A guide to Finnish summer festivals 2021
Despite the extraordinary year, Finland will once again have a rich and dense summer festival season! It's time to draw out your calendars and take a look at this year’s festival assortment. For this guide, we picked 30 interesting Finnish summer festivals that are open for a live audience.
Organ Night & Aria Festival June 3–August 28
Organ Night & Aria Festival (Urkuyö) is a series of 13 concerts spread throughout the summer, offering a variety of classical music on Thursday evenings in the medieval stone church in the municipality of Espoo, just outside of Helsinki. The historic milieu along the Espoonjoki River and the late summer evenings create an unique atmosphere for high-quality concerts featuring Finland's leading artists. The artistic director of the festival in 2021 is pianist and conductor Erkki Korhonen. With a strong focus on organ music, the themes of these concerts range from Bach's 17th century concertos to Russian 19th century romanticism to Astor Piazzolla's 20th century tangos, culminating to the performance of Fidelio Opera at the Espoo Cultural Center.
Sommelo 26 June–1 July
Even in the global landscape of festivals, Sommelo, held on both sides of the Finnish-Russian border, in the historical landscape of Kainuu and Viena Karelia, is truly a unique one. This year, with a slightly downsized program, Sommelo offers a nice selection of Finnish folk music, ranging from Zäpämmät to Johanna Juhola and workshops with topics from runosong to kantele and back.
XXXVI Summer Sounds 30 June–4 July
The theme for Avanti! Summer Sounds XXXVI is City of Music, during which the music will enter the streets and cafés of Porvoo. The make sure promise to keep an eagle eye on the latest official Covid regulations to ensure the safety of players and audience alike, with only a very limited number of tickets and also a promise to stream some of the concerts. The Artistic Director of this year’s festival is Austrian composer, singer and conductor Heinz Karl ‘Nali’ Gruber, with a theme – “Freche Musik – Sassy Music” – admirably in keeping with his style: music that is brazen or impudent. One of the festival’s leading themes is postmodern music by Gruber and his Viennese contemporaries seasoned with some new Finnish works and a broad selection of chamber music. Conducting the festival concerts will be Gruber, John Storgårds and Håkan Hardenberger.
Haapavesi Folk Music Festival 1–3 July
Haapavesi Folk Music Festival’s programme is once again filled with folk and world music along with music for children, jazz, rock and classical music. Artistic director for the event is Teija Niku. This year’s line-up will be 100 per cent domestic (as all Swedish acts that were booked had to cancel their performances), with artists like Dantchev:Domain, Ilkka Heinonen, Tsuumi Sound System, Ma Rouf, Pauanne and PK Keränen (22-Pistepirkko) with prominent folk accordionist Leija Lautamaja, among many others. The concerts will be also streamed this year.
Time of Music 6–11 July
Time of Music (Musiikin aika) Festival is organized in the beginning of July every year in Viitasaari, Central Finland. Time of Music focuses on cutting-edge contemporary music, and hosts the most important composers and artists of the field yearly, gaining an international reputation as a courageous, border-breaking and innovative event. In 2021 the theme of the festival is “Timeshifts – Memorials for the future” and the Artistic Director is Johan Tallgren. The program will include traditional concerts, hybrid events, and a 20-minute ritualistic installation that can only be accessed by two people at a time. There will be an extraordinary amount of Finnish ensembles and artists, including Uusinta Ensemble, Tristero Trio, Kaaos ensemble and Petri Kumela, as well as several domestic premieres by composers like Mioko Yokoyama, Kimmo Kuokkala, Minna Leinonen and Lauri Supponen. Due to possible corona-restrictions, the number of tickets has been limited.
Archipelago Sea Jazz 9 July – 8 August
Archipelago Sea Jazz is a new four-festival series held in the intimate atmosphere of the Baltic Sea archipelago. Including Baltic Jazz, Korpo Sea Jazz, Turku Sea Jazz and Åland Sea jazz the festival offers a wide selection of jazz from Finnish top artists such as Jukka Perko, Verneri Pohjola quartet and Dalindeo as well as international names such as Hot Sugar Band and Stockholm Stompers.
