Home of the Opinion Festival – a small town full of ideas

Within two days the Opinion Festival brings tens of thousands of people together in Paide. What’s special about Paide that the Opinion Festival has been taking place there already for ten years in a row and what else should the visitors of the Opinion Festival know about Paide?

The people of Paide. It hasn’t been easy with them. A long time ago, there was a plan to build a railway in Paide but the townspeople objected because the noise of the trains would bother the cows so they couldn’t produce anymore milk. In the 60s, they dug the bed of the Pärnu River around, so that the river would not flow through the town but around it. Today we would be so glad to have a river flowing through the town with its beautiful bridges and promenade. We could be like the Nordic St. Petersburg. What else is common between St. Petersburg and Paide is that both of them have been built on a swampy area at the foot of an Order Castle. Some years ago these two towns were even connected by a bus service. Paide has even been compared with Paris because of the artist that have lived and been active here. There are other kinds of comparisons – for example, there is a saying spreading around: “If Viljandi had no theater or university, it would be like Paide”. To be honest it doesn’t make us very joyous, even though we actually already have a theater. Allegedly we are the smallest European city with its own professional theater. We are extremely proud of it, even though at the moment we need to look in the mirror and admit that we haven’t been the best hosts for it, but we will find a solution for it. 

But we still got the railway and the bridges – for decades the train drove from Paide to Türi and Tamsalu. Allegedly Paide should be the only town in Estonia where you have to cross a bridge in order to enter the town. That fact is often asked in quizzes.

Although Paide’s name is supposedly derived from limestone, which you can also see at the festival area, there is also the word “idea” encoded in the name. There are a lot of ideas and ingenuity, creativity, playfulness and entrepreneurship in the people of Paide. If the idea of creating a theater has been one of the craziest, there are so many other things we are proud of. For example, our soccer team has reached the top of Estonia and the youth work of the club is impressive, the most innovative agricultural machines in Estonia are made on the Tööstuse Street and on the same street there is the largest bread factories in Estonia. Furthermore, the Kuma crosswords are made on the Pärnu Street, at the Music and Theater House the top culture is mediated and made, which is also a home to Paide Theater. A boy named Arvo lived in an old wooden house on Kitsas Street and a girl named Ita (a famous actress in Estonia) lived on the side of Vallimägi. Today, Arvo is a globally known composer and Ita a well-known actress in Estonia.

For the fifth year, the community is setting up a summer leisure site in the city’s main square, which we call the space experiment PaideWay – an English word game, which in one way means doing things in Paide’s way but in the other hand it means the phrase “by the way”. By the way, Paide’s partnership city Westminster, in America, has a street named Paide Way. The biggest challenge of the space experiment has been changing the mindset of people (car drivers) because Paide Central Square has been a roundabout for decades and people are used to driving cars there. However, historically the square was a marketplace and gathering spot. We feel that the space experiment has changed the people of Paide a lot – there is less and less resentment about the traffic change and more joy at spending time together. The space experiment is expected among many urbanites and, as young people say, it’s “the only place to chill in Paide”. PaideWay shows that Paide is not an extinct town, but there are people, events and lovely coffee scent in the air. We also recommend that visitors of the Opinion Festival should definitely come down from Vallimägi to the Central Square to spend time there.

The Opinion Festival. As with all new things, some of the people in Paide were quite suspicious about the festival and so to say kept their distance to observe everything that was happening – who knows what’s going on at Vallimägi. However, as soon as the locals realized that once a year the absolute best of different areas in Estonia meet at Vallimägi to discuss the past, present and future, to find solutions and unravel problems, they were proud of their town and year after year we see more and more locals visiting and volunteering at the festival. The Opinion Festival is Paide’s prized possession. The festival began with an idea, within ten year it has grown into a wonderful celebration of wisdom that looks into the future and offers great cultural experiences. The Opinion Festival is an expected event in Paide which produces necessary oxygen for the heart of Estonia, offers tonicity, great emotions and wise statements. Vallimägi has never experienced so much positivity and free spirit, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness at once. This year’s anniversary program is dignified and meaningful which is appropriate to the 10th festival and covers a number of current topics – from Ukraine and crises to memes, sports and to becoming a country with the most cyclists. The locals in Paide love cycling – on every Wednesday evening throughout the whole summer a bike trip takes place along the streets of the town, we promote going to work by bike and feel proud of our biking and walking road that goes around the town. So if you happen to come to the festival, take a bike with you so you could take the 9 km bike journey around Paide. By the way, the mayor of Paide, Eimar, also goes to work by bike. 

Paide is a wonderful town and its people are full of extraordinary ideas. The Opinion Festival provides a great opportunity to get to know us. 

Vabatahtlikuna festivalil

Elumuutev kogemus

“Nende inimestega koos tegin ma ükskord Arvamusfestivali!” on lause, mida sajad inimesed saavad Arvamusfestivali pildigaleriid vaadates rahulolu ning uhkusega öelda, sest Arvamusfestival saab teoks just tänu vabatahtlike tööle.


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