If you are Helsinki, you throw a party! (Actually, I think everybody might throw a party for being 200 years old.) The Helsinki party is more than just one day: the actual Helsinki Day is one day of an 18 day event called Helsinki Week. In 2012, the event ran from May 31st. June 17th marked the final day of this celebration of all things Helsinki.
As I wrote earlier, the new cycling path Baana * was officially opened. We were there close to the ribbon cutting:
The city used this day and occasion to distribute the new cycling map.
Everybody that rode through the Baana on the official opening received a map at the end. The maps are free and have more than just the cycle paths marked. Nature reserves are included, and many of these cycle paths become part of the cross-country ski tracks in winter. Cafés, museums, beaches, grilling spots, lookouts, historical sites, camping grounds and culturally significant spots are included. I actually have three: one with the bike, one at home for route planning and one in the car for locating new spots to visit! You can pick one up from any Helsinki library, the City of Helsinki Sports Department and the Helsinki Tourist Office. Helsinki City have also provided an electronic version.
There was an abundance of events to choose from on Helsinki Day. I’ve already decided that next year I am going to ensure that I know well in advance where the Historical Café will be. This year, the event was hosted in one of the city’s numerous museum buildings: Sederholm House. This café is not just any old café. The food on offer is made according to the tastes of 19th century Helsinki. In 2012 the menu included served almond cake, apple cake, individual meringues, as well as sweet and savoury pastries. As the recipes hark back to a time less industrial there is lots of butter! There was also the opportunity to enjoy some ‘tunes’ of the era.
City Hall activities for all the family the whole day. I would have enjoyed catching up with a Balinese clown and listening to some toe tapping big band sounds. For the young at heart there was a puppet theatre performance highlighting Helsinki’s foundation as well as some unique views of Finland.
As an extra special gift to Helsinki residents all swimming pools (both indoor and outdoor) were free of charge for the day, while the Olympic Stadium and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport also arranged special 60th birthday events.
Our highlight was going to be the concert staged in Kaisaniemi Park. The lineup was a great cross-section of Finnish (popular) music, and I wouldn’t be able to nominate a favourite. Reckless Love, Erin, POTF, Herra Ylppö & Ihmiset, Lauri Tähkä, Happoradio, Rasmus and Chisu. Okay, since you asked I have a big soft spot for Poets, Happoradio, Rasmus and Chisu, not necessarily in that order! Our plans changed somewhat and we ended up enjoying an impromptu dinner at the Savu Restaurant. A review will follow in due course.
As the Helsinki Week page will be updated in time for the 2013 Helsinki Week, I suggest that you have a look at the wide variety of events that were organised for this year. While there is too much for one person to be able to do and ENJOY everything, at least there is no shortage of things to do. My must-do list for next year already has some entries!
* Baana is colloquial Finnish word for road / route / track, and in this use is a very good example of classic Finnish play on words. This new cycling track has been built on an abandoned section of rail track from the harbour.