• Dinner outside. Photo: Lauri Rotko/Visit Helsinki material bank

A lot to experience in the summer of Helsinki

The summer season of tourism in Helsinki starts in the beginning of May and finishes at the end of September. During five summer months, the number of visitors to city will be as big as during seven winter months in total. The number of people staying overnight at accommodation businesses is expected to grow slightly, when compared to the summer season 2013.

In addition to the visitors staying at accommodation businesses, the city will be visited by approximately 260 international cruise ships that will bring some 390,000 cruise passengers to Helsinki. The conference summer is also shaping up nicely. The European conference in the field of intelligent transport systems, 10th ITS European Congress, is one of the biggest conferences of the year and it will bring around 1,200 conference guests to the city in mid-June.

New experiences in the pipeline

The events and attractions programme of Helsinki is at its best during the summer season. One of the most visible novelties of the season is the Katajanokka ferris wheel, which will open by the Market Square on 15 May. It is flanked by the events café of the Allas City Spa, due to open next year. This summer, a diverse range of city culture events from music to markets and live clubs to social dances can already be enjoyed on the cosy terrace of the café. The terrace’s grass field is a nice place for picnics and sunbathing.

On the other side of the Market Square, the renewed Old Market Hall opens its doors after the renovation on 9 June. In addition to the shopkeepers returning home from the Hietalahti Market Hall, there will be a number of new entrepreneurs in the hall. The central space of the hall will be occupied by the café-restaurant Story, which is run by top chefs and confectioners.

In late summer, the Market Square is buzzing when Hotel Manta of Helsinki opens around the Havis Amanda statue. It is Tatzu Nishi’s arts project, which is now experienced for the first time in the Nordic countries. The construction of the art piece, which is a part of the Helsinki Festival programme, starts on the week following Midsummer. The art piece is made possible by the Helsinki City Art Museum, in cooperation with Restel, the Design Museum and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. The hotel is open from 15 August to 12 October and room reservations can be made starting early May through Restel’s Hotel World website at www.hotelworld.fi. The price for one night is about 130 euros and the room is at the guest’s disposal from 6 pm to 10.30 am. The public can experience the hotel daily between 11.30 am and 5.30 pm. The tickets cost approx. 3 euros, free admission for under 18s.

Another novelty is the Lonna Island, located just off Suomenlinna, with a service starting on 17 May. The previously closed military island now opens up for recreational use and the visitors are served by, for example, a café and a restaurant. The JT-Line service runs to the Lonna Island about once an hour during the summer season. The ferries depart from the Market Square and always stop at the Lonna quay on their way to Suomenlinna.

The novelty ride at Linnanmäki, the free fall tower Kingi, provides a wild ride and a chance to admire Helsinki from the upper air. While riding around, visitors can meet the one and only Santa Claus at Linnanmäki’s new Santa Claus World. The programmatic Christmas tale with gnomes leads the participants to the Santa Claus and is especially interesting to foreign visitors. Linnanmäki has also started a collaboration with the Holiday Inn Helsinki hotel at the Messukeskus, Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre. Linnanmäki ticket products can be conveniently purchased directly at the hotel, while a Linnanmäki-themed play corner will also be built in the hotel lobby to deal with the children’s initial amusement park excitement.

A newcomer is added to the events calendar of the summer season, when the first Wake the Stadium kiteboarding event is held at the Helsinki Swimming Stadium on 7 June. At the stadium, European professionals and Finnish stars will perform some dashing wakesurf tricks. The event will also feature, for example, synchronised swimming and diving performances. An attendance of more than 6,000 persons is expected at the sports-minded event.

A new community festival, Art All Over, is held on 14–15 June with the theme “Let’s make a festival together”. During the two days, anyone can make art and bring it forward alone or together, at home or on the street, in the yard or in the park. The team behind the festival is the Yhteismaa registered association with focus on participatory events, Extempore.fi – a fastlane to culture, as well as number of people in the field of culture. The patrons of the event are, for example, director Marco Bjurström, community artist Kaisa Salmi and choreographer-actor Sami Saikkonen.

Another new event of the season is the Sibelius Finland Experience concert series at the Helsinki Music Centre from 17 June to 8 August. The concerts, performed daily at 12 noon, offer a quality experience where the music of Sibelius and photographs from the Finnish nature meet. The duration of the performance is 45 minutes and bundled with the tickets, priced at 34.50–39.50 euros, comes a Sibelius CD designed by Erik Bruun and a party drink after the event. The admission is free for under 12s accompanied by an adult.

Events schedule packed through the summer

The summer season starts with the now-traditional Lovely Helsinki City Festival on 14–18 May. The event, which brings a variety of program and flower splendour to the city centre, is a tribute to the summer and Helsinki from the shopping centres, shops and other actors of the Helsinki city centre. Right after that we get to enjoy Pop in a Shop, an event arranged by the traditional “plinth shops” on 19–24 May. The goal of the event is to vitalise and promote the boutique culture in Helsinki. Programme and deals are offered to encourage visitors to find the hidden treasures of Helsinki – small companies that offer excellent services and unique products. The Helsinki Trend View fashion show is arranged as a part of the event in the Banquet Hall of the Helsinki City Hall on Wednesday, 21 May at 5.30 pm, free entrance. A different kind of vibe is experienced during Cleaning Day on 24 May, when the whole city is filled with flea markets.

