I have yet to experience a snow covered winter in Finland, but I’m willing to bet that the summertime is the best time of the year here!
One of the fun things about this country is that almost every town has its own summer festival it is known for. This is when the cities come alive with outdoor markets, music, vendors, and people out just enjoying the weather.
Two big festivals I recently experienced are both on the west coast of Finland.
Pori Jazz Festival
The Pori Jazz Festival, located in Pori, Finland, is well known across the country. The festival is usually held around the middle of July and lasts for over a week. 2012 was the 47th year. With many local and international artists to choose from, there is music all over the city. Two of the headliners this year were Aaron Neville and Norah Jones. You can purchase tickets to the main stages or enjoy the bands playing at the free stages.
Pori Jazz is similar to any big festival you would see in the States, but with a Finnish twist. There are tons of food vendors with many different things to try, and of course lots to drink. Among other things, I found the equivalent to the American funnel cake, which in Finland is like a fried doughnut hole covered in sugar and cinnamon. Can’t go wrong with those combinations! And if you’re adventurous they serve up tiny fried fish, which people seem to eat like french fries. You just pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy.
Rauma Lace Week
Rauma Lace Week (Rauman Pitsiviikko) is another big, week-long festival. I know lace may not sound too exciting, but it’s actually an awesome time. Every July, the Old Town of Rauma comes alive during this week. Backyards, alleyways and art studios that are usually closed behind gates swing their doors open to the public. You can wander into private backyards where many people have intriguing museums and yard sales set up selling clothes, dishes, books and knickknacks.
During Lace Week, there are also many activities to choose from including lace making demonstrations (this is something Rauma is well known for), dance classes, weaving classes, and the list goes on. It’s a great chance to try something you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity for. There is live music all over, but the highlight of the week is Black Lace Night.
Black Lace Night is when the party begins. Extra stages are set up for live music and more vendors cover the streets. Many people dress in their black lace, but of course it’s not a requirement!
If you are planning a trip to Finland it is definitely worth finding out when the big festivals take place. Check out any guidebook for a list of festivals in the town you are visiting, or check out www.festivals.fi, which has a listing of all of the big festivals in Finland.