December is arguably the time that Tallinn’s Old Town puts on her best face. Blanketed in a healthy layer of snow, the narrow streets become mirrors for the amber light of shop window displays, while fiery ‘street candles’ mark the threshold of a tavern inviting weary travellers inside for a cup of hot, mulled wine. Sparkling Christmas lights become more numerous as one heads closer and closer to Town Hall Square, annual home to the town’s beloved Christmas tree and the venue for Tallinn’s traditional Christmas Market.
Rumour has it that in 1441 the world’s Christmas tree tradition also started at the very spot in Town Hall Square where the present tree stands. Originally though, it formed part of a right of passage for the town’s eligible bachelors who would dance around the tree with Tallinn’s fair maidens. Following a centuries-old tradition, the tree is lit ablaze at a special event which takes place after the end of Christmas season.
The market itself, which takes up most of the space on the square, is a collection of tiny wooden huts connected by strings of festive lights.This is the perfect place to find some authentic Estonian handicrafts and a myriad of other gifts and trinkets to take back home with you. You can also find many traditional Estonian Christmas foods such as roasted pork, blood sausage, farm goods, organic foods and let’s not forget the many varieties of warmth-giving ‘Hõõgvein’ (mulled wine). Bringing even more sparkle to the market are the carousels, onsite for your amusement.
No Estonian Christmas market would be complete without the Jõuluvana (Santa Claus), who will have his own house right next to the Christmas tree. Children of all ages are invited to visit Santa every day from 12:00 - 18:00. A culture program can be viewed on the stage on Fridays and Saturdays at 17:00 - 19:00, and on Sundays 12:00 - 14:00. There will be approx 1600 performers altogether in this year’s cultural programme.
Hot drinks will be served until 22:00, Fridays and Saturdays until 23:00.