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Tartu has a unique cultural life. The city is an ideal environment for people engaged with professional, folk and alternative culture. Tartu is home to interesting museums as well as theatres and concert halls with diverse repertoires. Interesting and exciting festivals take place all year round. Thanks to Tartu’s top athletes and major sports events, the city’s sports life is also well-known beyond Estonia’s national borders.

Department of Culture

+372 736 1360

Raekoja plats 12, 51004 Tartu

Tartu - European Capital of Culture 2024
UNESCO City of Literature
Reputational events

Tartu - European Capital of Culture 2024

European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) is one of the most recognised and treasured EU projects that started already in 1985.
By 2020 60 European cities will have held the title.

It brings together all ideas, people and stakeholders in the city or region. Through culture and art, Tartu as an European Capital of Culture improves the quality of life and strengthens its sense of community. Among the rest.

Tartu and the local governments of Southern Estonia worked closely together to ensure that Tartu became the European Capital of Culture in 2024.
In 2024 Tartu and the Southern Estonian region is the centre of the whole Europe.

Arts of Survival

"ARTS OF SURVIVAL" ...is the leading theme of our Tartu 2024 bid books and our artistic concept. 

"Arts of Survival" is meant to express the power of the arts in affecting Europe’s future in three larger areas of life: environmentally friendly culture with a focus on real human communication, strong communities and essential skills for living and, indeed, survival in the coming years.

With messages and actions that value the individual and with the help of our Southern Estonian partners, even a city the size of Tartu can stand out in 21st century Europe.

The three main themes where the Arts of Survival come to life are as follows: "Tartu with Earth: Ecology Before Economy", "Tartu with Humanity; Forward to the Roots", "Tartu with Europe: Greater Smaller Cities". Each of these programme lines consists a number of transversal, transnational and transgenerational projects which open up the "Arts of Survival" values.


See more


Last changed 07.12.2020

UNESCO City of Literature

Since 2015, Tartu has been part of the UNESCO City of Literature network. Other such cities include Baghdad, Barcelona, Dublin, Dunedin, Edinburgh, Granada, Heidelberg, Iowa City, Krakow, Ljubljana, Lviv, Melbourne, Montevideo, Norwich, Nottingham, Obidos, Prague, Reykjavík and Ulyanovsk. The activities of the City of Literature are coordinated by the Estonian Literary Society, which also works with the Department of Culture of the City of Tartu.


Since receiving the title, Tartu has placed greater emphasis on increasing the literary interests of children and young people, which was one of the city’s principal objectives in its nomination to gain the title of UNESCO City of Literature. Every year, the city hands out an award for children’s literature, supports the organisation of literary events in schools and organises regular training events for kindergarten teachers regarding good children’s literature and up-to-date reading methods. In 2017, the Estonian Literary Society will organise the first Children's Literature Festival in Tartu, the purpose of which is to bring children of various ages closer to literature and the art of the written word through engaging endeavours.


Tartu has made investments to renovate the representative centre of the City of Literature (Tartu Literature House), has appointed a City Writer, is training guides for the City of Literature and has made an effort to encourage international cooperation.


One of the guides to different locations in literary Tartu is a map (in Estonian and English) that features, among other things, a reading recommendation on the topic of Tartu.


As of 2017, the City of Tartu also awards a year-long City Writer scholarship. The first City Writer for Tartu was Kristiina Ehin. The second City Writer was Mika  Keränen, the third was Vahur Afanasjev. The current City Writer is Carolina Pihelgas.



View the map of the City of Literature

Website of the City of Literature

Photo by Heikki Leis
Photo by Heikki Leis

Last changed 07.12.2020

Reputational events

Tartu is a university city with a vivid and colourful cultural life that is renowned for its youthful atmosphere. In addition, Tartu also hosts a range of high-ranking events that are international in scope. For example, the skiing event Tartu Maraton is one of the oldest ski marathons in the world, with 55 years of history. The marathon is also hard to outdo in terms of the number of participants it attracts and its level of organisation. Tartu Hanseatic Days and the Hansa Fair have been entertaining residents of Tartu in early July for more than 20 years. In August, Town Hall Square transforms into an outdoor cinema for the week-long Tartu Love Film Festival tARTuFF. At the start of September, Tartu hosts the theatre festival Draama, bringing together the very best of Estonian theatre. Tartu is also known around the world for its street art, which is celebrated with the annual street art festival Stencibility.

