It’s June and Midsummer is fast approaching.
The weather’s been so good that everyone’s been out on the streets celebrating and even the shy crocuses and narcissi are beaming. Window boxes have been dusted off displaying bunches of bright geraniums and other eye-catchers on balconies and terraces all over the city. It’s time to party and here are some colourful hints to get you going!
Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden
Walk around the parks of Helsinki and you’ll see plenty of summer workers with rolled up sleeves cleaning up the debris after the long winter. Flowerbeds are full and carefully tended throughout the summer. But if you really want to see gardening at its best, go to the showpiece of gardens at Kaisaniemi. Wandering around doesn’t cost you anything but for a small charge you can enter any or all of the ten glasshouses where a torrid desert meets a tropical rainforest, where the Santa Cruz lily stretches out on a pond in the Waterlily Room. Watch out for the beehives where bees in an urban context are observed, all part of the Melliferopolis – Honeybees in Urban Environments project.
Linnanmäki & Sea Life
There’s nothing quite like sticky candy floss and gaudy rides to get the kids all excited and away from screens for a day. This fun fair is unique in that all the profits are channelled into a children’s welfare fund. While you and your kids are squealing on the Hiphop or Helicopter, that warm, fuzzy feeling of doing something good makes the money you spend worth it. Cinema 4D are for those of us over 7 years of age where you can follow Scrat, the nut-crazy squirrel or surround yourself with sharks. Speaking of which, Sea Life is right next door for the real thing. It’s also a great opportunity for children to learn about the environment and how our oceans are being polluted.
Grayson Perry: Folk Wisdom
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art hosts one of the most extensive and vivid exhibitions ever displayed in Helsinki. Grayson Perry himself is what you might call a ‘colourful’ character in his alter-ego role as Claire. He doesn’t shy away from bright attire, funny hats, platform shoes and plenty of make-up. As crazy as all this might sound, he’s a serious commentator on contemporary society and his huge tapestries, tall ceramic pots and sculptures are chock-full of detail and criticism but at the same time there’s humour and plenty of tongue-in-cheek moments. This exhibition ends on 2 September 2018.
Every year on 12 June, the capital throws wide its doors and invites the whole city to come out and see, watch, taste, experience, swim, dance, and do any other fun thing you can think of. Most of the activities are free of charge, some need to be booked and many are accessible to wheelchair owners. Check out the programme to take part in this day of days to be celebrated.
Aleksis Kiven Katu Flea Market
Some retail therapy never goes amiss especially when it’s a bargain and there are plenty of those to be had at this flea market in a truly, interesting part of the city. As long as the weather is clement, locals pull out their tables and racks and sell off their vintage collections from vinyls to clothes. There are no formal organisers and every seller is responsible for their own stuff and whatever mess they make. It happens every Sunday at Dallapénpuisto (Dallapé Park) from 11 am. It’s hard to miss since the park extends a long way along Aleksis Kivi Street.
Delve deep into folklore and find the magic of all those bonfires that light up the Helsinki coastline. There are many of them and some say it’s a prayer to the gods to extend the daylight hours since the days will get shorter from then onwards. Dancing, maypoles and parties are held in the countryside but also in the city nowadays. Take a romantic boat ride to see experience this brilliant, cheerful evening in true Finnish fashion. Live music and a dance floor at Seurasaari Island is the traditional venue but there are plenty of other spots including Pihjalasaari where you can pitch your tent, have a sauna, make a barbecue and stay awake till dawn.
And for the most eye-candy of them all, let’s not forget the boisterous Helsinki Samba Carnival, a parade where the drums thump, the feathers froth and the hips sway.
On the streets of the capital on Saturday 9 June 2018