranging in topic from the future of the Estonian language to the energy revolution to smart cities and more.

Saturday evening saw the climax discussion, involving four of the five parliamentary party leaders, Jüri Ratas (Centre), Mart Helme (EKRE), Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa) and Indrek Saar (SDE), though Reform leader Kaja Kallas did not participate.

A total of over 700 took part in panel discussions, the vast majority of which were in Estonian, though several English language panels took place including a closed hosted by the British Embassy to Estonia, a discussion on smart cities involving  UK smart city expert Dr Jacqui Taylor,  and an ERR News panel on (im)migration, which included foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Russian-language panel discussions also took place.

The Opinion Festival's volunteer team numbered around 300 people, and a youth event had already been held a few days before.

Maiu Lauring, festival organizer, noted that rainy weather on the Friday did not deter attendees, who were able to shelter under the cover of marquees which most panel discussions provided. Saturday saw much sunnier weather.

"We need to build stronger and more meaningful relationships to cope with the challenges facing us in the future," Lauring said of the event.

"I believe that each and every conversation at the festival took us a step closer to that," she continued.

Next year's Opinion Festival will take place on Aug. 7-8, it is reported.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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