The University of Tartu female and male choirs will conjure up the festival fire at Kassitoome Valley

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Starting at 9 p.m. on June 22nd, the Gaudeamus choirs will gather in Kassitoome Valley to light the festival fire and start the mystical torch-lit parade.

The lighting of the fire will be led by the Academic Female Choir and Academic Male Choir of the University of Tartu along with maestros Vaike Uibopuu and Alo Ritsing, who both witnessed the birth of the first Gaudeamus festival.

There will be a ‘time wheel’ of straw and chaff in the Kassitoome Valley, which will be lit to the accompaniment of spells and incantations sung by the choirs. The ’time wheel’ will become the festival fire, which will light thousands of smaller torches. The fire will burn throughout the festival in a lantern in the Tartu City Hall and be visible to the townspeople through the celebration.

On the evening of the June 24th, the lantern will be handed over to the Lithuanians, who will organise the next Gaudeamus festival in four years.

Spontaneous parade with 1,000 torches

Kulno Kungla, the project manager of the festival, says that the parade will be deliberately spontaneous: “There are very few staged elements in the parade. How it will turn out in the end depends on all the participants and will be a surprise. ‘Gaudeamus’ as well as other well-known songs will definitely be sung. There will also be brass bands, which will surely create a festive atmosphere.”

“The lighting of the fire and the parade are special events for the participants because it is the first time that the singers, dancers and musicians see how many of them there are. From the parade, we will move on to the opening event, which with its light, music and dance performances will create the mood for the rest of the festival,” Kungla says.

Photo: Archive of the Tartu Academic Male Choir