Helsinki Samba Carnaval brings the brilliant parades of the Samba schools to the city centre on 7 June. In addition to the samba event, the highlights of the summer include the traditional Helsinki Day on 12 June, followed by the enjoyable Kainutlaatuinen – Kainuu on the Senate Square provincial festivities on 13–15 June. The metal music festival Tuska on 27–29 June and the music and city culture festival Flow Festival on 8–10 August are some of the top music festivals of the summer.

Finland’s biggest multi-arts festival, the Helsinki Festival, will be enjoyed in the city from 15 to 31 August. The Helsinki Festival’s popular city event, The Night of the Arts, will be held on Thursday, 21 August. This year, everyone is also invited to create arts. Own events can be submitted to the Helsinki Festival before 19 August. Also a part of the Helsinki Festival, the now 20-year-old Art goes Kapakka city festival is arranged in the central bars, cafés and restaurants of Helsinki from 14 to 23 August.

Another annual summer event, the Jazz-Espa festival, will be arranged for the 15th time at the Esplanade Park in Helsinki. The daily performances start at 4 pm and they are now delivered as a more concise package from 28 July to 2 August. The event is finished off with jams at the JazzPiknik open-air event on 3 August, when six Finnish bands perform on the Espa’s stage and the event expands to the Glass Palace square. The jazz atmosphere continues in the autumn when the Jazz Finland festival takes place on 18-21 September at the concert stages in the city centre.

The Helsinki Design Week will be arranged in late summer from 4 to 14 September and this year, it celebrates its 10-year anniversary. The Design Market, arranged as part of the Design Week, is the biggest design warehouse sale in the Nordic countries and it gathers the design fans to the Cable Factory on 6-7 September. The rest of the programme for the festive year will be published in early May.

A trip to Suomenlinna is another ”must thing” of the summer. Guided walking tours, arranged from 1 June to 31 August, shed some light on the history of the island group. The Suomenlinna exhibitions, events and restaurants supplement the tours and children may also want to visit the Captain’s lost drawings adventure tour. The tour takes the children and their parents to an exciting and funny time travel to the age of Enlightenment in Vyborg. The adventure tours are arranged from 10 June to 9 August. Alice in Wonderland –The girl who fell to time is a play for the whole family that will be performed at the Suomenlinna summer theatre.

During the summer season, different kinds of pop-up events will also be arranged in the Tori Quarters, the Design District, at the Abattoir and at the Korjaamo Culture Factory.

Lots of summer exhibitions to choose from

The exhibitions of the summer season include the Kiasma+Marimekko=Together from 16 May to 7 September, when top names of Finnish contemporary art, design and fashion will meet at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Another “must” stop for friends of design is the Design Museum, which stages a centennial jubilee exhibition in honour of Ilmari Tapiovaara from 6 June to 21 September.

Vacation habits of the past can be viewed at the National Museum of Finland’s Emperor Alexander III of Russia and Finland - Imperial Summer Holidays exhibition from 6 June to 14 September. The collection exhibition The Big Picture is the summer exhibition of the Amos Anderson Art Museum from 19 June to 28 July and the popular Tove Jansson centennial jubilee exhibition can be viewed at the Ateneum Art Museum until 7 September.

The Finnish nature centre Haltia has an exhibition called The Son of the Forest, which introduces the life work of legendary Finnish nature photographer Hannu Hautala. Hautala has picked some of the most important images from each year of his career, from the 1960s to present time. The exhibition, which can be visited until November, offers a magnificent view into Finnish nature and the history of nature photography.

Delicacies top off the holiday

Those interested in food culture might want to visit the renewed Old Market Hall, but also the Hietalahti Market Hall, which continues as a food hall. In addition, the Hakaniemi Market Hall guarantees a traditional hall atmosphere and summery market delicacies by the hall.

Gastronomes may enjoy several delicious events also arranged in Helsinki. The highly popular Restaurant Day conquers the city twice during the summer, on 17 May and on 17 August. The Dinner under the Helsinki sky event invites everyone out to sit by the tables and enjoy the picnic delicacies on Helsinki Day, 12 June. On the same day starts the Taste of Helsinki food event, which continues in the park of the Kansalaistori Square until June 15. In late summer, the Delicacies of Finland & Syystober food and beer festival will be enjoyed at the Rautatientori on 21–23 August.

Linnanmäki has also made some additions to its diverse range of delicacies with a Nordic Tex-Mex restaurant, the NordMex. The Restaurant is headed by Michael Björklund, known in Finland for example as the chef of Strömsö.

Updated 09/06/2015