The Opinion Festival (Arvamusfestival in Estonian) takes place every August in Paide in Central Estonia. Founded in 2013, the Festival is taking place for the sixth consecutive year.
The Opinion Festival is a meeting place for all layers of society, giving a platform for different worldviews. Its mission is to improve debate culture and civic education. The Festival is free of charge and open to everyone in Estonia and beyond who would like to discuss and tackle issues that matter for all of us.
The Festival thrives on a decentralized structure: public discussions on a broad range of topics, from national security to health to social innovation, are suggested and run by people and organizations following a public call for ideas each spring. If an organization’s suggested topic is successful and accepted into the festival programme, it is that organization who is responsible for and sets up the discussion about that topic. The Festival team, made up of volunteers from across Estonia, manages the final programme and supports the organizations with the necessary know-how.
Each discussion follows the “Respectful Discussion Convention” which allows for a balanced and constructive exchange of ideas. In addition to panel discussion, the Festival encourages other inclusive formats, including various workshops, group discussions, debates, discussions, world cafés and other innovative ways to get the discussion going.
The discussions are accompanied by a diverse cultural programme and a buzzing atmosphere of concerts, street food and art.
The Opinion Festival is modelled on the sociopolitical Almedalsveckan festival in Sweden, which has been running for five decades, and other similar ventures in Finland, Norway and Denmark. The Estonian team continues the tradition of sharing its experience and best practice more widely, helping with the launch of Latvian conversation festival LAMPA and advising young people and civic society activists in Belarus, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.
The Opinion Festival is part of the newly established Democracy Festivals Association platform, together with 8 other discussion festivals.