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Top events in Helsinki
3 minute read
a woman waving her hat by the sea in the urban Helsinki

Credits:: Mikko Huotari

Helsinki is packed with events

With an annual calendar of events focused on everything from innovation and technology to cinema and performance art, Helsinki always has something interesting happening. Here are a few picks to add to your schedule.

Helsinki Biennial decorations at Senate Square
The Helsinki Biennial, scheduled for 2021 and 2023, is an international event that brings contemporary art to the heart of Helsinki.
Credits: Mariia Kauppi

Spend Labour Day in the park with thousands of locals

May 1st is Labour Day in Finland. With strong roots in working-class culture, the festivities around vappu have evolved into a big party that’s beloved by all. The evening of April 30th into the holiday morning is traditionally spent with friends and family, having a long meal at home or at a local restaurant. The morning of the 1st, however, is more raucous, with thousands of Finns parading into Helsinki’s Kaivopuisto Park to herald the arrival of spring. Be sure to pack a picnic full of traditional delicacies like sima, an homemade fermented drink; munkki, sugary doughnuts; and perunasalaatti, a creamy potato salad. Locals typically meet and greet each other in the park, then head home to continue the party – perhaps finishing with a round of late-night karaoke in the local pub. Traditional iskelmä, or folk songs, are guaranteed!

Learn more about First of May in Helsinki at MyHelsinki site.

May Day celebrations in the center of Helsinki
Every year on May 1st, Finns gather in Kaivopuisto Park for picnics – regardless of the weather!
Credits: : Jussi Hellstén / MyHelsinki
Students celebrating the May Day in the center of Helsinki
Labour Day (or May Day) is April 30th and traditionally kicks off with various university student celebrations in and around Helsinki city centre.
Credits:: Visit Helsinki

See another side of the city during Helsinki Design Week

Helsinki Design Week has been happening every September since 2005. With a festival programme that includes approximately 250 individual events each year, this is the largest design festival in the Nordics, and it offers guests rare access to previously forgotten or abandoned venues. The festival, for example, was the first to reopen the doors of the old customs warehouse (Tulli-ja pakkahuone), the old abattoir (Teurastamo) and the old port warehouse (Jätkäsaari). In 2019, Helsinki Design Week took over Erottaja 2, a neo-renaissance palace in the heart of Helsinki, and in 2020, the event was held in the recently renovated Olympic Stadium. Don’t miss this year’s event, with highlights like PechaKucha Night and presentations from local and international design legends.

Check out the Finnish design flagship stores in Helsinki.

Finnish design clothing on display
Looking to venture outside Helsinki city centre on your search for Finnish design gems? Head east to the Marjaniemi district, where you’ll find Ivana Helsinki’s 1970s-inspired atelier house.
Credits: Helsinki Design Week

Celebrate the Kekri harvest festival in Suomenlinna

Kekri is a Finnish harvest festival that’s held in autumn. Once celebrated all over Finland, this holiday has largely been eclipsed by Christmas, to which many old Kekri traditions have migrated. During the ancient Kekri Festival on the island of Suomenlinna just off Helsinki, guests and residents alike can join in fall festivities before the long, dark winter descends on Finland. In fact, one of the notions behind the festival is to look darkness in the face without fear. While this can sound a bit grim to those unfamiliar with the tradition, Kekri is actually a celebration of new arising from old. As the souls of the dead return to the world of the living, people indulge in heaps of food, plenty of joyous music and a variety of fun-filled games, all to celebrate the season’s harvest and the last days of light before winter.

a woman participating in a traditional Kekri celebration in Suomenlinna
Credits: Viaporin Kekri

Enjoy top-notch arts and culture in Helsinki

The Helsinki Festival is held annually in late summer, and it’s the largest arts festival in the Nordics. Don’t be intimidated by its size, though – the event’s ultimate goal is to make art accessible to all. Featuring classical and world music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts, Helsinki Festival’s diverse programme ensures every visitor’s tastes and interests are addressed. Make it a priority to stop by and enjoy a performance or two.

an unplugged band performing in a seaside urban setting
Credits: : Julia Kivelä
a performance in the center of helsinki
Credits:: Mika Ruusunen / City of Helsinki Cultural Office

Get the first look at the latest movies during the International Film Festival

The Helsinki International Film Festival (HIFF) is a non-competitive film festival that’s been running since 1988. Held annually in September, it promotes the artistry of filmmaking and focuses on showcasing new talent. If you attend HIFF, you’ll probably notice many Helsinkians flocking to the cinema as colder winds begin to blow into town. Two fantastic theatres to see for yourself are the cosy Riviera in Kallio, where you can book a loveseat, and Cinema Orion, one of the oldest establishments in the city.

a traditional movie theater in the centre of Helsinki
Credits: Tuomas Uusheimo

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