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Viljandi Folk Music Festival: four days filled with a lively programme

Viljandi Folk Music Festival, taking place July 22-25, brings around 30 Estonian artists and eight performers from abroad to the stage. The eased restrictions on organising large events in Estonia allows the festival to sell more festival and day passes, but all guests still need to be ready to prove that they aren’t contagious of Covid-19.
Tarmo Noormaa, the Programme manager for VFMF, describes this year’s festival as lively, versatile and filled with dance. “We’ve got Estonian performers who have already proven to be audience magnets like Puuluup, Trad.Attack!, Curly Strings, Zetod, Duo Ruut, Tintura, Svjata Vatra and Untsakad taking the stage,” he explains. “NOËP is putting together a programme especially for our event and Naised Köögis (Ladies in the Kitchen) will also be tackling this year’s festival theme - playing together in harmony - from the prism of love.”

For those looking for a slightly heavier experience, Metsatöll and Riffarrica are performing together on the same stage. Estonian band Black Bread Gone Mad who classify their music as proge-rebel will be introducing their new album and Regiram who combine runo song, instrumental music and the national male choir will be offering an exceptionally powerful experience for the guests.

The programme also includes a memorial concert to the legendary ethnographer and traditional instrument researcher Igor Tõnurist and a number of performances by young traditional musicians. “I’m confident that fresh newcomers like Pärlin, instrumentalist Martin Arak or Kaisa Kuslapuu and Karl Laanekask who play humorous traditional music will find a fanbase,” says Tarmo Noormaa.

From abroad, the programme features the Danish dance band Mads Hansen’s Kapel, soulful Italian singer Maria Mazzotta together with the accordion player Bruno Galleone and the Flemish trio of brothers Trio Dhoore. Finland will be represented by the accordion player Antti Paalanen and the dance music group 5/5. The guests can also enjoy a concert by the beloved Georgian male choir Tbilisi, rhythmic PásztorHóra from Hungary and Seán Garvey who sings in the old Irish singing style together and takes the stage with Kärt Johanson.

Commenting the size of the festival, the Head of Festival Ando Kiviberg says that the festival will be much larger than it was feared that could be organised at the beginning of the year, but the current situation will still set some boundaries to what can be done. “We had the nerve to wait until the virus was retreating and I’m hoping that the restrictions for large events will be eased even further,” says Kiviberg. “At the moment, in the light of the current requirements, we’re planning a pass-only festival and we’ll find out before the festival whether we can sell any single tickets to the concerts.”

Based on current requirements, an events organiser who wants to have more than 1000 guests at the event needs to guarantee safety from infection for all guests. To achieve this, all guests need to prove that they are either vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus or tested negative for the virus.

How the testing of the festival guests will be organised, whether it will be necessary at the end of July and who will be paying for it, will be announced by the organisers on July 5.

As the current requirements - provided that they’ll stay in place - might not be suitable for some festival guests, the organisers are happy to extend the pass to the next year’s festival or provide a refund. Applications to do so will be collected between 5-18 July with more detailed guidance being published on July 5.

XXVIII Viljandi Folk Music Festival takes place on July 22-25, 2021 and the theme for the festival is “In Harmony”. A detailed list of all the performers can be found on the festival website where the programme is divided into days. A more detailed programme will be revealed by July 5. The concerts will take place at the first and second Kirsimägi venues, Kaevumägi and the Traditional Music Centre.

Around 3300 passes have already been sold for this year’s festival. Starting from today, June 15, a limited number of festival passes, youngster’s passes, senior passes and day passes will be available to purchase. Tickets can be purchased from the festival home page and Ticketer.