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Let's Talk Tallinn: Lauluvaljäk! The Estonian Song Festival Grounds

July 9, 2012 at 3:04 PM | by | Comments (0)

Who goes to Estonia?! Well, our roaming correspondent John Walton does and, all this week, he'll be filling us in on what's up way up there in this world capital on the Baltic Sea.

Welcome—or Tere tulemast!—to Tallinn's Lauluvaljäk, the Song Festival Grounds where every five years over 100,000 people gather for one of the world's largest choral music festivals.

Yes, a hundred thousand people. In a country of just 1.3 million. Imagine a tenth of your country turning up and singing. Not only is that just plain awesome, but this is the scene of a key part of Estonia breaking away from the USSR in the late 1980s. For all the history, watch the fantastic documentary film "The Singing Revolution" by filmmakers Maureen and James Tusty.

When it's not being used for the Song Festival—or, you know, revolutions—it's one of northern Europe's largest concert venues, with acts like Lady Gaga headlining.

But on a gorgeous sunny summer's day, it's also one of the prettiest places in Tallinn. The fantastic 1950s architecture is a joy just to look at, and the gently sloping grounds reach a remarkable height over Tallinn.

While in the Grounds, don't miss two things: first, the incredible acoustics of the performance steps, which have an amazing echo-chamber effect, and second, the singing bench at the top of the viewing grounds (behind the statue of Gustav Ernesaks) which plays songs by the Estonian National Male Choir.

But true music fans should come back in 2014, which is the next run of the quinquennial (yeah, we love that word too) Laulupidu.

[Photos: John Walton/Jaunted]

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