Theme years

The Ministry of Culture has organised theme years since 2000. The theme years in the sphere of culture have been approved until the year 2024.

The content of the coming theme years will follow in the due course and related organisations in the corresponding areas will be responsible for the arrangements.

Additional information may be requested from the Communication Department of the Ministry of Culture.

Upcoming theme years


The Year of Libraries brings libraries into the public focus with their worries and joys, as well as allows to contemplate about their role on the level of society and communities. The thematic Year of Libraries is being prepared and will be realised by the National Library of Estonia.


The aim of the year is to create greater interest in physical activities and healthier lifestyles in people. The year dedicated to mobility draws attention to the fact that despite improved statistical data, we are still some tens of percentage points behind the Nordic countries, where nearly three quarters of the population engages regularly in physical activities.


The year 2024 introduces the diverse culture and traditions of the different people living in Estonia, as well as Estonia’s own unique cultural spaces and communities.

Previous theme years

It is important for succeeding generations to have access to our living culture and cultural legacy, and for digital solutions to support this. During the year, the activities and events were carried out by the National Library of Estonia, the National Heritage Board, Estonian Public Broadcasting and the Estonian Film Foundation.

In 2019, 150 years passed since the first song festival, and the 85-year-old dance festival took place for the 20th time. Therefore, 2019 was declared the theme year of the Song and Dance Festival movement, which was led by the Estonian Song and Dance Festival Foundation.

In 2018, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia was celebrated. The events of the theme year were also related to the jubilee year of the country. In addition, 2018 was declared a European Year of Cultural Heritage by a joint decision of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.

2017 was the Year of Children's and Youth Culture, which celebrated our future generations as creators and members of the public, linked culture to various areas of activity and gathered together many different undertakings, both small and large. The motto for the Year of Children's and Youth Culture was “Me too!”. The activities of theme year were coordinated by the Estonian Children's Literature Centre.

2016 was named the Maritime Culture Year and given the motto “Facing the sea”.
The aim of the theme year was to show that the sea has strong links to our history, work, food, culture, education, traditions, etc.

2015 was declared the Year of Music in Estonia. Various concerts, festivals, competitions, conferences, school concerts, lectures, exhibitions and other music-related events took place in the framework of the Year of Music. Composer Arvo Pärt celebrated his 80th birthday in 2015 and composer Veljo Tormis turned 85; October 1 marked the traditional celebration of International Music Day all over Estonia.

2014 was the Year of Sports in Estonia. The aim of the Year of Sports was to increase the number of people who engage in physical activities on a regular basis. The most important goal was to raise awareness about the fact that everyone can get moving, virtually everywhere and at any time, and to point out that regular exercising should be an integral part of our daily lives.
Throughout the year, various way of staying physically active were introduced, be it folk dancing or recreational sport, and people were encouraged to enjoy all the benefits that exercising has to offer. The Year of Sports 2014 was organised and carried out by the Estonian Olympic Committee.

The Year of Cultural Heritage was organised to convey the following message: all that we create today will be our mark in the future. The motto of the Year of Heritage was “There is no heritage without an heir”. Various events took place all over Estonia in the spirit of the Year of Cultural Heritage, some of them were also tied to the celebrations of the 95th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.

Film Year was organised to celebrate the 100th jubilee of Estonian cinematography – 1912 marked the screening of the first cinematographic treat by Johannes Pääsuke, a short film depicting test pilot Sergei Utotškin’s aerobatics above Tartu. In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Estonian films, a programme was launched titled “Estonian Film 100/Year of Estonian Film”; the focal points of the programme were restoring and recovering the film heritage, creating opportunities for studying and disclosing film history, and wide-spread introduction and appreciation of Estonian films both at home and abroad.

Tallinn shared the title of the  European Capital of Culture with the Finnish city Turku.

The aim of the Year of Reading was to focus on reading and combat low reading numbers.

The aim of the Museum Year was to direct attention to the cultural heritage that surrounds us through the viewpoint of museums. This involved introducing the activities of nearly 250 museums and their work with preserving and introducing cultural heritage, bringing the spotlight on people whose daily tasks were carried out in museum and cherishing the work that has been done in more than 200 years.

The Architecture Year was organised to celebrate the passing of 90 years from the start of professional architecture education in Estonia. Other aims of the Architecture Year involved directing attention to architecture as an environment and culture, to architecture as a connector of people and space, and to architecture as the art of construction.

The Design Year was organised to celebrate the passing of 40 years from the start of design education in Estonia, to bring more value to design in the eyes of entrepreneurs and to introduce this field to general public. The Design Year took place 14.09.2006 – 6.11.2007.

The Year of Estonian Theatre marked the passing of 100 years from the birth of professional theatre in Estonia. In 1906, a new Art Nouveau-style theatre house was opened and named Vanemuine. In September of the same year, the Estonia Theatre was also declared professional at the initiative of Paul Pinna and Theodor Altermann.

The aim of the Art Year was to draw the attention of the entire society to the opportunities and role of art in Estonia. During the year, many art projects were organised that involved young people, increased interest in art and awareness of it.

The Estonian Book Year was celebrated from April 2000 to April 2001, focusing on the value of Estonian books and facilitating book culture in our society.

Last updated: 03.11.2021