Holidays and Festivals in Finland

Finland, a country renowned for its breathtaking natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage, boasts a vibrant tapestry of holidays and festivals throughout the year. These celebrations are a window into the Finnish soul, offering both locals and visitors alike a chance to partake in the nation's traditions, arts, and communal spirit. From the magical allure of the Northern Lights to the historical solemnity of Independence Day, Finnish holidays and festivals span a broad spectrum of experiences, each with its own unique flavor and significance. This exploration takes you deep into the heart of Finland's festive calendar, uncovering the customs, traditions, and contemporary takes on these cherished celebrations.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day in Finland is a time of fresh starts and celebrations. As the first holiday of the year, it is welcomed with fireworks, street parties, and special events. Families and friends gather to enjoy a festive meal, often including traditional Finnish dishes. The night before, New Year's Eve, is marked by making resolutions for the year ahead and enjoying the lively atmosphere in towns and cities across the country. The celebration of New Year's Day embodies the Finnish spirit of hope and renewal.

Epiphany

Epiphany, known in Finland as loppiainen, is celebrated on January 6th. This holiday marks the end of the Christmas season and is associated with the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. In Finland, Epiphany might involve attending church services and enjoying a quiet day at home with family. It is a reflective day, coming after the bustling Christmas holidays, offering a moment of calm and contemplation before the start of the new year's regular routines.

Good Friday

Good Friday in Finland is observed with solemnity and respect, reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is a day of quiet reflection for many, with Christian Finns attending special church services. The atmosphere is contemplative, with public entertainment and loud activities often subdued out of respect for the day's significance. This day contributes to the deeply reflective Easter period, leading up to the joy of Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Easter Monday

Easter Monday, following the solemnity of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday, is a day of relaxation and family gatherings in Finland. Many Finns take advantage of the long weekend to enjoy outdoor activities, especially if the weather permits. It's a time for traditional Easter meals, which may include lamb and mämmi, a Finnish Easter dessert. Easter Monday caps off the Easter celebrations, blending religious significance with the joy of spring's arrival.

May Day

May Day, or Vappu, is one of Finland's most lively and colorful festivals. Celebrated from April 30th to May 1st, Vappu is akin to a national carnival, with street parades, music, and picnicking in parks. Students don their traditional white caps, and cities come alive with markets and fairs. Vappu is a celebration of spring, labor, and student life, embodying the Finnish love for nature and community.

Ascension Day

Ascension Day in Finland, occurring 40 days after Easter, is a Christian holiday commemorating the ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is a day of religious significance, with church services and quiet reflection. For many, it also marks a time to enjoy the burgeoning spring, as families might head outdoors to embrace the warmer weather and the beautiful natural scenery that Finland offers.

Midsummer Day

Midsummer Day, or Juhannus, is one of Finland's most cherished holidays, celebrating the longest day of the year. It is a time of joy, marked by bonfires, dancing, and spending time in nature. Many Finns retreat to their summer cottages by lakes or the sea, enjoying the beauty of the Finnish summer with family and friends. Midsummer Day is a tribute to the light and warmth of the season, deeply rooted in ancient traditions.

All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day in Finland is a day of remembrance for the deceased. It is a solemn holiday, observed by visiting cemeteries to light candles for lost loved ones. The flickering lights in graveyards create a serene and reflective atmosphere. While rooted in Christian tradition, the day transcends religious boundaries, becoming a universal moment of memory and respect for all Finns.

Independence Day

Independence Day, celebrated on December 6th, marks Finland's declaration of independence from Russia in 1917. It is a day of national pride, featuring parades, ceremonies, and the President's reception, which is broadcasted nationwide. Finns display the national flag and light candles in their windows to honor the sacrifices made for the country's freedom. Independence Day is a profound expression of Finnish identity and unity.

Christmas

Christmas in Finland is a magical time, filled with traditions and family gatherings. Christmas Day and the Second Day of Christmas are public holidays that allow Finns to celebrate with loved ones, enjoy festive meals, and exchange gifts. The holiday season in Finland is characterized by its deep winter, the possibility of a white Christmas, and the warmth of Finnish hospitality. From the Christmas markets to the peaceful Christmas Eve, the season is imbued with a special spirit.

Tampere Film Festival (March)

The Tampere Film Festival is one of the most esteemed short and documentary film festivals in the world, held annually in the city of Tampere. This event showcases a diverse collection of films, ranging from cutting-edge documentaries to innovative short films, drawing filmmakers and enthusiasts from across the globe. The festival serves as a platform for creative expression and discussion, with various competitions, workshops, and panels that delve into the art of filmmaking. It's an essential event for anyone passionate about cinema, offering a glimpse into the trends and talents shaping the future of film.

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival (June/July)

Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, held in Helsinki, is a testament to Finland's love for heavy metal music. It is one of the largest metal festivals in Northern Europe, featuring both Finnish and international bands. The festival provides a platform for the metal community to come together, celebrating the genre's intensity and the camaraderie among fans. Beyond the music, Tuska offers a range of activities and exhibitions, making it a holistic experience for metal enthusiasts.

Midnight Sun Film Festival (June)

The Midnight Sun Film Festival is an extraordinary cinematic event held in Sodankylä, Lapland, under the never-setting sun of the Finnish summer. It celebrates the art of filmmaking, featuring screenings around the clock, discussions, and workshops. The festival is a unique blend of international and Finnish cinema, set against the backdrop of Lapland's mesmerizing midnight sun. This event is a testament to the power of cinema to bring people together, regardless of the time of day.