Kaustinen Folk Music Festival 8–14 July
Established in 1968, Kaustinen Folk Music Festival is the largest folk music festival in the Nordic countries. Among the hundreds of acts that perform during the festival week in Kaustinen are Anne-Mari Kivimäki & Palomylly, Maria Kalaniemi & Eero Grundström, Piirainen | Blom | Company and many others.
Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival 11–24 July
In less than 50 years, Kuhmo Chamber Music has grown to become one of the world's foremost classical music festivals. For a fortnight chamber music takes over the streets of Kuhmo, as over a hundred musicians perform at dozens of concerts. Over 80 musicians appear at the festival, including names such as pianists Nino Gvetadze and Konstantin Bogino, among more than twenty violinists are Sergey Malov andDaniel Rowland, cellists include Senja Rummukainen and Trey Lee. There are five chamber ensembles, including the Kuhmo Quartet Academy and the audience's great favorites, the Danel Quartet and the Storioni Trio. This year’s theme is “Beethoven eruption” – which means that over the course of two weeks, Beethoven’s key major chamber music works from violin sonatas to the great septet as well as his symphonies will be heard.
Sastamala Gregoriana 15-18 July
Sastamala Gregoriana offers music from mediaeval, renaissance and baroque periods interpreted by leading musicians. Held in the beautiful medieval surroundings of Sastamala, including the famous St. Mary’s church, the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. This year’s program allows participants to travel from medieval themes all the way to the current pandemic situation by providing a distinctive set of concerts. Sastamala Gregoriana’s original theme “Enchanting Bruges” has been postponed to 2022.
Pori Jazz 15–17 July
Finland’s oldest jazz festival is known for a lineup that usually goes way beyond jazz. But this year Pori Jazz will not be the huge mainstream-leaning family happening that it most years is, but a series of concerts focusing on domestic jazz stars such as Timo Lassy, Verneri Pohjola, Quintessence, Riitta Paakki, Reiska Laine and many others.
Ilmiö 15–19 July
In mid-July, Fans of the indie and underground music scene gather to Ilmiö, a festival held in an intimate environment at an old dance pavillion by the sea. Its multi-disciplinary programme consists of acts such as Faarao Pirttikangas, M, Handshaking, Cyril Awakens and Jimi Tenor.
Bättre Folk 16-17 July
Bättre Folk, held in the beautiful surroundings of Hailuoto island, has the reputation of an iconic “hipster” festival. In the past years it has grown to be a popular, yet distinctive event with a lineup featuring some of the Finnish top acts. This year the festival will host big domestic names such as Jesse Markin, Chisu, Ruusut and Uusi Fantasia. Besides music, Bättre Folk also offers new literature, sauna culture and community art for the audience to enjoy.
Odysseus 24-25 July
The atmospheric island of Lonna will be filled by jazz music on July 24-25, when the first Odysseus Festival will take over the area. The summer festival is essentially an expansion of the popular We Jazz events on the island – a weekend-long, musically diverse event. The Odysseus organizers are the same people as the team behind the yearly We Jazz Festival – and in the same spirit this event will be presenting new, interesting performance spaces. The program of the event contains the crème de la crème of Finnish jazz: Dalindèo, Eero Koivistoinen Quartet (playing 1969’s "Odysseus" – the festival’s ‘godfather album’), Verneri Pohjola Quartet, 3TM, Timo Lassy, Superposition and plus much more, with international guests Y-OTIS (SE/DE/UK), Lucia Cadotsch Speak Low (CH/SE), Mario Rom's Interzone (AU) and Kit Downes (UK).
Our Festival 25–31 July
Our Festival (in Finnish: Meidän Festivaali) is renowned for its fresh approach to the arts and its crossover events. With its artistic director group, the string quartet Kamus, the event seeks new perspectives on musical encounters and concert practices, with a view to giving the audience an experience that is simply not available elsewhere. The next Our Festival takes place from 25 July to 31 August 2021 at various locations in the landscapes of Lake Tuusula only half an hour’s drive north from Finland’s capital, Helsinki. The theme for this year is change, and the wide lineup features musicians such as Glenn Kotche, Lauri Porra, Olavi Louhivuori, Lilli Maijala and Olivier Thiery, with compositions by the likes of Lauri Supponen & Riikka Talvitie, Tytti Arola, Clara Schumann, Cecilia Damström, along with more familiar works by Mozart, Sibelius, Debussy and the like.
