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Helsinki Day offers various events across the city from concerts to karaoke. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Helsinki’s birthday will be celebrated today across the city with free-of-charge events that are open to all. Helsinki was founded by King Gustav Vasa at the mouth of the Vantaa river on June 12, 1550—468 years ago. In 1917, it became the capital of independent Finland.

We picked some of the highlights of the celebrations.

Espa Stage presents a special programme for kids

The Helsinki Day program offers lots of fun events and activities for kids throughout the city. The Espa Stage will present a special programme for kids in the afternoon from 13:00 to 20:00, including performances by Närpiäiset, Robin Rekku ja jekkuorkesteri, Klovni Rosalii, Sisidisko and Gommi ja Pommi. The event will be hosted by the Kids’ Own Radio DJs.

City Hall will host a children’s workshop in connection with Helsinki Design Week, where kids can create an enchanted forest. Families can also visit the Helsinki City Rescue Department and find all about about rescue operations, first aid, accident prevention, civil defence, and safety issues. The Fire Museum in Erottaja will also be open to the public, and visitors can also enjoy the views from the 42-meter tower.

Herttoniemi Manor will host a special Countryside in the City event, where kids can play with the farm animals and enjoy pony rides.

New events – from open air karaoke to garden parties

The Helsinki Day program includes for the first time this year karaoke. Singa Open Air Karaoke is a fun family singing event that takes place in front of the Helsinki Music Centre from 16:00 to 18:00 and continues in the courtyard of the Korjaamo Culture Factory from 18:00 to 22:00, where the host will be Ina Mikkola.

Another new event is the Jätkäsaari Block Party, where you can enjoy a carnival atmosphere. This participatory multi-art event for the whole family brings together local amateurs and professionals in the field of culture.

The Kulttuuritalo “House of Culture” will be celebrating its 60th birthday with free dances inside the Aalto Hall from 15:00 to 19:00. The music will be provided by 2013 Tango Queen Heidi Pakarinen and Karavaani.

Annala Villa, the oldest manor house in Helsinki, will also be taking part in the celebrations for the first time. At the Lilac Festival in the Secret Garden you can enjoy elderflower juice on the sunny terrace of the villa during the day and dancing accompanied by live music in the evening.

Perennial favourites invite you to enjoy great food and a hot sauna

One of the most popular traditional events during Helsinki Day is Dinner Under the Helsinki Sky, when long tables with white tablecloths are set up along the north side of the Esplanade Park. Up to a thousand people will be able to sit together and enjoy a great meal starting from 19:00. Places at the table can be reserved in advance online or from Virka Info inside City Hall.

The classic Kontula Shopping Centre Festival offers a fun programme for the whole family, including the chance to try circus tricks together with the Dance Theatre Hurjaruuth and live music all the way until 8pm.

The popular Yurt Sauna returns to the Töölönlahti bay, offering free saunas from 15:00 to 21:00 on June 10-12.

Enjoy a festival atmosphere at Radio Suomipop’s Helsinki Day concert

This year’s main Helsinki Day concert is being organised together with Radio Suomipop and Nelonen Media in Kaisaniemi Park. The programme includes top Finnish artists. The open-air concert is free of charge, and gates open at 15:00.

You can also enjoy the atmosphere at the Kustaankartano Festival with singalongs, music and a performance by the ever-young Finnish entertainer Danny. Younger visitors will be entertained by the children’s orchestra Päistikka, giant soap bubbles and a mini zoo.

At the Brygga Park Party in the Old Church Park you can enjoy a wide range of performances, borrow live books and try your hand at art from 13:00 to 18:00.

Responsibility is a key theme of Helsinki Day

On Helsinki Day, the nation’s capital is packed with free-of-charge public events that are organised together with local associations, businesses, clubs, organisations and active locals. The festivities are also brought to those who are unable to attend the events in the city. For example, Helsinki’s service centres offer activities and entertainment for local residents: Kustaankartano will host a festival, Roihuvuori will offer country dancing, and Laajasalo will have a mini zoo.

Event organisers were able to apply for a small grant from the City of Helsinki this spring to help support the production of their Helsinki Day events. This year 21 events were selected by a jury comprising local residents to receive funding.

Source: The City of Helsinki