Helsinki residents love our city — the small size of it, the ease with which we can get around, the great infrastructure, the architecture, the opportunities it has to offer. The list goes on and on (and even caught the eye of The Economist Intelligence Unit, which named Helsinki one of the world’s top 10 most livable cities in 2012). From June 7 to 15, we celebrate the Finnish capital and its heritage during Helsinki Week, filled with music, exhibitions, outdoor activities and more. Here’s the scoop on how to partake in the festivities, from the designated Helsinki Day to the full week of fun.
On June 12, Helsinki Day, celebrations begin with a speech by Mayor Jussi Pajunen, music, coffee and rhubarb pie at City Hall. After this traditional morning coffee, you may want to squeeze in a workout at the open-air gym at Töölö Bay — where it’s Töölö Jubilee Week — and hop onto the floating yurt sauna to soothe your muscles. Take a dip in the heated Olympic Stadium swimming pool, or any other pool in and around the city, since entrance will be free. Don your favorite hat and pick up some nibbles (cucumber sandwiches, perhaps) and tea to be part of the Hat Picnic at Hakasalmi Villa. Hats will also be on display inside the villa in the Made In Helsinki exhibition.
But this is just the beginning of things to do on Helsinki Day. Grab a bottle of wine and some slightly salted salmon at the Market Square and catch the magic under the northern skies at a table along the Esplanade, or find yourself hopping and bopping to some seriously talented Finnish bands such as Sunrise Avenue. Get yourself over to the hip, trendy Kallio part of town where Vaasankatu (Vaasa Street) will be turned into one long art gallery with videos, sculptures and performance art. Something a little more cerebral could lead you to the Helsinki Observatory — designed by architect C.L. Engel — which hosts a fascinating display of astronomy. And the best part? It’s all free. All you’ll need is free time to take in the myriad events on this day of fun and festivities.
If one day isn’t enough, you’ll be happy to know that Helsinki Week kicks off on June 7. The party begins with the Samba Carnival, during which the city is filled with color, costumes, music and drumming to see which samba school will snag the annual prize. The North Karelia Province Days, from June 13 to 15, will demonstrate the region’s hospitality and love of socializing at Senate Square with music, dance and delicacies such as rice-filled rye-crusted pies, mushroom casseroles and smoked game sausages. The Mad about Helsinki exhibition at the Helsinki City Museum plans to depict the city’s residents’ best-loved places, as well as a history of Helsinki as portrayed by life stories from 12 people over time, starting in the 16th century. For a dose of more music, Pihlajamäki Goes Blues on June 8 is a showcase of laid-back music with the likes of Lena & The Slide Brothers and Little Willie & The Night Train.
Choose your gig, find details at the Helsinki Week website and let the party begin.
Photo Courtesy of Mikael Rantalainen