Midsummer Festival, Seurasaari, Helsinki, Finland

Midsummer nostalgia in Helsinki’s Seurasaari

I’m going to be honest with you. I love Finland. I love Finns, Finnish nature, Finnish culture, and to some extend, Finnish food too. What I am not particularly fond of is Finnish Midsummer (Summer Solstice). The fact that someone purposedly travels to a mosquito-infested area, just to experience a “traditional midsummer” in the countryside, remains another inexplicable finnish mystery to me.  And it is not only the mosquitoes that put me off. The weather in June has this tendency of being on the cool side. And this year, the tendency is far too obvious.

I know that Midsummer is a very important celebration for Finns, almost as important as Christmas, but outdoor grilling while sleet is falling from the sky? Sorry. Not my idea of fun. And don’t get me wrong! I am always looking forward to visiting the family’s summer cottage, but only when the temperature reaches a comfortable 20 degrees and mosquito population reduces by 75%, which normally occurs by mid July. Before that, I’d rather stay in Helsinki, close to my central heating and comfy bed.

Thus, you can imagine my enthusiasm, when the family’s CEO, after some serious consultations with the head of the board of directors (wife and daughter, respectively), announced their decision that this year’s midsummer will be celebrated in Helsinki.

But how do you celebrate midsummer in Helsinki? The city’s Tourist Office suggests a visit to Seurasaari Open Air Museum (a mini version of Stockholm’s Skansen), where summer solstice is being celebrated for 60 years now. We didn’t have any reason to doubt them, so we waited until the downpour came to an end, put our winter jackets on (have I already mentioned how much I love Finnish summers, too? :-)) and off we went.

We had to leave the car quite far away from Seurasaari (note for future visits: take the bus, instead). While walking towards Seurasaari island, we were joined by lots of other people heading the same direction. They looked perfectly sane, which made us feel more at ease with our decision. We took a deep breath, crossed the bridge and entered Seurasaari, deliberately avoiding looking at the dark clouds above us.

The bridge that leads to Seurassari - End of the world clouds looming above us

The bridge that leads to Seurassari – End of the world clouds looming above us

At the entrance, we were met by folks in traditional Finnish costumes demonstrating their skills in chain knoting. I couldn’t help thinking what a huge hit they would be among Greenpeace activists.

Traditionally dressed men instructing the eager public how to chain  oneself

Traditionally dressed men instructing the eager public how to chain oneself

We eventually reached the main stage, where a children’s band called “Ammuu” was rocking it really hard, to the amusement of our little daughter and tens of other children.

Ammuu's lead singer considering stage diving

Ammuu’s lead singer considering stage diving

This year the organizer (Seurasaari Foundation) decided to include lots of activities for children to their midsummer eve program of festivities. There were swings and a playground for children (…and the young at heart), storytelling, puppet show, and horse carriage rides!

Horse carriage rides

Horse carriage rides

The children had their own midsummer bonfire!

Children's mini bonfire is lit!

Children’s mini bonfire is lit!

There were also folk dances and procession of flags.

Finnish folk dances

Finnish folk dances

Procession of flags

Procession of flags

And some nature-inspired hairdos.

Say goodbye to bad hair days!

Say goodbye to bad hair days!

Because I happen to be a romantic fool, I saved the best for last. Every year on midsummer eve, a couple is getting married in the old church of Seurasaari. Their wedding waltz is part of the island’s midsummer festivities. This year the bride was from Finland and the groom from Australia. A happy ending to a midsummer, that exceeded all our expectations.

Midsummer love

Midsummer love

Midsummer love and the video to prove it:

For info on Midsummer in Helsinki’s Seurasaari, click here.

And for a different approach on Midsummer by Finnish blogger Miia, click here.

Do you have similar kind of celebrations on the occasion of summer solstice in your country? 

26 thoughts on “Midsummer nostalgia in Helsinki’s Seurasaari

  1. Vasilis it sounds like Finland and Canada share the same issue with mosquitoes. Your photos of the celebration make me feel as though I have traveled there with your family. I want that shrubbery hat for sure!
    I don’t think Canada celebrates summer solstice however the country’s birthday is July 1st and that is a nationwide holiday with many activities.

  2. Haha 🙂 I don’t know if you purposefully wanted to be funny, but this post saved my day that has been really bad until now. I laughed so much 🙂 THANK YOU!!

    For example, “I love xxxx…to some extend, Finnish food too”: what, are you telling me you don’t eat mämmi, kalakukko, läskisoosi, maksalaatikko, silli-perunat and kesäkeitto every day 🙂 ?

    And who is the family CEO?

    But I totally understand, those weather conditions have the power to destroy everything. I do not miss that weather (I had enough in May!). Hoping it turns warmer soon…

    PS Thanks for linking to my post 🙂

    • Thanks, Miia! It makes me really happy to know that my post cheered you up a bit!
      Of course I don’t eat all these Finnish stuff everyday, just every second day! 🙂
      The family’s CEO is the wife, and the head of the board of directors is my daughter. I am the summer trainee. 🙂

      • Summer trainee, hahaa. So, for winter you escape to Greece? But hey, Finnish winter has since this become warmer than midsummer, so no more need to escape … 😉

        It is so interesting to read about Finland thru someone who is not a native Finn.

  3. PPS I just realized that (above) makes a lot of 🙂 !! Oh well! I usually try to avoid them but it just shows how much I enjoyed your post.

  4. I’ve been to seurasaari ever since I was a child but never at midsummer. Sounds like a good option really. But how did the weather gods get so mean that they year after year send rain, sleet hail and mossies for midsummer?!!

  5. Seurasaari looks quite inviting except for those ominous dark clouds. I’m sorry my internet here in South Africa is far too slow tonight, for me to view the video. 🙁 I love the national costumes, and the leafy wig would be really useful on bad hair days. 🙂

  6. Sue

    I came to visit your blog via Sue at Travel Tales. I am from Wisconsin in the US and we are deep in mosquito season here too, but we are a bit warmer in June than you are. I had to look up Finnish weather when I read your comment about sleet in June. Yuck! We get enough of that November thru April. I think I would rather swat mosquitoes.

    Your comments on the band cracked me up too. I totally visualized the lead cow diving into the audience. Haha!

    • That sleet thing in June was shocking, to say the least. Had 70% of the Finnish population running to reserve travel packages for southern Europe. It’s much better now, though. Sunny, 28 degrees, and not a single soul around. They are all in Greece! 🙂

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Sue! Luckily the lead cow did not dive. It would have been a traumatic experience for kids and adults alike. 🙂

  7. You’ve got me! I couldn’t resist visiting this madman who forsakes glorious Greece for Finland, and speaks Estonian. Added to that our skies are currently the same colour as that entrancing shot of you crossing the bridge, and thunder is rumbling. No wait- I think our skies are darker! 🙂 Good time for visiting, you see.
    I love the look of your blog and your gentle humour so I’m off to find more. (in case you hadn’t guessed, Sue sent me) 🙂

  8. maiu

    I loved midsummer day celebrations when I lived in Estonia and now when I live in Toronto I miss it so much, despite the mosquitos and the rain every! year on that day 🙂

      • maiu

        I think our midsummer celebration with Finland is pretty much the same! Big party 🙂

        Yes we love to sing and dance! I just came back from Estonia, visited the Song and Dance Celebration. Amazing!

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