Kuopiorock 29-31 July
Sometimes called the sunniest festival in Finland, Kuopiorock brings a great offering of rock and pop music to the Northern Savonia. This year, on the festival’s18th birthday, you can find some of the biggest names in female fronted metal music: Nightwish, Battle Beast, Within Temptation (NL) and Amaranthe (SWE). The program also includes a long list of favorites such as metal bands Blind Channel, Amorphis, Lost Society, Stam1na, Waltari, Sonata Arctica and Beast in Black, as well as other domestic favorites like Andy McCoy,Antti Tuisku, Haloo Helsinki! and Klamydia.
Raahe Jazz on the Beach Festival 29–31 July
Raahe Jazz on the Beach Festival, with over three decades of history, is an intimate and modern outdoor jazz festival in the idyllic, old wooden seaside town Raahe in Northern Finland. This summer’s line-up includes Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen, Joose Keskitalo, Elifantree and much more!
Qstock 30-31 July
As Finnish major festivals such as Ruisrock, Provinssi, Tuska and Flow have all been postponed to 2022, the traditional and long-running Qstock is quite a rare opportunity this summer. The two-day festival gathers a lineup with the Finland’s biggest artists such as pop phenomenon Alma, the award-winning pop singer-songwriter Behm, Jesse Markin and Eurovision success Blind Channel, along with metal exports Apocalyptica, Amorphis, Battle Beast, Nightwish, Oranssi Pazuzu and others. International names include britpop legends Suede (UK), glam rockers Darkness (UK) and pop folk band Smith & Thell (SWE).
BRQ Vantaa Festival 7–15 August
The old parish church of St Lawrence’s historical environment is at the heart of the unique BRQ Vantaa Festival, which showcases baroque music and period instruments while also including musical works from other eras. Leading artists include Petri Kumela, Cecilia Bernardini, Il Gardellino Chamber Ensemble and many more. The three pillars of the programme are Bach, Couperin and Vivaldi, but interspersed with many rarities including performances from Phantasm Ensemble and Amor Céu as well as baroque music played on a Finnish kantele.
Turku Music Festival 8–22 August
With Conductor Klaus Mäkelä programming, Turku Music Festival’s this year’s program is somewhat diminished from its usual plentiness. So far, only a handful of concerts have been revealed, including ones by domestic crossover opera star Waltteri Torikka and pop star Olavi Uusivirta, as well as “Dichterliebe & Eight Songs for a Mad King”.
Rauma Festivo 3-8 August
Rauma Festivo is a five-day chamber music festival that takes place in the unique surroundings of Old Rauma, the largest wooden town centre in the Nordic countries. This year the program is built around the theme the eight pleasures of life and the seven deadly sins including various concerts where music and other art forms are combined in unique experiences. The lineup includes renowned Finnish musicians such as guitarist Jarmo Saari and soprano Tuuli Takala.
Weekend Festival 5-7 August
Finland’s most widely known EDM festival Weekend festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer. So far Weekend has only announced a handful of acts: the world known German dj Boris Brechja and Finnish acts Orkidea and Orion. But keep checking up Weekend's website and scoial media – the lineup will surely be completed during the summer. This year the festival will be held in Käpylä Sports park.
Smugglerrok 6-7 August
Focusing more on rock than actual smuggling, the funnily named event in Lieto, a province just outside the city of Turku caters a selection of Finnish rock from the harder and heavier side of things. Lineup includes Apocalyptica, Stam1na, Andy McCoy, Blind Channel, Amorphis, Beast in Black and more!
Saarihelvetti 6-7 August
Experience the heaviest and darkest metal music imaginable whilst being surrounded by the beautiful lake Pyhäjärvi. This is offered by the metal festival Saarihelvetti (which translates to “island hell”) held on the Viikinsaari island in Tampere. This year the festival features a great lineup with the biggest names of the Finnish metal scene such as Insomnium and Mokoma as well as international acts like Unleash the Archers (CAN) and The Agonist (CAN).
