The infamously long, dark, and cold winter is finally over in Finland. The whole country seems to come alive in the summer time, and what would be a better way to celebrate this than going to a festival! Finland hosts numerous festivals, ranging from quirky film festivals under the midnight sun to celebrations of thousands of hard core metal fans. Check out the best five festivals in Finland that you should experience at least once in your life!
5. Pori Jazz
8th-16th July 2017
Jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, blues, Afro-Cuban, pop
One of the biggest and oldest jazz festivals in Europe, Pori Jazz was found already in 1966. Although the festival started with a duration of just two days with only 1 500 visitors, the event has grown exponentially and has been extended to last for nine days and hosts 120 000 to 160 000 jazz lovers every year. The festival has become one of the most beloved ones, and no wonder: it has hosted international big names such as Betty Carter, Alicia Keys, Earth, Wind & Fire, Phil Collins, Chuck Berry, and The Roots. This year’s main artists include future funk act Jamiroquai, Grace Jones, and Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds.
7th-9th July 2017
rock, hip hop, pop, electronic music, alternative
The second oldest festival still running in Europe, Ruisrock was started in 1970 and has hosted many remarkable artists including Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Uriah Heep, and Bob Dylan. Even though Ruisrock’s roots are deep in the rock genre, the contemporary festival has expanded its offerings. This year’s line-up features the Norwegian DJ producer Kygo, rapper Travis Scott , singer-songwriter Charli XCX, as well as many popular and rising Finnish artists!
TOP TIP: Take your grandma and grandpa with you! All 70+ year olds have free admission for one day, and ride the waterbus from Turku city centre to the festival site and back for free.
3. Tuska Open Air Metal Festival
30th June -2nd July 2017
hard rock, metal
The hard-core rock festival gathering metal heads from all corners of the world turns 20 years this summer! Having hosted legends like Alice Cooper, Lamb of God, Anthrax, and Megadeth, Tuska is among the most respected metal festivals in the world. Nicknamed “The promised land of metal”, Finland takes pride in . Many big names in the genre, such as Nightwish, Children of Bodom, and Apocalyptica are hailing from Finland. This year, one of the iconic Finnish bands, H.I.M., will climb up on the stage as one of the festival’s main performers along Sabaton and Mastodon.
TOP TIP: H.I.M. is disbanding and is on their final tour! It is now or never, take the chance and go see the magnificent band rocking the stage.
2. Midnight Sun Film Festival
14th-18th June 2017
Indie and Alternative
In the middle of Finnish Lapland, north of the arctic circle where the midnight sun burns as brightly in the night as it does during the day, lies the small village of Sodankylä. During the nightless nights the village comes vividly animated with people when everyone with love for cinema gathers together. The sense of time disappears when films are played through day and night, that merge into one under the never-setting sun.
During the festival that was found by the filmmaker Kaurismäki brothers in 1986, altogether over 100 films are played on 120 screens. The programme includes both Finnish and international films, classics and contemporary pieces. Some films to definitely look forward to are the American thriller The China Syndrome (1979), the exotic Finnish-Bulgarian document The Good Postman (2016), and the sensational Finland100 film Tom of Finland (2017).
TOP TIP: In some screenings, leading film critics will provide insight into the master pieces and help to understand the delicate undertones and symbolism used in the art of cinema.
11th-13th August 2017
urban, hip hop, alternative, pop, art
The contemporary festival combines music and arts, and the programme includes everything from gigs to film screenings and talks as well as food and drinks. Taking place at a defunct power plat and its industrial surroundings, Flow Festival showcases not only the most notable artists of the moment, but also lets the most promising emerging artists to take over the stage. Previous names include the revolutionary South-African zef-act Die Antwoord, US rapper Kanye West, the politically aware M.I.A., and the Icelandic sensation Björk. This August, the capital of Finland has the honour to welcome guests like the ever-so-iconic diva Lana del Rey, the ethereal US ensemble The XX, rock cult favourite Ryan Adams, and a broad representation of the new generation of US rappers including Frank Ocean, Young Thug, Princess Nokia, and Vince Staples . Remember to keep an eye open for the new and upcoming artists too; it would not be the first time when the conquest of the international music world has started from the stage of the Flow Festival.
Midsummer festival, Juhannus, is a celebration of light and summer. It’s one of the most expected holidays in Finland. After the long and dark winter, it is time to relax and get together with friends and family. Midsummer starts the holiday season in Finland and there is even a public holiday to allow everyone to have a long weekend.
