RAD Review: Simple Session 2019

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By now almost 2 decades into their tenure as Europe’s only winter skate and BMX event, Tallinn, Estonia’s Simple Session have their organisation humming like a finely-tuned engine.

If you are unfamiliar with the Simple Session jamboree, it is a weekend based around a sports arena on the outskirts of Estonia’s snowbound capital. Having begun life as a classic local outdoor contest, the BMX side of the event, in particular, mushroomed in the last decade to become one of the biggest events in the world in that game.

‘BMXicans’ tend to be a lively bunch, and so this speaks directly to the nightlife surrounding the event which seems to form a large part of the attraction to repeat attendees.

Photo credit: digbmx.com 

Simple Session 2019

Year after year, the Kalmre brothers who organise this event, as well as a nascent summer version in the neighbouring Latvian capital of Riga, have worked tirelessly to develop their offering at a time when, let’s face it, a lot of their onetime peers in the action sports event management game have felt the cold economic winds end their runs. That is worthy of respect in and of itself.

Being when it is (historically in the January/ February overlap) and where it is, there is always an undercurrent of eclecticism about the contest and this year was no different. Skaters ranging from Tony Hawk to Greyson Fletcher wowed the family-friendly audience of people who no doubt stayed for both the skate and BMX contests.

From a BMX perspective, the genre is so advanced now that their contest is split between street and park events; because the wildness has headed off in 2 directions within BMX that it really becomes difficult to judge as a single discipline anymore. You will see the best in the world at both contests here. Justice is best done to their talents by watching the highlight clips online.

Exploring Tallinn

Beyond the contest itself, Tallinn although bitterly cold, is well worth exploring on foot.

It should go without saying that to miss out on a walk in appropriate footwear around the old town would be to do yourself a great disservice; and since this is where much of the nightlife lies anyway, you’d be a fool not to.

All the weekend’s afterparties were held at the plush Club Hollywood; for those of an age and inclination to stay up past their bedtimes. It is worth pointing out that Estonians are in the Latin persuasion of only going out at midnight. Lord knows how they function on so little sleep.

Earlier birds might consider the relatively new Philly Joe’s Jazz Club or for a hideaway The Dubliner; both on the edge of the old town and just around the corner from one another.

The flights out to Estonia in the dead of winter were surprisingly full, telling me that there is a market for winter city breaks that I never knew existed until recently. That being the case, should you consider being in the parish next winter, think about adding the Simple Session to your itinerary. There is a lot going on for a time of year when not much else is.

Simple Session 2020 dates are set for February 8-9. See you there!

Feature image credit: digbmx.com 

Accommodation near Tallinn, Estonia

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Niall Neeson

Niall has written for magazines all around the world for the last 15 years and runs a brand strategy consultancy involving youth culture and action sports.


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