Kitee, the hometown of Nightwish, is a small town in the wilderness of Finland, but every summer it is visited by a group of enthusiastic Nightwish fans. Some of them take part in the Nightwish inspired art weeks and if they are lucky they might meet their idol Tuomas.
When Nightwish was born in the backwoods of North Karelia, one of the midwives was music teatcher Plamen Dimov. He had moved from Bulgaria to Kitee in the 1980s, and among his students were Tuomas, Emppu and Jukka. They played their first demo to Dimov in October 1996. He was excited and introduced band to the singer Tarja Turunen, another student of his. He also helped them to get started.
Watch Plamen Dimov's memory about the beginning of Nightwish!
Encouraged by Plamen Dimov's excitement, Nightwish started to take off. With the same excitement Dimov now organizes Kitee art weeks that honours the career of Nightwish. Started in 2013 as Nightwish Weeks, the event has changed into Kitee International Music and Art Festival this year. Despite the change of the name the fortnight festival still carries the band's approval.
The first Kitee art festival had 14 students, now the amount of the fans has grown to 60. The festival weeks conclude in an art exhibition and concerts, where international students perform Finnish music inspired by Nightwish.
In the summer 2015 when we tested the idea for the project To Nightwish, we got videos from Canadian Bailey Coty and Croatian Dean Kopri who were visiting Kitee. They told us about the meaning of Kitee and the Nightwish Weeks.
Watch the interview with Bailey and Dean!
In their addition, the music on video is performed by Teodora Petrova Freya, Veronique Meeuwsen and Kristina Minarik.
A journey to Kitee is an experience for fans. The small town is far from everything in the Eastern Finland. There they meet silence, nature and friendly townspeople. Many fans from Latin America, United States and Asia want to travel to Kitee to see the environments, where Tuomas writes his songs. Nearby lies Röskö campsite that has been rented by Nightwish for rehearsals and recordings of the past two albums. The small Kitee Museum houses a stable Nightwish exhibition with Tuomas's fan gifts and their first master tape, among other things.
The one thing that certainly draws the fan tourists to Kitee is the fact that the Nightwish maestro Tuomas Holopainen lives there with his wife, singer Johanna Kurkela. The lucky ones might have a change to meet their idol.
There were several Kitee visitors among the fan filmmakers of the documentary series To Nightwish with Love, too. They visited Kitee from Argentina, Brazil, the US, Russia, the Netherlands, Canada and Croatia.