Festivities takes place the weekend after the summer solstice, around the third weekend of June. People escape to their summer cottages, and cities are ghostly quiet. Yet, cottage districts and camping areas are completely the opposite. People enjoy the nightless night together and do not hesitate to express the joy loudly. Drinking beer, listening to Finnish hits, and cooking outdoors are common midsummer activities. Grill sausage is a must and you can find first-harvest potatoes and herring on your plate for sure.
Sweat it off!
Sauna is a crucial part of Finnish midsummer celebrations. Nearly every summer cottage has a sauna and while bathing, it’s common to clean your skin with vihta, a birch whisk. It will renew your skin and improve blood circulation. May sound weird, but it makes you feel refreshed, not to mention the lovely scent of birch leaves. Usually, summer cottages are located next to a lake and it is common to dip into the water in between of sauna baths.
Sauna prepares you for the midnight magic. The origin of midsummer spells goes back to the days when people were superstitious and believed in magic. Most of the rituals were for young unmarried women, so the spells concentrated on partner finding and love. Nowadays, the spells are a fun activity to do with friends and family.
Light it up!
Sauna and spells are not the only traditions during the midsummer celebrations. It is common to collect twigs and blocks of wood beforehand, and then light the fire on midsummer. A bonfire is usually set next to a lake or on a raft that is sent out to the water. It is a social event, and people around the neighborhood gather together to have a cheerful discussion over the activity. Originally the bonfire was set up to drive away bad spirits.
There is a countless number of other midsummer traditions depending on the region. In addition, the traditions varies between families and generations. In Finland, you can create a midsummer traditions that suits you the best!
In Finland, you can find so many edible, little things in the nature and they taste delicious. We have listed three natural recipes for you to read!
For instance, there are wonderful berries and mushrooms which you can pick from the bushes. We have, in Finland, this thing called “every man’s rights”. This basically means that anyone could just visit a forest or field and pick some berries or mushrooms.
My personal favorite are blueberries. Blueberries are sweet, but unlike candies, these berries are also healthy for you. You can combine blueberries with so many different food, e.g., ice cream and pies. It is fairly easy; you don’t have to be a master chef in order to create this delicious blueberry pie. Here’s a recipe.
Second favorite what most Finns pick up from the forest is chanterelle. Chanterelle is a mushroom, tasteful and maybe the most known one. There are some preparations you have to do with the chanterelles before cooking it, but it is certainly worth it. Here’s a nice chanterelle risotto recipe for you to make your friends and family happy.
The third recipe is made from nettles. I know picking nettles could be painful if you are not well covered when gathering them, but if you put proper clothes on and parboil them, you’ll be fine. Here’s one nice nettle soup recipe for you for the cold summer evenings.
There are many benefits from eating these natural foods from the forest. For example, it has been studied that blueberries could prevent cancer, they also increase your brain capacity and easy your metabolism system. Chanterelles also have its own benefits, e.g., full of vitamins and irons.
You can have a perfect three-course meal with these recipes listed above. Start with the soup, then have the chanterelle risotto, and finally the blueberry pie as dessert. Have fun preparing this Scandinavian course meal and remember to eat well!
Helsinki, Tampere, Turku are undoubtedly highlights, but visiting the small Finnish villages gives the traveler a more intimate, authentic, and relaxed view of Finland. Dotted around this land of lakes and forests are a number of truly stunning towns. Here are 7 of our favorites:
Porvoo has been loved by some of Finland’s greatest poets and artists. It is the second oldest city in Finland and evidence of its long history can still be seen and felt as you walk its charming streets. The historical old town boasts lots of pretty, colorful traditional wooden houses, which are an amazing sight to see. Porvoo is also famous for its countless interior design shops and always has been a source of inspiration for many local designers.
It may come as a surprise for some people, but Finland has beaches too. Hanko is a summer paradise for anyone who loves sun, sandy beaches and sea combined with the old town’s charming atmosphere, colorful events and enticing restaurants. Hanko is often spoken of as Finland’s Hampton or the Finnish riviera.
