HIIUMAA, VORMSI AND KIHNU ISLANDS
The second largest island in Estonia, Hiiumaa, creates a landscape of swampy thickets and juniper shrubbery, coastal meadows and dunes, peat moors and bogs. On arrival on the island, visitors are greeted by the sculpture of a woman standing in the sea, locally known as Ranna-Ella (Beach-Ella). On Kassari peninsula a statue of the island’s ancient hero Leiger extends his own welcome. Legend has it that the long and narrow piece of land jutting out at the tip of the island was formed when Leiger began building a road across the water to Saaremaa. It is customary for every visitor to leave a stone at the tip of the peninsula to finish the task. Hiiumaa is the island of lighthouses. On the north coast of Hiiumaa is the Tahkuna peninsula lighthouse. At 43 metres it is the tallest cast-iron tower in Estonia. The 36-metre high Kõpu lighthouse is the third oldest operating lighthouse in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531. Visitors may climb up the stairs for spectacular views. 9 kilometres west of Kõpu is a third lighthouse at Ristna, built in 1874 on a peninsula that is considered to have the best waves in Estonia, attracting surfers, sailboats and windsurfers. The way through the island’s capital Kärdla passes right by Ristimägi. The story of this dense thicket of crosses is attributed to a number of legends. Supposedly two wedding processions collided here, resulting in the death of the bride in one party and the bridegroom in the other. The survivors married and the first cross was erected to remember the other “couple”.
The island of Vormsi, Estonia’s fourth largest, has been inhabited since the 13th century and is one of a number of places settled by Swedish immigrants, hence the use of Estonian and Swedish for place names. St. Olaf’s Church in Hullo, the central settlement, is the primary historical and cultural monument on the island. The Vormsi cemetery is one of the most unusual in Estonia due to its circular solar crosses. A tour of the island’s villages can be combined with a swim, especially in the warm water of the bay of Hullo and Saxby beach.
Due to its relative isolation, the island of Kihnu in is a place where local culture and centuries old traditions are practised to this day. Local people still dress in folk costume every day and the unique handicrafts of the oldest generation are still practiced. Local women express these traditions most vividly; they still wear skirts with striped folk patterns – even when riding motorcycles. The islanders’ way of life is so unique and traditional that the Kihnu culture today has UNESCO World Heritage status.
Source: Estonia Tourist Board – Visit Estonia
Here’s a sampling of major yearly recurring events in the islands:
Hiiumaa Folk Music Festival
The Valga Military History Festival has a unique programme: from introducing the authorities, military marches and re-enactments of famous battles to special exhibitions, antiquities fair and a range of concerts.
For more info visit the official website www.hiiufolk.ee
Kihnu Sea Party
The Kihnu Sea Party is a festival dedicated to the fishermen’s day and the culture of Kihnu and it has a diverse programme. There are concerts, workshops, the traditional Kihnu run, fair ground waiting for sellers and buyers and the museum welcomes everyone.
For more info visit the official website www.kihnu.ee