This year for the first time ever, Finland’s traditional Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony will not be held in Helsinki but in Hämeenlinna.
The Association of Finnish Culture and Identity (AFCI) has decided to move the 6 December festivities that are traditionally hosted at Observatory Hill Park (Tähtitorninmäki) to the Hämeenlinna National Urban Park in the wake of the worsening coronavirus situation in the capital region.
"It is possible to organise the flag-hoisting in Hämeenlinna while using face masks and observing proper safety distances. Government regulations will be strictly followed. If necessary, this event will be held without an on-site audience," Antti Ahonen, a member of the AFCI board said in a press release.
According to Ahonen, the city of Hämeenlinna is a historical cultural centre, Finland’s oldest inland city, the world's Sibelius capital and home to the Häme Castle, making it an ideal venue for the traditional event.
Finland has also cancelled the annual Independence Day ball held at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki due to coronavirus restrictions.
This year, the national Independence Day flag-hoisting will be held for the 64th consecutive time. The event was first held in 1927, but the war years broke the tradition.
The Association of Finnish Culture and Identity revived the practice in 1957. Since then, the flag-hoisting ceremony was always held in Helsinki.
Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) will give the traditional Independence Day flag speech.
The 103rd Independence Day celebrations, which start at 9 am on Sunday 6 December, will be broadcast live on Yle Radio Finland and Yle Areena.