Helsinki is a very busy city during the summer months when it comes to interesting events. The following three free outdoor events are absolutely loved by locals as they turn Helsinki, the capital of Finland, into a large outdoor playground and bring friends, family and community together to enjoy the best of the summer in the city.
1. Restaurant Day
Restaurant Day is more than a food festival as anyone can open a pop up restaurant, coffee shop, bakery or a bar for a day and share their best culinary creations with the public. This means that on Restaurant Day (Ravintolapäivä) you can find pop up restaurants just anywhere you can imagine. Popular places include parks, streets, beaches, courtyards, private gardens, homes and offices.
Held four times a year, approximately once every three months, Restaurant Day represents urban culture at its best. The food carnival is all about sharing culinary experiences, having fun and doing things together in the community. The festival has become extremely popular in Helsinki, attracting people of all ages excited to serve their culinary creations, from coffee and cakes to trendy and traditional Finnish foods as well as international and ethnic flavours. Prices vary greatly from 4 € up to 25 € for a hot meal. In Helsinki, the birthplace of the festival, the most popular places to celebrate the food festival are the Esplanade Park and the Old Church Park (in Finnish Vanha kirkkopuisto or Ruttopuisto) in the city centre and Bear Park in the bohemian district of Kallio.
The original idea of the Restaurant Day belongs three Finnish men who felt frustration over the bureaucracy regarding running a restaurant. As a result the very first Restaurant Day was held in 13 locations around Finland in 2011. Since then the award-winning event has grown dramatically and today it is the world’s biggest food festival celebrated in hundreds of cities worldwide.
2. Cleaning Day
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. On Cleaning Day (Siivouspäivä) Helsinki city centre and neighbourhoods turn into a giant flea market. This is a fantastic event for all flea market lovers and recycling enthusiasts as just anyone can set up a table or a blanket and offer their second-hand items up for sale in the parks, streets and courtyards. The idea is to make recycling easy and create vibrant and responsible urban culture.
The most popular places to walk around and do second-hand shopping in Helsinki city centre on Cleaning Day include the Esplanade Park and the Old Church Park (in Finnish Vanha kirkkopuisto or Ruttopuisto) and you can find amazing treasures just anywhere. All kinds of second-hand and vintage items e.g. clothes, furniture, tools, toys, sports gear, books and comic books are for sale.
3. Dinner Under the Helsinki Sky
This event, Dinner Under the Helsinki Sky (Illallinen Helsingin taivaan alla), turns Helsinki into a large feast, as people get together for a picnic dinner in the urban outdoors. On the evening of Helsinki Day in June one of the main city centre streets, the Esplanade, is closed for traffic and set up with a long table decorated with white tablecloths. People bring their own dinner, drinks, forks and knives and enjoy a relaxing evening with friends. This event is free of charge, however, seats must be booked well in advance.
Several other dinners under the Helsinki sky are organised during the summer months and do not require pre-bookings. You can place your dinner table or picnic blanket just anywhere. Parks, squares, beaches and walkways by the sea are popular places.
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