There are plenty of other exciting high-profile events that regularly take place in Tartu. Read the “What takes place in Tartu?” booklet on reputational events to learn more about what is going on in Tartu.

Photo by Sander Hiire
Photo by Sander Hiire

Suursündmused 2022

Sündmus Kuupäev
Maamess 21.-23.04.
Tartu Tudengipäevad: Kevad 22.-30.04.
Supilinna päevad 22.-24.04
Veteranipäev 23.04.
Tartu Maastikumaraton 08.05.
Prima Vista 09.-14.05.
Kevadlaat 14.05.
Karlova päevad 19.-21.05.
Muuseumiöö 21.05.
Tour of Estonia 26.-28.05.
Ilu & Motoexotica mess 27.-29.05.
Kuldne Karikas finaal 27.-29.05.
Tartu Rattaralli 29.05.
Tartumaa tantsupidu "Päev Emajõel" 05.06.
Tartu võimlemispidu 07.06.
Estonian Fashion Festival 09.-12.06.
Loodusfestival 10.-15.06.
Annelinna päevad 11.06.
Kastani tänava festival 11.-12.06
Eesti lennupäevad 11.-12.06
Jazz Pesulad Cup rannavolles 17.-19.06
Tartu linna päev 29.06.
Muusikasuvi Antoniuse õues 30.06.-25.08
Emajõe Festival 02.07.
Festival Klaaspärlimäng 07.-12.07.
Hansalaat 09-10.07.
Rally Estonia 14.-17.07
Emajõe suvekontserdid 20.07.-17.08.
Vanemuise sümfooniaorkestri suvekontsert 31.07.
Festival tARTuFF 01.-06.08
Rahvusvahelised Väntorelite Suvepäevad 05.-07.08.
Toidu-ja Veinifestival 05.-07.08.
Puhkpilli festival Mürtsub Pill 10.-14.08.
Ihaste päev 13.08.
Trad.Attack! - Make Your Move kontsert 19.08.
Festival Tartu Interdistsiplinaar 22.-28.08.
Startup Day 24.-26.08.
Aparaaditehase festival 26.-27.08.
Vanemuise hooaja avafestival 27.08.
Draama festival 05.-11.09.
Motoshow 09.-11.09.
Tähtvere Õunaõuepäev 10.-11.09
Maarjalaat 10.09.
Tammelinna päevad 13.-17.09.
Tartu Rattamaraton 18.09.
Friday Night Run 30.09.
Tartu Linnamaraton 01.10.
TAVA Väike Valgus 05.-08.10
Ehitus ja sisustus mess 14.-16.10.
Nüüdismuusika festival AFEKT 25.-30.10
Festival IDeeJazz 03.-05.11.
Tartu PÖFF 11.-27.11.
Jõululinn Tartu 27.11.-…
Jõululaat 10.12.


Booklet on reputational events

The events calendar “What  takes place in Tartu? 2021” provides an overview of the most important events being held in the city. The booklet has been published  in English,  RussianFinnish,  Latvian, German in addition to Estonian.

What takes place in Tartu? 2021

What Takes Place in Tartu? 2021

Last changed 29.03.2022

Honorary Cultural Titles of the Year

The honorary title of Kultuurikandja is a way for the City of Tartu to recognise people and collectives in Tartu for their remarkable cultural achievements in the preceding 12 months, or people and collectives whose work and activities have contributed significantly to the creation of cultural values in the city.

Everyone is welcome to nominate candidates for honorary titles. The winners are chosen by a broad-ranging committee established under the order of the Department of Culture of Tartu City Government which is made up of pre-eminent experts in different fields of culture.