Ruisrock (July)

Ruisrock is one of the oldest rock festivals in Europe, taking place on the picturesque island of Ruissalo in Turku. It offers a mix of international and Finnish rock, pop, and electronic music, attracting thousands of music lovers each year. The festival is known for its beautiful seaside setting and relaxed atmosphere, making it a favorite summer destination. Ruisrock's commitment to a high-quality music lineup and environmental sustainability makes it a standout event.

Tangomarkkinat (July)

Tangomarkkinat, or the Tango Festival in Seinäjoki, highlights the unexpected Finnish passion for tango music. This festival brings together tango enthusiasts to dance, enjoy music, and celebrate the Finnish interpretation of this passionate dance form. It's a unique cultural phenomenon, blending Finnish sentimentality with the rhythms of traditional tango. Beyond the dance, Tangomarkkinat is a celebration of Finnish summer, offering an array of concerts, competitions, and events that capture the joy and community spirit of tango culture in Finland.

Kaustinen Folk Music Festival (July)

The Kaustinen Folk Music Festival is a lively celebration of folk music and dance, making it a standout event in Finland's cultural calendar. Held annually in the small town of Kaustinen, this festival has grown to become one of the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries. For over a week, attendees are treated to performances by both Finnish and international artists, showcasing a wide array of folk traditions. The festival's atmosphere is vibrant and welcoming, with workshops, open-air dances, and jam sessions that encourage participation from all ages. It's a testament to Finland's deep-rooted love for folk music and its commitment to preserving these traditions for future generations.

Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (July)

The Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival is an internationally renowned event that transforms the quiet town of Kuhmo into a hub for classical music lovers each summer. Over two weeks, the festival features a packed schedule of concerts that highlight the talents of musicians from around the world. The focus on chamber music provides a unique intimacy to the performances, allowing attendees to experience the intricacies of classical compositions up close. This festival not only celebrates classical music but also the beauty of Finland's nature, with many concerts set against the backdrop of Kuhmo's picturesque landscapes. It's a perfect blend of cultural enrichment and natural serenity.

Savonlinna Opera Festival (July/August)

The Savonlinna Opera Festival is hosted in the stunning medieval Olavinlinna Castle, offering a unique setting for opera performances. This internationally acclaimed festival draws opera enthusiasts from around the world, showcasing classic operas and contemporary works. The historic ambiance of the castle adds an extra layer of majesty to the musical experience. The festival's picturesque location on a lake adds to the magic, creating unforgettable memories for its attendees.

Flow Festival (August)

Flow Festival is a modern music and arts festival held in Helsinki, showcasing a diverse range of music genres and artistic performances. It attracts international artists and visitors, creating a vibrant atmosphere of creativity and celebration. Flow Festival is a highlight of the Finnish summer, offering an eclectic mix of entertainment against the backdrop of Helsinki's dynamic urban landscape. The festival not only celebrates music but also sustainability, making it a green event loved by attendees.

Helsinki Festival (August/September)

The Helsinki Festival is Finland's largest arts festival, presenting a wide array of cultural events ranging from music and dance to theater and visual arts. Held in late summer, it aims to make art accessible to all, featuring both free and ticketed events across the city. The festival embodies the Finnish appreciation for the arts, bringing together local and international talent. Its diverse program encourages exploration and engagement with the arts in new and exciting ways.

Helsinki Book Fair (October)

The Helsinki Book Fair is a must-visit event for book lovers, bringing together authors, publishers, and readers in Finland's capital city. Held annually, the fair features a wide range of literary works, from the latest bestsellers to rare finds. Attendees can enjoy a program full of discussions, interviews, and signings, providing unique opportunities to engage with their favorite authors. The fair also highlights themes related to literature, culture, and society, making it a vibrant forum for intellectual exchange. It's not just a celebration of books but a reflection of the Finnish people's love for reading and continuous learning.

Baltic Circle Festival (November)

The Baltic Circle Festival is a contemporary theater and performance festival held in Helsinki, focusing on experimental and cutting-edge works. It provides a platform for new ideas and collaborations between Finnish and international artists, challenging audiences with innovative performances and installations. The festival is a testament to Finland's vibrant and dynamic arts scene. Baltic Circle goes beyond traditional theater boundaries, incorporating various art forms and media to create immersive experiences that provoke thought and encourage dialogue among its participants and viewers.

Nature and Light Festivals (Various Months)

Finland's Nature and Light Festivals, such as the Lux Helsinki light festival, highlight the country's stunning natural beauty and its seasonal contrasts. These festivals use light art installations to transform cities and landscapes, celebrating the dark winter months or the abundance of light in summer. They offer a mesmerizing experience, showcasing Finland's innovative spirit and love for nature. The interplay of light and darkness not only illuminates the beauty of Finland's landscapes but also symbolizes the country's enduring fascination with the natural world, inviting visitors to see the environment through a creative and enchanting lens.

Finland's holidays and festivals reflect a society that values tradition, nature, arts, and community. From the quiet reflection of Independence Day to the exuberant celebrations of Vappu and the artistic explorations of the Helsinki Festival, these events offer something for everyone. They are a celebration of Finnish identity, creativity, and the country's stunning natural environment, inviting both Finns and visitors to join in the festivities and experience the rich cultural tapestry of Finland.

Upcoming Holidays (next six months)

HolidayDateDayType
All Saints' Day November 02 Saturday Public Holiday
Independence Day December 06 Friday Public Holiday
Christmas Eve December 24 Tuesday Public Holiday
Christmas Day December 25 Wednesday Public Holiday
Second Day of Christmas December 26 Thursday Public Holiday
New Year's Day January 01 Wednesday Public Holiday
Epiphany January 06 Monday Public Holiday

Holidays by Year

Previous Year: 2023
This page was last edited on 23 February 2024 at 06:17 PM (EST).