Last weekend Helsinki, the capital of Finland, turned into a huge festival for one day. This festival is called Helsinki Day (Helsinki-päivä), an annual celebration held on 12 June to celebrate the birthday of the city of Helsinki. The tradition was started in the late 1950s and ever since the festival has grown and become more popular year after year.During Helsinki Day the city centre is packed with a wide variety of free events, outdoor concerts, guided tours, exhibitions, open houses, art and music performances, activities etc. organised by local companies, organisations, associations and residents. There is plenty to see and do and in every street corner and all citizens and visitors alike are on the move enjoying the day.
The festival day also includes formal events such as awarding noteworthy citizens with a Helsinki Medal by the city council. Traditionally the “Man of the city” (Stadin Kundi) and “Woman of the city” (Stadin Friidu) are selected.We started our Helsinki Day by enjoying live music and entertainment at Esplanade Park in the city centre. Here we caught a glimpse of a giant soap bubble show. Esplanade Park is a classic place to hang out on a beautiful summer day, just chill out and watch people pass by. It was great to see how even trees were all dressed in red festival costumes, too.I had never visited Helsinki City Hall before so on this special occasion we took the opportunity to visit the mayor’s office and the city hall balcony to take a look at the city from a completely new perspective.The highlight of the day by far was a visit to Erottaja Rescue Station and Fire Museum situated in a historical red brick building completed in 1891 and originally functioned as Helsinki’s main fire station. It was extremely interesting to see the red huge fire engines in full equipment. We also got to climb the fire station tower. It was quite a climb, over 200 steps. I was not far from having a panic attack on the way up as I am totally afraid of heights. However, the beautiful views from the top over the rooftops of Helsinki were more than rewarding.Next we headed to Töölönlahti Bay just outside the city centre and visited 3 old wooden villas in the charming and leafy villa district of Linnunlaulu. Back in time this area flourished with a thriving villa community, but only parts of it remain today.At Villa Kivi, also a Writer’s House with studios and work spaces, we saw a photography exhibition and explored the cute little violet children’s playhouse next door.The home gallery of an artist couple at Blue Villa was open to public for the day and we got to visit some of the beautiful historical interiors of the villa.Villa Eläintarha with a Bourgeois home exhibition dating back to the turn of the 19th and the 20th century was the most interesting of the villas. Three furnished rooms downstairs provided a glimpse of the atmosphere and life in the house more than a century ago. Today this villa also functions as a temporary residence for foreign artists.In the garden of Villa Eläintarha we had a chance to eat like a bee. This was a food tasting event by an environmental artist. We tasted different types of honey from Finland and Portugal and also some sugar syrups that bees are fed with in the autumn and spring. What a sweet Sunday treat!
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