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Finland rings in 2013 with public concerts, fireworks -- and violence

Finland celebrated the New Year in traditional fashion with a New Year’s Eve spectacle in Helsinki’s Senate Square Monday night. Police estimate that thousands gathered for the open air extravaganza. The newly-enlarged city of Oulu also rang in 2013 in style.

Senaatintorin vuoden vaihteen ilotulitusta 31. joulukuuta 2011.
New Year fireworks in Helsinki's Senate Square. Image: Sari Gustafsson / Lehtikuva

Police in the capital Helsinki estimate that some 10,000 onlookers thronged Senate Square for a live concert followed by a traditional fireworks display after the countdown to the New Year.

Officials say that the celebrations may initially have been more peaceful than usual, but that police were called upon more often after midnight, in particular for domestic disturbances. Police in Vantaa speculated that the dreary weather conditions may have helped put a damper on the festivities.

Amidst the revelry, police were called out to deal with vandalism and intoxication. Additionally rescue service officials attended to fires across the country. Fireworks were also responsible for a number of eye and hand injuries.

Shooting in Puistola, Helsinki

According to Helsinki police several gunshots were discharged in the Puistola district, but no one was reported injured.

The sequence of events is still unclear, although police have held three individuals in connection with the incident.

Police say the incident arose following a confrontation between two groups, however there did not seem to be any connection to organised crime.

Public disturbances, drunkenness and fires tax officials

Further north in Oulu, another 10,000 people filled the Raksila stadium for a public New Year’s Eve event.

Police report that in south west Finland the festivities were somewhat more lively than a regular weekend, while in the Tampere region, celebrations proceeded normally apart from calls arising from road accidents and fireworks-related vandalism.

In Kainuu meanwhile, barring a few scuffles, no major incidents were reported to law enforcement officials. And in spite of spirited carousing in eastern Finland, no major incidents were reported.

Activity in the Ostrobothnia region began to pick up towards midnight, enlisting the services of the authorities as they dealt with alcohol-related brawls and vandalism.

Police were similarly engaged in central Finland responding to cases involving inebriated individuals and public disturbances.

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