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