Unless you have been to Estonia or have a connection with the country, few people would be aware of its hauntingly beautiful landscapes and the richness of its unique culture.

Here are some interesting facts about Estonia

Estonia has two Independence Days – Estonia first achieved independence from the Soviet Union on the 24th February 1918 and again on the 20th August 1991 after 51 years of occupation. The second date is known as the ‘Restoration of Independence Day’

The Estonian language belongs to the Finno-Ugric group and is most similar to Finnish

Estonia was the first country in the world to introduce online political voting

Former president Lennart Meri was a filmmaker before he took office and Tallinn Airport is named in his honour

Estonia is almost 50% forest

The population of Estonia is a mere 1.3 million with a further ½ million citizens residing throughout the world in countries such as Canada, Australia and the USA

In 1994 Estonia became the first country in the world to introduce a flat income tax

Estonia won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2001 with the song Everybody

There are over 1500 Islands, 1000 lakes and 7000 rivers in Estonia

Chess Grandmaster Paul Keres was born in Estonia. When he died in 1975 over 100,000 people attended his funeral, that’s around 10% of the entire population of Estonia!

Estonia is the world’s least religious country.  Only 14% of the population profess any religious beliefs

International model Carmen Kass is Estonian. She is the face of Christian Dior’s J’adore perfume

Skype was invented in Estonia

The national flag of Estonia is tricolour featuring three equal horizontal bands of blue, black and white. Blue represents the sky, black – soil and white – freedom.

Estonia produces quality vodka with Viru Valge and Saaremaa vodka being the most popular brands

How Brighton Launched Abba

Brighton has earned a place in the hearts of people around the UK for being a charming seaside resort and a great place to go on holiday. While its virtues are well known to those around the country, it’s pop music that has really helped put Brighton the map and into the consciousness of the world. Huge names in rock and roll and pop music – including Queen, The Who and ABBA – have made an indelible mark in this bustling city. Likewise, Brighton has made its own mark on each of them, and has earned a spot in the annals of pop music history by doing so.

ABBA’s Big Moment

Early in their career, ABBA was looking for what every pop group is looking for: that one magic moment that would give them the boost needed to catapult them to rock stardom. They found it at the Brighton Dome during the Eurovision Song Contest. As the final notes of their song “Waterloo” echoed through the packed auditorium, the Swedish group had officially arrived. They ultimately won the Eurovision Song Contest, achieving a stunning upset against favourite contender Olivia Newton-John. ABBA went on to become Sweden’s most successful pop rock group, and continues to charm music lovers to this day.

The Who And Brighton

Right around the same time that ABBA put their mark on Brighton, The Who was putting the town on the map with their opus Quadrophenia. The album largely revolved around the rivalry between Brighton’s Mods and Rockers which flared during the mid-1960s. With their large and passionate fan base, there is little doubt that The Who prompted an influx of visitors to Brighton. People who were eager to see the inspiration for The Who’s well-regarded album flocked to the city droves.

Queen Gives Brighton The Royal Treatment

The proverbial icing on the cake for Brighton’s pop music history occurred when the rock band Queen released the song “Brighton Rock.” While Graham Greene’s novel by the same name – along with the subsequent movie – certainly prompted a surge in Brighton’s popularity, Queen brought the seaside city into vogue for a whole new generation. Today, visitors can still come here, you can get a feel for why so many musicians have been inspired by this quirky, bustling city. There’s just something about Brighton, and it is here to stay.

Ideas For Organising a Eurovision Party

May is approaching fast and that can only mean one thing… It’s almost time for Eurovision! Though many people look down on the contest, calling it an embarrassment to Europe and its singer and songwriter community, it can be grounds for a really fun evening with friends if not taken too seriously. Over the years it’s become really popular to honour the annual event that used to be accompanied by Terry Wogan’s amusing commentary in the UK with a party. It’s become the subject of games and other activities. So why not go all out this year and host a night to remember? Here are a few ideas for how you could celebrate the occasion in as cheesy a way as possible.

Game Ideas

Fans of Eurovision have come up with games that you can play before and during the show. One option is to place bets on whoever you think is going to win the show. You don’t necessarily have to bet for money. Come up with more interesting prizes such as a Eurovision greatest hits CD or alike. Or let the winner set challenges to others, such as making them belt out a karaoke version of the winning song.

There are also drinking games you can play while watching the event. These revolve around the lyrics of the songs and require you to take a sip of your drink each time a certain word or topic is mentioned. Common favourites include “love”, “world peace” and “friendship” that seem to be subjects covered repetitively every single year. Make sure you’re not drinking anything too strong as otherwise things could get messy fast…

Costume Party

An obvious idea for a Eurovision night is to wear costumes representing the different nationalities taking part in the contest. If you’ve got an international group of friends, ask them to come in their national costumes. Alternatively, dress up to represent your favourite act of the year or the act you think is going to win.

Garden Party

In May the weather should be good enough for you to be able to host an outdoor party. You just might want to warn your neighbours though! They should be as prepared as you are for a night of loud, often dancy music with terrible lyrics.

If you can get your hands on a big projector and screen, this could be the best way of watching the show outdoors. In this case make sure you have electricity on hand to power the equipment. If your cables and extension leads don’t stretch far enough into the garden, consider power generator rental. With the screen up and running, make sure you and your guests have comfy seats, blankets to snuggle up in if it gets chilly and lots of food and drinks to keep you going until the end of the night.