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Free culture options abundant in Finland

Those on a tight budget can still enjoy cultural pursuits in Finland, with free festivals and affordable museum prices on offer. Yle’s audience also has a variety of tips for culture vultures looking to save some cash.

Gallerioissa näkee taidetta ilman sisäänpääsymaksuja. Kuvassa nykytaidetta esittelevä SIC-galleria Helsingin Kalasatamassa, jossa on parhaillaan esillä näyttely "Nothing Compares U 2".
Some galleries often open their doors for free admission on one afternoon a week. Image: SIC

Research from Finland’s Culture Fund shows that around half of Finns say that cultural activities are too expensive. The broad spectrum of cultural activities offers a variety of price points, but large concerts by international artists are among the most expensive events to attend.

Petri Parvinen of Aalto University attributes the higher cost to a decline in record sales.

"As the business model in the music industry has changed, many cultural consumers find that (concert tickets) are now out of their price range," said Parvinen.

One Yle reader, however, found that standing in the car park outside Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium allowed her to experience the atmosphere and listen to gigs without spending a penny.

Theatre tickets are another less affordable cultural purchase. As local authorities cut culture budgets, there is a risk ticket prices might rise. The tighter budgets could work the other way, however, as theatres try to sell tickets at a discount close to performances rather than leave empty seats in their auditoria.

Several Yle readers suggested ways to see popular shows without shelling out big money. Dress rehearsals are one option, while student performances are another very affordable possibility. Church concerts are usually free of charge, while one disgruntled reader from Jämsä said that the library was the best—and only—free cultural activity in his town.

The packed festival schedules offer a number of options too. Many festivals offer a variety of events, some free and some ticketed. Finland Festivals says that of around two million attendees at events under its auspices, only 750,000 paid for admission.

The Culture for All service has more information about accessible cultural offerings.

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