Mariehamn is the capital of Åland Island, an autonomous Swedish-speaking territory in Finland. Walking around the small center, you will see streets full of colorful wooden buildings and houses that really bring the town to life, either in summer or in winter. Mariehamn is the perfect antidote to a hectic, big city life style of the Baltic Sea capitals: Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and St. Petersburg. The town was also once the home for the world’s largest oceanic sailing ships and therefore, there is a large marina to explore and a museum ship anchored in the city’s western harbor.
There are a number of things to see in Raseborg, both man-made and natural. There are historic ironworks of Fiskars and Billnäs, Raseborg castle ruins, the Svartå Manor and Ekenäs with its quaint small wooden houses to cheer you up on a dark day. On the natural side, Raseborg is a good jumping-off point to explore the magnificent archipelago, which contains Ekenäs National Park.
One of the most important Finnish experience is, without any doubt, sauna. Salla is a great place to get an authentic sauna experience by enjoying the relentless sauna heat and afterwards, going swimming in the ice-cold, crystal clear lake. As Salla is in Lapland, there are tons of other great winter activities there, so make sure you stay for a few days to experience them all.
Naantali is the town of a thousand islands. The highlights of sunny Naantali are the idyllic old town and the nearby archipelago. There is a shimmering energy in the heart of the town with its lively cafes, restaurants, terraces and a world of colorful boutiques. The town’s well-known sights are Moominworld, Naantali Spa Hotel and Kultaranta – the summer residence of the President of Finland.
Ever dreamt of sleeping in an igloo? Ever dreamt of sleeping in an igloo with a glass roof, perfectly suited for Aurora Borealis-hunting? Then Saariselkä is your place to go. You can take a sled-dog safari to witness the beauty of what real winter looks like or come in June or July to find out the real meaning of White Nights.
Also, don’t forget to check our Finland’s Bucket List for the best experiences in this magic country.
If you’re planning to study in Finland in the future, then these quick facts about Finland might be interesting for you. Here are 5 quick facts about Finland!
1. National Animal
Many countries have an animal or bird as a national animal. So what is it for Finland?
The Finns have seven national nature symbols, which received their status through public polls in the 1980s and ‘90s. The reason that Finland has so many national natural symbols is because the nature is very dear to the Finns. The national nature symbols are interlinked with Finnish mythology, traditions and popular culture. Many have been featured on postage stamps, logos and on pre-euro Finnish banknotes and coins.
Brown bear is the national animal of Finland. They feature noticeably in Finnish mythology, including the national folklore epic Kalevala. The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian. The Kalevala played an instrumental role in the development of the Finnish national identity.
2. Finland has more saunas than cars
There are more saunas than cars in Finland; there are 2 million saunas in Finland for a population of only 5 million. The Finns consider their saunsa as a necessity, right up there with rye bread and vodka. There is this famous Finnish saying that goes “Build the sauna, then the house.” Even a Burger King located in Helsinki has the world’s first in-store sauna and spa, and you can order in food.
3. Official Languages
The two main official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is naturally the language of the majority, 91% of the population speaks Finnish as their first language, while 5.4% has Swedish as their first language.
However, you don’t need to speak Finnish or Swedish to enjoy your expat life in Finland, the only language you’ll need is English. Finland is placed among the top four countries in the world when it comes to the fluency of English, based on the EF English Proficiency Index.
4. Personal Space
Every country has its own cultural habits; certain things you do at one place and it is totally fine and understood. You do the same thing at another place and it might be totally misunderstood.
For instance, Finns respect the personal space of each other a lot. Someone said that the comfortable personal space between strangers is approximately 1,5 meters. So if you are standing too close to someone while talking you will notice that Finn would try to get a bit further from you. Also touching strangers while talking tot hem might turn into an awkward situation. In more Southern cultures, for example, it is acceptable for someone to tap on someone’s shoulder or hold his/her arm for a second as a sign of sympathy.
5. “Weird” Championships
Let’s end this facts list with a special one. Finland hosts annual “weird” world championships. Just to mention one, Finland is the host of world championship in air guitar annually. Air guitar is a form of dance and movement in which the performer pretends to play an electric guitar. It usually consists of strumming and picking motions and is often coupled with lip-synching or loud screaming.
“It’s not what you play, it’s how you play it”. Every year, air guitarists from all around the world buy their tickets to Oulu in Finland. However, not every guitarist can just enter his name and attend the world championship competition. They have to be tested first and are national champions.
If you haven’t read our previous blog about TOP5 weird-looking Finnish foods yet, I suggest you to read it right here!