The smoky smell evaporates from the chimneys of dozens of saunas scattered around the parking lot at Töölö Sports Hall in Helsinki.
The sports hall, which was originally built next to the Olympic Stadium for concerts and banquets and was during the 1952 Summer Olympics expanded to host sports events, such as the Olympic basketball finals, now stands till Sunday as the landmark for the largest sauna festival in the world: The Finnish Sauna Festival.
The parking lot, known as Mäntymäki field, is filled with more than 40 different saunas from an Iglusauna to a Karhu sauna and to a Boatsauna – the latter shaped like a reversed fishing boat! In addition to many food stalls, a massive stage for live music stands in the corner of the area.
On Thursday, Finland Today was invited to visit the Barrelsauna. Like the name suggests, the sauna is shaped liked a wooden barrel. Before entering, we are introduced to portable speakers, also shaped like a barrel.
“You can take these to the sauna. They withstand the heat and even survive accidental drops to the ground. They work with Bluetooth,” said Jerry Kurunen, a promoter of the speakers. We choose the largest: Ultimate Ears Megaboom in lava red color for aesthetic reasons. In the sauna, the steam,
We choose the largest: Ultimate Ears Megaboom in lava red color for aesthetic reasons. In the sauna, the steam, löyly, is provided by a sauna heater, kiuas, by Narvia. What is interesting is the metallic funnel standing amidst the rocks. We pour water into the funnel and quickly realize how it got its name. “Löylynsielu” meaning the “The Soul of Steam” spreads the water under the rocks, creating a smooth and moist sauna experience.
We turn on the speaker, and it connects to our smartphone. We choose a thumping but mellow drum ‘n’ bass track to test the sound quality. The sound is great. There are other speakers available as well, and we could link them wirelessly together to create a surround soundscape. We could see the use for these speakers in a cottage setting, where a group of friends would want to keep the vibe reaching the sauna by the lake, too.
On Thursday afternoon we observed the rainy but warm weather from the sauna porch. During the weekend, when the temperature is going to climb over 20 degrees Celsius, the festival will definitely be one of the highlights of the Finnish summer.
The Finnish Sauna Festival continues from Friday, June 9 to Sunday, June 11. The venue features various program during the weekend (Click here for the full program). On Friday, the gates open at 14:00, on Saturday at 13:30 and on Sunday at 13:00. The last performers on Friday (CMX) and Saturday (Anssi Kela) start playing at 22:00. On Sunday, the festival is wrapped up by Isac Elliot at 20:00. The following sauna festivals will be arranged in Turku (15.-18.6) and Jyväskylä (10-13.8).