For all of its well-earned reputations for being the world’s kookiest nation – what with the World Nokia Phone-Throwing contests; Wife Carrying Competitions and voluntary naked ice-swimming; Finland isn’t just about being bizarre for the sake of it.  There is a point to all of this madness – come the (endless) summer…  With days stretching out to 24 hour Party People (I mean, daylight) in the far north – it seems only reasonable to expect that this country might play host to some of the most laid-back summer festivals.

Granted, it isn’t exactly a place that generates much global attention – apart from their acclaimed Nokia technology and more recently Novio’s Angry Birds; Finland has kept pretty much to itself in terms of promoting its own worth.  Then again, the Finns wouldn’t typically have it any other way.

That is, until they set eyes on a class of Karhu (that’s beer – or bear – to you and I).  Quiet?  Unassuming?  Gentile?  Nah.  And what better place to exhibit your true colours than amongst other like-minded live-music lovers.

Home to musical talents such as HIM, The Rasmus, Nightwish and every Granny’s Eurovision favourite, Lordy – it’s understandable that outside of the five million people living within its borders, the perception of this politically-colourful-yet-conforming country is one of dark, penetrating winters which kill every bit of life spirit you ever owned.  Possibly an accurate observation.  You only have to listen to the lyrics and scan a number of Finnish music magazines to see that black leather, chains and darkness pervades the whole scene.  However, let us not forget dance outfits such as Bombfunk MCs and Darude.  See?  They can do ‘happy’, too.  Don’t expect to see a smile, though.

Having pretty much always drawn the short-straw when it comes to worldy street-credibility, Finland has always accepted its backseat hierarchical status compared to its neighbours, the Swedes.  Apart from being on the average (or above average), tall, beautifully blonde and too fashion savvy for their own slender-selves – the Swedes have cultivated such musical talents (in some cases this might be debatable) as ABBA, Roxette, The Cardigans, and Robyn – and laterly, The Hives, Miike Snow, Peter Bjorn and John, and sister-due First Aid Kit.  Oh, and did we mention – all that she wants is another baby?  Yes, you’ve got it – even the phenomenal Ace of Base came out of this free-love culture.  Life really *is* a flower.

But anyway, back to dark, depressive and gothic Finland.

So – why would you want to spend your hard-earned pounds/dollars/euros/rupees/korunas on a flight to this northern country that boasts more reindeer than people; produced flower-power brand Marimekko (which quite frankly makes us all look about fifty years older than we actually are); and survives the winter malaise by hiding in a hovel with a crate of Olut (that’s beer – in plural – to you and I)?

Good question.  I cannot fault you for asking it – and I myself wonder why I chose to come here, too.  To live.  A whole six months ago, in fact.

Well let’s start with a few facts – that you might want to consider.

  • Experience the joy of dining in the world’s most northerly McDonalds situated in Rovaniemi.
  • Do not experience the joy of sipping on a latte in Starbucks (you won’t find any, apart from a recently opened branch in Helsinki’s aeroporti).
  • Have fun exercising your ability to live a SISU life – that is, show-off to your mates back at home that you don’t give up easily – by stripping off, sweating it out in a sauna and occasionally being beaten by birch twigs, followed by a risky-yet-invigorating plunge into the nearest ice-lake that you can lay your goggley eyes on.
  • Purchase a sensuous-but-practical all-in-one shellsuit ensemble and aim to out-do your fellow townies in who can sport the most garish or fluorescent shade.
  • Learn to communicate in neanderthal-tones – using a minimalistic gesture, a grunt or a nod – to convey your true feelings.  By no means enter into an elaborate exchange of linguistic showmanship.  No touching allowed, either.

Then again, the five commandments listed above need not apply when attending one of Finland’s annual music festivals.  Because, believe it or not, this country really does know the meaning of efficient hedonism.  There’ll be no wasting valuable time over who’s getting in the next round (another rule of thumb: buy your own beers) or whether to pack a spare pair of boxers.  Oh no.  This is Finland remember?  The land of Moomins, Fazer and Nokia.  On with the wellies and the birch-bark knapsack, and don’t forget the insect repellant, either.  You won’t find your typical fast-food chinese nosh-ups at these festivals.  But look closely – very closely – at the nearest vegetation – and do not be surprised if you find a bunch of naked figures eagerly competing for the biggest Cloudberry.

Silliness aside – here are a few facts why you should plan a visit to Finland this summer – and get yourself a ticket for one of their renowned music festivals:

  • No queueing for portaloos, no abyss-shit-pits (aka Glastonbury), and if you run out of loo-paper, there’s always the birch-bark (as you might realise, it is a versatile trusty tree).
  • Turku – the most historical city of Finland on the south coast plays host to Ruis Rock every July – on its own unique island, you can literally watch a gig, can in hand, refreshing water upto your knees…
  • The friendliest bunch of fellow-festivalees you’ll ever meet: apart from Midsummers Day (Juhannus), this might be the only opportunity you get to see a Finn actually smiling – no, wait for it – laughing.
  • Hurl yourself from the top of a crane with only a parachute sheet to catch you.  Hold me, kiss me, kill me, thrill me (was that the order…?)
  • Witness their very own Mike Monroe of Hanoi Rocks, lycra-leatheresque-clad from foot to toe – making like a monkey on salmiakki.

If you are a musician and you’re assessing which festival-joints you might want to show up to – consider Finland.  Apart from the aforementioned reasons why you should (and should not) come to this fine country, Finland has shown its resilience in the face of the world’s recession – which should mean that you might expect to get some form of payment (always a bonus).

Contact me at: — if you would like any information on Finland’s festivals; music venues or booking.  I’ll be happy to assist.


  • Finnish Metal Expo 2012 – 17th – 18th February – Helsinki.


  • Close Up Baten 2012 – 8th March – cruise from Stockholm, Sweden to Abo, Finland.


  • Steelfest Open Air 2012 – 18th – 19th May – Hyvinkää.


  • Sonisphere 2012 – 4th June – Helsinki.
  • Kivenlahti Rock 2012 – 8th – 9th June – Espoo.
  • Provinssirock 2012 – 15th – 17th June –  Seinäjoki.
  • Tuska Open Air Metal Festival 2012 – 29th June – 1st July – Helsinki.


  • Ruis Rock 2012 – 6th – 8th June – Turku. *Confirmed acts:  The Cardigans (to play Gran Turismo in full); Nightwish.


  • Flow Festival 2012 – 12th – 14th August – Helsinki.

Video copyrights owned by Toni Koskinen – @


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