Shadows of Tartu in Light – A summary of the first architectural lighting design and light art festival in Tartu

The light of Tartu has faded but will light up the city again in autumn 2018

The university hub has fallen into it’s normal state of late-autumn darkness but the first shadows of Tartu in Light festival are here to stay. The organizers are collecting feedback and making summaries to start preparing next festival that will be held in October 2018. Tartu in Light 2016 festival that started and ended with indoor exhibitions programme “Promised Light” has received positive and encouraging feedback from participants, visitors and partners. The festival has its own face and structure that differs from other similar events held worldwide, mainly because of its concept, site-specific nature and lighting design education. More than 30 events took place across main and side programmes. Lighting design workshops, city-space installations, politically motivated indoor exhibitions “Promised Light”, conference and lightfair offered new experiences, thoughts and initiatives. The programmes of Tartu City Museum, University of Tartu Museum and Tartu New Theatre offered a broader discussions about light while tying it with their fields of activity. The budget was nearly hundred thousand euros. Approximately third of it was covered by Tartu City Government. It took over a year to organize this event.

toomikiriku varemed

TAVA16 main programme culminated in October 21.-23 when Mick Pedajas haunting music ja VJ Alyona Movko’s atmospheric visuals opened the very first Light-axis of Tartu that lit up the (non)places starting from Tartu Cathedral over Dome Hill to Town Square and Tartu City Museum. The light-axis was made of three illuminated facades that were designed and built in workshops curated by Sabine De Schutter and by 5 site-specific installations of local and international artist, curated by Karin Bachmann and Elo Kiivet. All this required over 3 kilometers of cable and 247 luminaires. The visitors of the Light-axis were like on a pilgrimage that brought together thousands of them. Also, approximately 500 people took part of the guided tours which together showed us how important is light in public city space, especially in late spring where the need for light and new emotions is very high.

suudlevad tudengid

Besides beautiful lightworks the aim of the festival is to provide modern lighting design and light art education. 6 educational workshops took place that had participant from Egypt, Iran, Russia and Estonia. Over 150 people visited international lighting design conference and lightfair held in Aparaaditehas. Light-products were presented by local companies: Baltmoon, Powermoon, Focuspoint, Saros, IntiLED, Silmas, E&T Valgus and Hektor Light.


Indoor group-exhibitions contributed to the festival in visual arts area. Jevgeni Zolotko’s apocalyptic installation “Base (I)” in Tartu Art College gallery Noorus was visited by more than 900 people. A political dimension was offered by group-exhibition “Promised Light” in Tartu Art House that was visited by more than 1000 people. We would like to thank the curator Tanel Rander, artist and visitors.

Tartu in Light will continue in collaboration with Tartu City Government in year 2018. We really hope that the situation with public lighting in Tartu has improved by then. Because of the festival there should be enough inspiration and good examples for that. From our webpage you can find beautiful photos by Annika Haas, a drone video of Tartu Catherdal in new light, short movie about the festival and many articles covered by press. Enjoy!

We thank all partners, sponsors and supporters: Tartu City Government, International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Hektor Design Hostels, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia, The Club of Different Rooms, Tartu New Theatre, ÅF Lighting, Tartu Artist Association, Tartu Art College, Tartu Art School, Zalong, Meeskond Security, Aparaaditehas, JAA Disain, Eventech, Teleprint, Tartu City Museum, Universtity of Tartu Museum, SA Tartmaa Tourism, The Estonian Association of Architects, MTÜ Elektriteater, Tartu Art College gallery Noorus, Tartu Art House, KUNST.EE,,, Müürileht, KesKus, Sirp, Tartu Postimees, Ylicool, Vapper Uba etc.