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Bring on the Finnish summer festivals

Compiled by Anna Ruohonen, Sabrina Salzano and Peter Marten; text by Peter Marten, June 2014

Photo: Jussi Hellsten
Finland summer festivals, music, art, dance, movies
Summer’s here: This audience is enjoying Flow Festival, but similar summery scenes can be found at any number of festivals across Finland while the warm season lasts.

Summer in Finland revolves around festivals – well, also around summer cottages and nature, but we’re here to talk about the festivals. The nightless nights of the north set the scene for music of all genres, as well as movie screenings, art exhibitions, dance celebrations and even a strawberry fest.

Deciding where to go can be difficult, so here are our picks. To make it manageable, we divide the country into three parts: southern (from Tampere down to the Gulf of Finland), northern (from Oulu up to the Norwegian border) and middle (everything in between).

Wherever you are in Finland this summer, and whatever your interests, you’re bound to find festivals. In fact, you could probably attend one every single day, nonstop, from early June to late August. See you in front of the main stage!


Midnight Sun Film Festival

June 11–15, Sodankylä

Big stars in a tiny village, screenings around the clock, sunlight around the clock. Heaven for anyone interested in movies.

Festival website: Midnight Sun Film Festival
See also on thisisFINLAND: Movies and midnight sun in Sodankylä

Photo: Santeri HapponenMidnight Sun Film Festival

Jutajaiset Folklore Festival

June 25–29, Rovaniemi

Billed as a multi-art festival, Jutajaiset offers folk, pop and world music, and dancing – all this, strangely enough, in a town with a plaza named after Lordi, the monster-metal band that won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.

Festival website:   Jutajaiset Folklore Festival

Photo: Visit RovaniemiA quiet moment on Lordi Square
Calm before the fest: A quiet moment on Lordi Square.

Kalott Jazz & Blues

June 26–29; Tornio, Finland and Haparanda, Sweden

Most festivals claim to be international, but this one actually straddles the border between Finland and Sweden, with venues on both sides.

Festival website: Kalott Jazz & Blues
See also on thisisFINLAND:   Don’t mess with Finnish jazz

Photo: Olli Suutela/We Jazz LtdA quiet moment on Lordi Square
Timo Lassy performs at Kalott Jazz & Blues.

Oulu August Festival

July 31–Aug 31, Oulu

Actually a collection of different festivals in the area, from Elojazz (July 31–Aug 3) to the Air Guitar World Championship (Aug 27–30).

More info: Visit Oulu

Photo: Timo Heikkala/LehtikuvaMake noise at the Air Guitar World Championship.
Make noise at the Air Guitar World Championship.


Aug 8–9, Rovaniemi

The world’s northernmost rock fest features Finnish bands playing rap, rock, reggae and R ’n’ B, as well as a “circus” performance by the Dudesons, four Finns notorious for their self-destructive stunts as seen on MTV.

Festival website: Simerock

Photo: The DudesonsThe Dudesons
The Dudesons take Simerock by storm.


Kaustinen Folk Music Festival

July 7–13, Kaustinen

The largest and longest-running festival of its kind in northern Europe, Kaustinen continues to draw audiences to the vitality and inventiveness of traditional music, dance and song.

Festival website: Kaustinen Folk Music Festival
See also on thisisFINLAND: Inspiring children to play music

Photo: Hilppa HerdTradikaali is one of Kaustinen’s featured bands this year.
Tradikaali is one of Kaustinen’s featured bands this year.

Suonenjoki Strawberry Carnival

July 11–13, Suonenjoki

Everything here is about strawberries – Strawberry Farmer of the Year, National Strawberry Eating Championship, Miss Strawberry and even a strawberry church service, not to mention strawberry jam, juice, milkshakes, ice cream and cake.

Festival website: Suonenjoki Strawberry Carnival
(in Finnish)

Photo: c3lsius/, cc by nd 2.0Strawberries

Ilosaari Rock

July 11–13, Joensuu

Portishead and Alice in Chains are among the headliners at this eastern Finnish festival that ably competes with events in bigger cities farther west.

Festival website: Ilosaari Rock

Photo: Antti KirvesJ. Karjalainen, sometimes called the Bruce Springsteen of Finland.
J. Karjalainen, sometimes called the Bruce Springsteen of Finland, plays Ilosaari.

Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival

July 13–27, Kuhmo:

The town of Kuhmo is magically transformed into a centre for unique chamber music performances in beautiful, relaxing surroundings.

Festival website: Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival

Photo: Meta4Finnish string quartet Meta4
Finnish string quartet Meta4 performs in Kuhmo.

Full Moon Dance Festival

July 20–24, Pyhäjärvi

Choreographers and dancers doing new, creative and experimental dance find a welcoming home and enthusiastic audiences at Full Moon.

Festival website: Full Moon Dance Festival

Photo: Hanna KäyhköKinetic Orchestra dances "Wolfpack"
Kinetic Orchestra dances “Wolfpack” at Full Moon.


Avanti! Summer Sounds

June 25–29, Porvoo

Classical music in the picturesque town of Porvoo, less than an hour east of Helsinki. The theme for this year: Earthly Pleasures.

Festival website: Avanti! Summer Sounds

Photo: Marco BorggreveAvanti!

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival

June 27–29, Helsinki

Did you know that Finland has more metal bands per capita than any other country? Tuska can be translated as “agony,” and the festival always lives up to its name.

Festival website: Tuska Open Air Metal Festival

Photo: Aku-Axel MuukkaTuska Open Air Metal Festival in Helsinki, Finland

Imatra Big Band Festival

June 27–July 3, Imatra

This town is famous for its roaring waterfalls, but during the festival big bands, jazz music and even a few other genres (including a Michael Jackson tribute show) make themselves heard.

Festival website: Imatra Big Band Festival (in Finnish)

Photo: Aili Ikonen & Tribute to EllaAili Ikonen & Tribute to Ella
Aili Ikonen pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald in Imatra.

Kihveli Soikoon Skiffle Music Festival

July 18–20, Hankasalmi

The world’s only annual skiffle music festival. Need we say more?

Festival website: Kihveli Soikoon Skiffle Music Festival

Photo: Janne MikkiläJuurakko, Finland
The sounds of Juurakko contribute to Kihveli Soikoon.

Down by the Laituri

July 22–27, Turku:

Down by the Laituri (laituri means “dock”) brings music to the shores of the Aura River, this year headlined by world-famous The Rasmus and the eternally weird Leningrad Cowboys.

Festival website: Down by the Laituri (in Finnish)

Photo: Dirk BehlauFinnish rock band Leningrad Cowboys
Observe the Leningrad Cowboys’ hair in Turku.

Our Festival

July 27–Aug 2, Järvenpää:

Artistic director and virtuoso violinist Pekka Kuusisto seeks to “invent new, flexible forms for concerts, where the message is more important than dress codes or good behaviour.”

Festival website: Our Festival

Photo: Marco BorggreveCellist Nicolas Altstaedt
Cellist Nicolas Altstaedt plays at Our Festival.

Flow Festival

Aug 8–10, Helsinki:

What started out more than a decade ago as an alternative event has grown into an annual phenomenon with an amazing amount of top bands from Finland and abroad.

Festival website: Flow Festival

Photo: Jussi HellstenFlow Festival in Helsinki, Finland


Finland Festivals

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