Today we visited Tartu Hansapäevad (Tartu Hanseatic Days), a summer festival in central Tartu. Lovely. I associate festivals with loud music, crowds, crappy expensive food, and sellers of cheap tat. We didn’t sample any of the food, other than ice cream, but on all other fronts, this was the opposite in all ways.

The city centre was way more crowded than usual, of course, but not so bad that it would get annoying (and my threshold for crowd tolerance is low, believe me). The stalls were all spacious and spread out, which made the festival area easy to get around. It wasn’t even hard to get around with a buggy.

The music (where present) was provided mostly by wind orchestras and brass bands, since this year’s Hansapäevad coincided with a wind music festival.

Instead of cheap tat, there was a huge market for traditional Estonian handicrafts: wood working and wood carving, pottery, knitted wool, felted wool, embroidery and sewing, smithery, traditional food and so on. A lot of lovely stuff to look at! In some senses I may not be strongly Estonian any more, but I do feel a strong affinity to Estonian crafts. The feel of the Estonian woollen yarns (hand spun, slightly rough, unbleached), the smell of juniper wood, the look of the traditional striped fabrics – it all says “home” to me. I love Estonian traditional textiles in particular, and wish I could fit them into my wardrobe without clashing with everything else I wear.

They had even thought of families with children. Not just the usual bouncy castles (although there was an area with such junk as well) but also meet-a-policeman, pony rides, and a lot of craftsy activities for kids of all ages: stamp your own shopping bag, draw and paint, make a paper doll with real fabric clothes. Even better, the activities were not all in one corner of the festival area. We could alternate between window shopping (stall shopping?) for me and activities for Ingrid, so no one got bored.

Add ice cream, and a fountain to splash in, and great weather (below 30°C!) and it was a roaring success for us.