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On 21 August, Iceland Day Will Spread Icelandic Culture Throughout Tallinn


On Sunday, 21 August, the Icelandic cultural festival ICELAND DAY will take place throughout Tallinn. The day will be kicked off at midnight by Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson during the major event “Song of Freedom” at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.

The Estonian state is using Iceland Day to thank the Republic of Iceland for its bravery in being the first to recognise Estonia’s restored independence in 1991. During the day dedicated to Iceland, over ten musical acts from the island nation will appear in Tallinn’s courtyards, venues, and on Iceland Square, Iceland-themed exhibits will be unveiled, and a Nordic-inspired food market will take place. Many of the scheduled events are free of charge.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of Estonia’s independence, the Foreign Ministry and the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute have organised a conference on 20 August entitled “20.08.1991 – Twenty Years On”, which will see the participation of the current and former foreign ministers and other political figures from our neighbouring countries. At the conference the former and current government leaders and foreign ministers of the Nordic countries, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia will focus on the experiences gained over the last 20 years as well as new challenges. Participating in the conference will be former Finnish prime minister Esko Aho, former Polish deputy prime minister Leszek Balcerowicz, former Latvian prime minister Ivars Godmanis, former Icelandic foreign minister Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, former Russian deputy prime minister Fjodor Shelov-Kovedyaev, Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, Latvian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Iceland Day and the foreign policy conference will take place to thank Iceland and to celebrate the special relationship between Estonia and Iceland. “For Estonia, Iceland’s decision to be the first country to recognise the restoration of Estonia’s independence less than a full day after independence was declared is and will remain a historical turning point,” said Paet. “Iceland’s bold step made the decision easier for a lot of other countries, who then followed its example,” he added.

“The fact that Estonia has decided to dedicate the 20th anniversary of the restoration of its independence to another country, calling it Iceland Day, is a great honour for our country. Our appreciation of this decision is reflected by the fact that at midnight on 20 August Iceland Day will be kicked off at the Song Festival Grounds by the Icelandic president. I am certain that this day full of music, design, literature and photography will strengthen the cultural ties between our countries even more,” commented Icelandic Ambassador Elín Flygenring.

On 21 August Iceland Day will start off with a Jazzkaar brunch at 12.00 in the Rooftop Cinema, where the highly regarded new-generation Icelandic composer and pianist Olafur Arnalds will perform together with a string quartet. Iceland Day will continue late at night at the Rooftop Cinema with the popular Icelandic group Sigur Rós’ documentary film “Heima”. At 13:00 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland Össur Skarphéðinsson will open the poster exhibition “Fabulous Iceland – Portraits of Icelandic Contemporary Authors” at the Rahva Raamat book store in Viru Centre, where authors Andri Snær Magnason and Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson, familiar to Estonian readers thanks to translations of their works, will also be in attendance.

The heart of the day’s events will be the “Inspired by Iceland” food market at Iceland Square. Icelandic cuisine will be introduced by well-known Icelandic chefs Ragnar Omarsson and Bjorgvin Myrdal, and many Estonian restaurants will be offering Nordic- and Iceland-inspired menus. The food market at Iceland Square will be opened by the Estonian and Icelandic foreign ministers. The stage at Iceland Square will feature the Karlakor Men’s Choir and one of the coolest party bands of Iceland’s younger generation, Retro Stefson.

One of the day’s most important events is surely the opening of the Icelandic Contemporary Design exhibition by the president of Iceland at the Museum of Applied Art and Design, which will be followed by a concert in the museum courtyard by the Icelandic post-rock foursome For a Minor Reflection, who are frequently compared to their compatriots Sigur Rós.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland Össur Skarphéðinsson will open Pall Stefansson’s exhibition of nature photos “Light Years” in the restaurant SFÄÄR and then the day will continue in the courtyard of the Muusikamaja, where guests can meet with well-known Icelandic authors Adalsteinn Absberg Sigurdsson and Andri Snaer Magnason. In the Estonian History Museum’s Great Guild Hall courtyard an Icelandic take on the Americana sound will be heard from singer-composer Lay Low, the Mosfells Choir will share its songs at Towers Square, the works of neo-folk singer-songwriter Snorri Helgason can be enjoyed in the Masters’ Courtyard, and the courtyard of the Gustav Adolf Grammar School will be filled with the positive baroque-pop sounds of the mini-orchestra Hjaltalin.

At the Rootsi-Mihkli Church there will be a chance to hear the compositions of the top names of three generations of Icelandic composers – Atli Heimir Sveinsson, Atli Ingólfsson, and Páll Ragnar Pálsson – presented by the Konveier Ensemble.

Iceland Day will be wrapped up with a huge Iceland Day party that will take over the Von Krahl Theatre building from 21:00-03:00. The six exciting and diverse ensembles that performed throughout the Old Town during the day will give performances in Von Krahl’s club space, theatre and terrace, being joined the energetic Reykjavik electro trio Sykur. Bringing home the end of the party will be a DJ set by a founding member of the electronic soul trailblazer band GusGus, the multi-talented President Bongo.

“Iceland Day is a unique and extraordinary event – one small country coming to visit another small county, bringing along a significant piece of its cultural scene. The possibility to see and hear so much world-class Icelandic art and music over the course of a single day here in Tallinn is truly a great gift to us from both the Estonian and Icelandic states,” noted the organiser of Iceland Day, Helen Sildna.

Iceland Day was made a reality by the Foreign Ministry and the state of Iceland; events were organised by Musiccase and project partners were Iceland Music Export, Iceland Film Centre, Iceland Design Centre, Literature Fund (Bókmenntasjóður), Sagenhaftes Island / Fabulous Iceland, Tallinn Music Week, Jazzkaar, Konveier, Black Nights Film Festival, Rooftop Cinema, Estonian Association of Designers, Design Night, EMTD, and the Carma Group.

Additional information:

Helen Sildna
Project manager

Kristiina Herodes
Foreign Ministry press spokesperson’s office
Tel: 6377613, mob: 51 11528


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