Sunday, June 24, 2012

Midsummer celebration at Seurasaari Island in Finland

Midsummer's eve is the longest day of the year and one of the most festive Holidays in Finland.  This was going to be my first Midsummer experience in Finland, so I invited some good friends from the United States (currently living in Germany) to take part in the festivities.

Fortunately, it was a gorgeous, sunny day with endless blue skies.  The Finnish weather has been moody these last few weeks and this day was just what the doctor ordered.  We left Espoo around 6pm to head over to Seurasaari Island in Helsinki.  Seurasaari is one of the larger Islands in the Helsinki metro area and the island itself has been converted into some kind of open air museum.  Upon arrival via bus from Espoo, we purchased our tickets, then ventured across the bridge entrance while fighting the growing crowd of Midsummer revelers.    The path from the entrance to the main area was littered with cultural tidbits, arts and crafts.  For example, at one stop you could cut wood with an old saw and at another stop you could walk on wooden stilts or play tug of war.  Many folks were dressed in traditional Finnish gowns while they performed traditional dances on one of the small stages.

Midsummer is perhaps the most special Holiday in Finland, because it kicks off the Summer Holiday season and it is a time of relaxation, parties and reflection.  Not having partaken in any previous Midsummer activities, we all decided that Seurasaari, although touristy might be a good place to experience our first Midsummer.  The main attraction of the celebration is the lighting of the bonfires.  Not having anything to compare the experience with, I was kind of expecting some mammoth "Burning Man" style bonfire.  However, in reality there were about 5 smaller bonfires waiting to be torched.  Each one of these bonfires varied in style and design.  They had one "Estonian" style, one "Ingrian" style and a few other varieties of bonfires.  Although they were impressive and neat to watch light up, the burning of these didn't evoke feelings of mass euphoria.  I was however caught up in a Zen like moment with friends and family sipping on a few cold ones on a rock overlooking the Bay while the fires were burning.  It was a perfect evening to kick off the start of the summer season and to reflect on life.

We actually left Seurasaari just past 10pm which is quite early for Midsummer events, but with tired children and a 30 minutes bus ride ahead of us, it was probably the right call.  All in all, Midsummer in Seurasaari was a pleasant, though commercial experience.


  1. Unfortunately, Finns only managed to catch the fire action of this deep and ancient pagan Midsummer custom, that is why they have the slightest idea of its meaning and can't deliver its spirit. You'll feel it better in the countries with older history and culture.

  2. Dear Markcat ,

    This is Man Ting and and I’m writing on behalf of cacao, a Taiwan-based independent magazine publishing topics about creativity, art, communication, alchemy and opinion.

    I am wondering if you may be interested in featuring your article in our next issue:Helsinki-city outlook. The concept of this section is to show our readers a different view of Helsinki, and instead of a local, we would like to see Tokyo from a foreigner who lives or works in this city (which is pretty much like what you have been writing on your blog).

    If you are willing to do this, could you please write a mail for me and I can attach before issue for your refrence?

    And about the article would you please write a short article less than 300 words and provide me some high resolution photos?

    cacao editor email:
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    I'm looking forward to hearing from you

    Best Regards,
    Man Ting