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Helsinki Pride: Police say 100,000 to march for sexual minorities

Police officials said they expected a similar turnout to last year's and advised motorists to avoid the city centre.

Prime Minister Antti Rinne and his wife Heta Ravolainen-Rinne (left) at Helsinki's Pride March on Saturday. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The week-long Helsinki Pride celebrations culminated Saturday in a massive procession that began with participants gathering at the city's central Senate Square at 11.00am.

From there, the procession, which included Finnish premier Antti Rinne, was due to proceed through the city centre to Kaivopuisto, for a concert in the park. Rinne was expected to deliver a speech once the procession arrived at the venue.

"It's important to say that we still have a lot to do in Finnish society," the PM said to Yle.

"The core message is that Finland should be entirely free of discrimination of all kinds," Helsinki Pride executive director Aaro Horsman said as the procession made its way along the route.

Police said on Saturday that they expected the number of participants to round out at 100,000, much like last year. Police called on motorists to seek alternative routes through the city on Saturday.

"People can expect major traffic disruptions at Senate Square and the Esplanade," Helsinki police commissioner Pasi Turunen told Yle.

Story continues after photo.

At Helsinki's Senate Square. Image: Minna Rinta-Tassi / Yle

Meanwhile police tweeted an advisory calling on vehicles to avoid the downtown area throughout the afternoon as traffic would be re-routed to accommodate the day’s events.

"Traffic has been suspended on Unionkatu from the Liisanympyrä roundabout in the direction of the cathedral on Aleksanterinkatu until 4.00pm and on the Esplanade and Kasarmikatu until 5.00pm," the department said.

Officers also said that they expected tens of thousands of participants at the Kaivopuisto revelry, which was scheduled to end at 6.00pm. However they noted that police would be on hand in the city to ensure a safe event for all.

Other cities are also expected to host their own pride events later in the year. They include the Loviisa Pride and Lohja Pride festivals in southeast and southwest Finland respectively, both billed for July.

Edit: Updated at 1.05pm with comments from PM Antti Rinne and Helsinki Pride executive director Aaro Horsman.