Kesärauha 6–8 August
Turku’s legendary festival institution Ruisrock will have an off-year in 2021, so this summer, the city of Turku will be occupied by a new indie and alternative event. The lineup at the three-day festival Kesärauha (“summer peace”) features a total of over 50 acts, from local ones like Alma, Magenta Skycode, 22-Pistepirkko, Bobby Oroza, Jesse Markin, Sin Cos Tan, The Hearing, Joensuu 1685, Lxandra to international artists like Supergrass (UK), Mew (DK), Viagra Boys (SE), Atomic Swing (SE), Honningbarna(NO) and countless more!
Oulunsalo soi 11–15 August
Oulunsalo Soi Festival hosts a variety of concerts in Oulu and its surroundings, with a strong focus on Baroque music. The festival's new artistic director is violinist Kreeta-Maria Kentala. This year’s line-up includes artists, musicians such as Piia Komsi, Sanna Smolander, Pohjan laulu and Jouko Kyhälä, as well as Kentala herself.
North of Hell 13–14 August
Continuing the tradition of purgatory themed Finnish metal festivals, North of Hell is the latest contender! Located in Oulu, the two-day event’s lineup contains classic metal such as Napalm Death (UK),Hypocrisy (SWE), Municipal Waste (US) and Vader (POL) as well as more contemporary names like Unearth (US), Zeal & Ardor (CH) and local stars including One Morning Left, Rotten Sound and Wolfheart.
Blockfest 16-17 August
* UPDATE: Blockfest 2021 has been cancelled *
Blockfest is the biggest hip hop festival in the whole Nordic area, which has since 2008 gathered countless international rap royalties and local favorites to the city of Tampere. This year Blockfest will bring on stage a lineup of international artists like Burna Boy (NG), Future (US), Denzel Curry (US), Polo G (US) and Danileigh (US) along with the domestic acts like Kube and Eevil Stöö.
Festivaali 27-28 August
* UPDATE: Festivaali 2021 has been cancelled *
A completely new music festival Festivaali celebrates the mainstream and indie music from Finland. Festivaali will be held in the beautiful lake scenery of Pyynikki in the city of Tampere and it brings on stage some of the most interesting names in the Finnish indie music scene like the garage rock band Ursus Factory, the electropop band Ruusut as well as Litku Klemetti, Maustetytöt, Olavi Uusivirta and many more.
Ijahis Idja 14 August
Ijahis idja is the most important gathering and meeting point for the Sámi people in Finland. The festival presents a range of Sámi arts, of sports competitions and handcrafts market and other side events. This year’s musical treats include a meeting of two rap greats, Amoc x Ailu as well as Jon Henrik Fjällgren.
Helsinki Festival 15 August–1 September
* Update: Helsinki Festival's performances have been canceled starting on August 20. as new audience restrictions take effect, but some of the events will be carried out with special arrangements.
Helsinki Festival is the largest arts festival in Finland, with a program consisting of concerts and happenings from classical and contemporary music to indie rock, hip hop, jazz and world music. This year the schedule contains, for example, the stage ensemble version of Kaija Saariaho’s oratorio La Passion de Simone, Philip Glass’ Heroes Symphony (based on David Bowie’s “Heroes” and conducted by André de Ridder) by Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Game Music Collective’s concert (pretty much what the name promises!), Brian Eno’s installation 77 Million Paintings – as well as a concert by his brother Roger Eno. On the bill there are also pop and rock acts like Jesse Markin, 22-Pistepirkko, Oranssi Pazuzu, Suad, The Hearing’s Ringa Manner and Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen with UMO Jazz Orchestra plus Karina with a string orchestra. From the international side you have hip crossover acts like Songhoy Blues, Sons of Kemet and a showcase night celebrating the 20th birthday of legendary record label Erased Tapes with i.e. Penguin Café and Anne Müller. Not to forget dance, theater, film, visual arts and children’s culture.
Kyröfest 21 August
Kyröfest, held at Kyrö rye distillery in Isokyrö, is promised to be "a unique village fiesta that brings people together". Containing some of the most interesting Finnish indie names of today, the line-up is indeed promising: Joensuu 1685, Iisa, KO:MI, Kynnet, Litku Klemetti and more. The municipality of Isokyrö is located in the South Ostrobothnia region, 43 kilometres from the nearest city, Vaasa, and 400 kilometres from Helsinki.