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ESTONIA

Location:
Tallinn

November 18 to January 7 2018
www.ChristmasMarket.ee

Really, there's no better time to be in Tallinn than during the holiday season. Estonia's medieval capital is inherently festive, particularly under the quilt of snow that the city's latitude dumps each December. And though temperatures do dip quite drastically this time of year, the city's celebratory atmosphere does well to dispel the cold. (At least until January that is, at which time - with Christmas in the rearview mirror - it's hard to be jolly about the three months of freeze still to go...)

Though Tallinn's Christmas market only became a yearly tradition in 2001, it has already established itself as amongst the most well-loved and happily-visited Christmas markets in Europe.

Certainly what it lacks in tradition it makes up for in atmosphere and ambiance, dispelling December's darkness with colourful lights, music and activity.

Surrounding an enormous Christmas tree hung with lights and decorations, artisans sell a variety of original products including felted wool hats and slippers, buckwheat pillows, wooden bowls, wickerwork, elaborate quilts, ceramic and glassware, little sea-grass animals (so Estonian), homemade candles, wreaths and other decorations.

Holiday shows are common on the cobbled square and traditional Estonian holiday food is also served: pork, sauerkraut and blood sausages, hot soups, stir-fries. Other traditional treats include gingerbread, marzipan, various local honeys, cookies, nuts and sweets. Hot mulled wine poured from large wooden barrels keeps the crowds warm (as well as the local drunks whose noses become so red this time of year they could lead Santa's team). As for the Big Guy himself, he makes his rounds, posing with children and chillin' in the designated Santa Claus Cabin, where incidentaly, you can mail postcards from Santa's own post office (The Reindeer Express! or do they make the elves do that?)

. For further information see
www.ChristmasMarket.ee
www.tourism.tallinn.ee
Timings
10.00 - 19.00
Hot beverages until 23.00

www.christmas.ee
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Tallinn- one of the advent markets - Toomas Volmer
Due to its Northern location you can usually bet on snow to give the real festive atmosphere

Local dishes: Smoked fish, especially trout (suitsukala) is an Estonian speciality and, when it comes to sausages, you could be excused for thinking that the country caters more to vampires than vegetarians. At Christmas time, sausages are prepared from fresh blood and wrapped in pig's intestine. Blood sausages (verevorst) and blood pancakes (vere pannkoogid) are served in most traditional Estonian restaurants. The syrupy Vana Tallinn liqueur is sickly sweet, very strong and an essential part of any Estonian table. It's best served in coffee, over ice with milk or with Champagne. Estonia's best beers are the light Saku beer and the heavier Saare beer from the island of Saaremaa, while some cafes and bars serve tasty, warming hoogvein (mulled wine).

Did you know

Tallinn, home of the first Christmas tree


The first recorded public display of a Christmas tree was in 1441 in the capital of German Livonia (now Estonia and Latvia) in the town square of Reval (now Tallinn). The custom was to dance around the tree at Christmas time, to celebrate the festive season and then burn it down.

The Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a guild for unmarried merchants, first erected the tree for the holiday period in their brotherhood house. One the last night of celebrations the tree was taken to the Town Hall square where the members of the brotherhood danced about it with local girls, before setting fire to it.

The medieval houses of Tallin's old town at Christmas
Christmas Village in the Estonian Open Air Museum
16 - 17 Dec 2017
Opening times 11:00 to 16:00

Traditional Estonian farmhouses shake off their winter sleep and come alive with stories about the times when our ancestors lived. Visitors find themselves in the middle of Christmas preparations of farm families. Christmas traditions from the end of 19th century to 1930s:
Christmas games, cooking and tasting festive dishes, decorating Christmas tree, Christmas songs and lessons at the old school, making straw-decorations, Christmas Post Office, Old time Santa Claus and much more. .
Exclusive goods from genuine village shop of the 1930s, Estonian handicraft at the museum shop.

Tel: +372 65 49 101
E-m: info @ evm.ee
Web: www.evm.ee
The oldest capital city in Northern Europe, Tallinns existence was first recorded in 1154, by the Arabian geographer and botanist Al-Idrisi. He described the town as a small but busy port, indicating that the town had played an important role in trade in the Northwest of Europe for centuries since the establishment by Finno-Ugric peoples. Its convenient location on the trade routes across the Gulf of Finland increased the towns importance in the 9th and 10th centuries, but there is no known written source to substantiate this

Tallinn has one of the best preserved medieval town centres today, because its 11th to 15th century structure has been left virtually undisturbed. The town is surrounded by very strong defensive systems, which has protected it from attack for centuries. The magnificent old town holds many buildings that have been preserved in their true medieval state, such as the Town Hall, the Town Wall, and St. Catherines Passage.

Tallinns Golden Age took place in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it had an important position of power on the Baltic Sea, and it controlled the trade routes across it. The towns membership of the Hanseatic League ensured its fame far beyond the city walls.

Tallinn Town Hall Square has been the focus of the town social life for centuries; in fact long before the actual Town Hall was built, the square was already being used for markets, local festivities and, on a more sinister note, executions!. The current Town Hall got its present looks between 1402 and 1404, when a former building (probably dating from the 13th century) was refurbished. The three-nave cellar hall is open to visitors.

The Tallinn City Museum, located inside a medieval merchant house in the heart of the Old Town gives a lovely overview of the development of the city, using exhibitions, videos, and slide shows.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral It was built in 1900, and incorporates various historical architectural styles. The Orthodox church was built by Mikhail Preobrazhenski, from St. Petersburg, during the time when Tallinn was ruled by the Russian Tsar. The bell tower holds 11 bells, the largest of which weighs 15 tonnes. The tower interior is richly decorated with intricate mosaics, and is worth a visit.

Overlooking the town, high on the cliffs, is Toompea Castle which was built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Tallinn used to have an earlier castle in suburban Iru, but this was abandoned in the 11th century for reasons unknown. The present location of the castle is a fine defensive position, 50 meters above sea level overlooking both the town and the sea. It has seen many conquerors over the centuries, and today the Estonian parliament sits here.

The Estonian Open Air museum presents an interesting and educational view on life in Estonia through the centuries. A huge selection of historical buildings gives an excellent overview of the various stages of Estonia development. Folk music and dancing takes place at regular intervals. The Museum is located on the outskirts of the city, making it an ideal opportunity for a great day out and a picnic.
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