In 1869 Johann Voldemar Jannsen established the Estonian Song Festival while the nation was still a province of the Russian Empire. This festival was considered responsible for fostering an Estonian national awakening. After that, the new tradition was born and the Song Festivals are still held every five years.
The Tallinn Song Stage was built in 1959 for the Estonian Song Festival. The stage was meant to hold over 15,000 singers but it’s also possible to use it the other way – the performance will take place in front of the stage and audience is sitting on the stage.
In the northern side of the song stage there is the 42m high fire tower, which is used during the Estonian Song Festivals. It is also opened for the public all year long.
In 1988 Estonians gathered here – at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (in Estonian: Lauluväljak) – to sing patriotic hymns in what became known as the Singing Revolution that led to the overthrow of Soviet rule.
Today, Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds are also used for hosting international acts, such as Iron Maiden, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, 50 Cent, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and Madonna, and the contemporary dance music event, the Sundance Festival.
In August 2009, Madonna performed in front of a sold out crowd of 72,067. In June 2006, Metallica gave a concert for more than 78,000 fans. In August 1997, Michael Jackson performed in front of a 75,000 head crowd.
An optimal capacity for concerts is 75,000 fans. Though, in June 1988, during the Singing Revolution days, up to 300,000 people attended the Night Song Festival.
In 2003, Estonian song festivals were included in UNESCO World Heritage list.