Musically accompanied by live performances of Eurovision Song Contest songs, thousands of people kissed in the European Capital of Culture Tartu on Saturday evening. At the mass kissing event “Kissing Tartu”, countless people wanting to kiss pressed their lips together, hugged each other or kissed others on the cheeks at an open-air concert on the town hall square of Estonia’s second largest city. This was intended to set an example for openness, humanity and respect.

The highlight was a shared kiss to the sounds of the Estonian ESC winning song “Everybody” by Tanel Padar

In addition to Wurst, 19 other artists who once represented Estonia in the European singing competition performed in Tartu. They sang their own songs and some of them by other artists – including “Ein bisschen Frieden” by Nicole, with which the singer won for Germany in 1982.

“This year we are celebrating 20 years of Estonia being in the EU and also the fact that we have been participating in the Eurovision Song Contest for 30 years,” Mayor Urmas Klaas told the German press agency dpa in Tartu. “I still remember the first performances very well and how important that was for us back then. It was a kind of identification for Estonia – we were allowed to stand on the free stage of Europe again as a free state with our musicians.”

The stage in Tartu was set up in front of the historic town hall around the fountain with the bronze figures of two students hugging and kissing each other intimately under an umbrella. The sculpture with the name “Kissing Students” is considered a landmark of the university town, which has almost 100,000 inhabitants – and should be an invitation to imitate. In Estonia, Tartu is also called the “city of first love”.

“Kissing Tartu” was considered one of the highlights of the European Capital of Culture year in Tartu, which has the theme “Arts of survival”. In addition to the Estonian city, the Salzkammergut and Bodø in Norway will also hold the title of European Capital of Culture in 2024.