UNESCO Creative City

Viljandi has been a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) since 2019. The network includes seven creative fields: literature, design, crafts and folk art, film, music, media arts, and gastronomy.


Two Estonian towns belong to the network: Tartu as a City of Literature, and Viljandi as a City of Crafts and Folk Art. 


Objectives and activities of Viljandi as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art


The values of the creative city are based on the principles of sustainability:  

sustainable cultural heritage 

sustainable community

sustainable environment


Several institutions that preserve, research, and develop cultural heritage with a nationwide influence are concentrated in Viljandi, and international events on heritage take place here. In 2019, Viljandi was granted the status of a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art. Being a Creative City allows us to show the public the values of our heritage and to demonstrate how they can contribute to enriching everyday life in cultural, social, and economic terms. The implementation of the activities of the Creative City takes place in cooperation with the local cultural organisations, educational institutions, and the city government. The leading role has been taken by the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy, which brings together representatives of all institutions and volunteers to the Creative City board. The board has formulated the main goals of Viljandi as a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art:


1) cultural heritage is a sustainable, accessible, well-known, and inspiring creative source for individuals and communities;

2) children, the young and socially vulnerable groups are considerably involved in creative activities integrated with cultural heritage;

3) Viljandi is a centre for professional creators, researchers, and entrepreneurs of folk culture;

4) Viljandi is an internationally recognised cooperation partner and a destination for heritage tourism.


Activities planned for 2021

  • The theme for the year 2021, chosen by the creative city board, is repairing. The broader aim of the year is to highlight survival strategies in cultural heritage, sustainable and sustainable lifestyles, the re-use of things, and the traditional skills that contribute to this. Repairing includes repairing broken things, improving skills, repenting, improving your language, improving the situation, and so on.  
  • Master Craftsman Contest. To fulfill the goals of the Creative City, a Master Craftsman scholarship will be implemented in cooperation with the Estonian Cultural Endowment. Through an open national competition, every year we intend to find a master dealing with folk art, crafts, or other related creative fields, who enlivens Viljandi's creative life and helps to shape the image of Viljandi as an internationally known UNESCO Creative City. It is a design contest, the winner of which proposes the activities of the Master Craftsman, which he is ready to carry out himself. If necessary, additional resources will be sought to carry out the activities. The purpose of the scholarship is to pay wider attention to the heritage and its creative modern application. The Master Craftsman is elected for one year, in 2021 the period is exceptionally from May to December. To find a Master Craftsman, a public contest is held in cooperation with the Estonian Folk Art and Craft Union following the statute. According to the statute, a commission is formed by the representatives of the Estonian Traditional Music Centre, the Estonian Folk Culture Centre, city agencies, and the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy.   
  • Repair Cafe series. Once a month: e.g. repair and maintenance of bicycles, repair of woollen items, renovation of old windows, etc.
  • Repair Shop mapping. Mapping of repair shops operating in Viljandi (e.g. shoe repair, watch repair, furniture upholstery, clothing repair) and creation of a corresponding map application to introduce and value the extension of the life of objects and masters who can do it.