May is not just another month in Tartu – it is the time when a special atmosphere fills the streets of the city and the air is buzzing with words, thoughts and meanings. It’s the time when the international literary festival Prima Vista begins. Initiated in 2004 as a joint venture of literary organisations in Tartu, it has expanded yearly, presenting the leading authors from Estonia and abroad,and currently attracting the audience of about 10 000 people of all walks of life and age groups.
Prima Vista is the highlight of Tartu as UNESCO City of Literature; the festival has twice received the annual cultural prize of the City of Tartu as well as EFFE Label for 2015–2016 and 2019–2020. Taking place in numerous places around the city and being open to different ideas and ways of cooperation, the festival has built a strong and growing network around it, collaborating with a number of institutions, organisations, and venues from educational and cultural institutions, bookshops, museums, cultural factories and community societies to cafés and shopping centres.
The festival features many readings, presentations, lectures, workshops, and family events, aiming to bring together writers and readers and introduce various forms. For more than ten years we have been honoured to have well-known authors like Umberto Eco, Yevgeni Grishkovetz, Sofi Oksanen, Bruce Sterling, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, John Cooper
Clarke, Wolf Biermann, Klaus-Peter Wolf, Olga Tokarczuk, and many others performing at the festival. Above all Prima Vista is dedicated to literature, to the written as well as the spoken word, but the festival programme also includes concerts and film nights, exhibitions and other forms of art which have connections with literature. Prima Vista is constantly seeking for new ways to introduce literary works, inspire writers and attract new audiences.