Cultural relations between Estonia and Sweden have always been close because of geographical proximity and well-integrated Estonian community in Sweden.
One of the prominent events for Estonian music in Sweden is the Baltic Sea festival, organized by Swedish Radio in Berwaldhallen in Stockholm – in 2015, the symphonies of Arvo Pärt were performed and conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste, this year Paavo Järvi will conduct the orchestra.
Since 2004, Paul Mägi has been artistic director and conductor of the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, he has helped to introduce Estonian music in Uppsala as well as organized the orchestra’s concerts in Estonia.
Estonian printing houses as well as writers traditionally participate in annual Gothenburg’s book fair, in 2016 writer Maarja Kangro participated.
In May 2016, first-time exhibition of Estonian designs “Size doesn’t matter” was opened in Stockholm Design Gallery. In 2017, an exhibition of fashion illustrators opened in Swedish Textile Museum in Borås, Estonia is represented by Marju Tammik, Anu Samarüütel, Britt Samson and Kätlin Kaljuvee.
Several Estonian films have been screened in Sweden during last couple of years, like “Clementines”, “1944”, “In the Crosswind” and “The Fencer”.
ESTONIANS IN SWEDEN
While pre-World War II only a few hundred Estonians lived in Sweden, Estonians fleeing the war in 1943-1944 increased the number to some 20 000 after the war. With the birth of new generations in the 1950s and 1960s this figure rose to 30 000. About 7 000 coastal Swedes, who lived on the Estonian islands and on the west coast, fled from Estonia to Sweden.
Presently, more than 10 000 Estonians live in Sweden, with the majority of them living in and around bigger towns.
1994 marked the 50th anniversary of the arrival the thousands of Estonian refugees to Sweden. As a highlight of the year a monument – named a Gate of Freedom – was erected to present gratitude towards the people of Sweden. The monument was blessed and inaugurated on 7 October 1994 and the opening ceremony was also attended by His Majesty, King Carl XVI Gustaf.
Due to a lack of descendants, graves being neglected and other similar reasons, an important topic during the past few years has been the reinterment of famous Estonians to Estonian soil.
So the remains of exiled politicians Jüri Uluots, August Warma amd August Rei and poets Marie Under and Artur Adson among other have been brought back to Estonia and reburied in local cemeteries.
From the post-war years onward, the Estonian community have successfully integrated into the Swedish community. The Estonian community also worked actively to preserve its national heritage and to raise awareness about Estonia through its many associations, societies and unions (the Estonian Committee, the Union of Estonians in Sweden, the Estonian Culture Society etc). During the peak period, some 400-500 Estonian organisations had been active in Sweden, todayapproximately 100 are still active . Also, many Estonian language periodicals are published – as the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht and the journal Rahvuslik Kontakt. In Stockholm, there’s an Estonian nursery school and an Estonian primary school (grades 1-9) with about 200 pupils.
Estonian Houses function as important centres for preserving and developing the Estonian heritage in Sweden.