The winners of the honorary titles awarded for creative achievements in the previous year are announced during a ceremony taking place at the beginning of the new year. Honorary titles are awarded in 8 categories in an effort to recognise and support the diversity of culture.

Honorary Titles 2020

  • Cultural Event of the Year:  Car-Free Avenue 
  • Cultural Organisation of the Year: Estonian National Museum
  • Creator of the Year: composer Mihkel Zilmer 
  • Kultuurikandja of Folk Culture of the Year: artistic director of the Folk Dance Ensemble of Tartu University Aveli Asber
  • Young Kultuurikandja of the Year:  composer and oboist Gregor Kulla
  • Culture Manager of the Year:  Krisztina Tóth
  • Newcomer of the Year: tARTu shop
  • Culture Reflector of the Year:  drama critic Karin Allik

Kultuurikandja 2021

Photos: Gabriela Urm

Last changed 03.03.2022

Grants for cultural projects and activities

Recreational activities

Grant for recreational activities organised by cultural associations

Non-profit associations, foundations and societies without legal entity status organising recreational folk culture activities in hobby groups can apply for the grant.

Recreational folk culture activities are artistic hobby activities based on traditional culture and national traditions in the fields of choir singing, folk dancing, brass-band music, traditional folk music, amateur theatre, national handicrafts and folklore.

The grant issued to a cultural society consists of a capitation fee and/or achievement grant. The society receives a capitation fee tax for every practitioner whose age is either 7-26 or over 60 who lives in Tartu according to the Estonian population register and who has (or whose legal representative has) noted the corresponding hobby group as their preferred activity in the field of folk culture.

The application deadline is 1 September.

You can submit an application in the online environment www.tartu.ee/kotoetused. The site is in Estonian.

Photo by Heikki Leis
Photo by Heikki Leis

Support Measures for Culture

  • Support for Cultural Projects

Support for a juridical person organizing an event or a series of events, that is either in Tartu or which is in another way connected with Tartu, and takes place at a specified time.

This measure has two sub-categories: support for projects from €5001 up to €50 000 (application deadline once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee) and support for projects up to €5000 (application deadline three times a year and the application is evaluated by the Department of Culture).

  • Support for Cultural Programmes

Support for non-profit and non-government organisations and foundations that provide a year-round (at least 10 months a year) cultural programme, that is either in Tartu or which is in another way connected with Tartu, and is aimed at the public.  Support for residency programmes is also available under this measure.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee.

  • Three-year-long Support for Cultural Activities

Support for non-profit and non-government organisations and foundations that provide a year-round (at least 10 months a year) cultural programme, that is either in Tartu or which is in another way connected with Tartu, and is aimed at the public. 

Conditions for applying: must have at least 10% self-earned income per calendar year; the applicant must provide a development plan; applicants must have been supported through Tartu City support measures for culture for at least the three years prior to applying.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee. Support is given for three years.

  • Cultural Mobility Scheme

Support for non-profit and non-government organisations’ and foundations’ employees or members, cultural collectives to either represent Tartu at foreign festivals and competitions or take part in international network meetings or meetings for international co-operation.

Support per person is calculated by the zone of destination country:
Zone A: Destination is Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden or Pskov/Leningrad oblast in Russia
Zone B: Destination is other European countries not named before and the rest of Russia
Zone C: Destination is countries outside of Europe and Russia

Applying is possible throughout the year and the application is evaluated by the Department of Culture.

  • Investment Support

Support for small investments: building and reconstruction of facilities, acquiring and installation of equipment needed for cultural production or for the providing of cultural goods and services.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee. Support size is between €5000 and €10 000.

  • Development Support for Cultural Organisations

Support for actions that significantly increase the operational capability of cultural organisations.

Applying is possible once a year and the application is evaluated by a committee. Support size is between €5000 and €10 000.


You can submit an application in the online environment www.tartu.ee/kotoetused. The site is in Estonian.

Photo by Meelis Lokk
Photo by Meelis Lokk

Last changed 16.12.2021