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Turku wants Independence Day ball

Finland’s presidential palace is about to undergo renovations, forcing the relocation of the Independence Day reception for the next two years. Now former capital Turku is looking to host Finland’s premier event of the year.

Turun linna.
Turun linna. Image: YLE / Sami Tammi

It is not the first time the presidential palace has been unable to host the event. In 1972 the palace was undergoing renovations, and in 1981 the reception was organised after a concert as president Urho Kekkonen had resigned due to illness and his deputy Mauno Koivisto was campaigning for election. It was held at Finlandia Hall on both occasions.

Marble-clad Finlandia Hall is one candidate to take the reins in 2013, but it now faces a competitor from the south-west: Turku castle.

”The president could think that during the renovations the presidential ball could be held in a real castle,” said Turku councillor Seppo Lehtinen.

Former capital ready for president's party

Lehtinen pointed out that Turku castle has served as a venue for royal and presidential shindigs for centuries. The idea has attracted support among the city council and the people of Finland’s former capital.

”The ball would be appropriate here also because Turku is the former capital, and it is now 200 years since the capital moved to Helsinki,” said Lehtinen.

That decision was taken by Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

Two centuries later, Lehtinen says that Turku is well capable of putting on Finland’s most prestigious celebration.

”The preparations are not easy, but they will succeed so long as there is an early decision on the matter,” said Lehtinen. ”It’s a squeeze there, but of course it is also the president’s castle.”

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