Haapsalu’s biggest annual event, the White Lady Festival, coincides with the August full moon. The day begins with merriment – storytelling for the kids, theatre for the adults – and culminates with a ghastly apparition. During the full moon every August and February, moonlight at a precise angle creates a ghostly reflection upon a cathedral window.
According to legend, the shadow is cast by a young girl who, in the 14th century, was bricked up alive inside the walls. Back then the castle was an all-male enclave, and the archbishop got pretty worked up when he heard that a young woman, disguised in monastic vestments, sneaked in to be close to her lover-monk. In August excited young crowds stay out late to see a play recounting the story in the castle grounds, after which everyone gathers around the wall to await the shadow.