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Helsinki wakes up to first summer super-weekend

Summery weather arrived on cue for Helsinki’s first summer weekend of open-air entertainment and cultural events. Starting Saturday, city dwellers and visitors can enjoy everything from horse shows to races, food fairs and church choirs.

Roihuvuoren kirsikkapuisto.
An important spring/summer marker in Finland is the Hanami Festival, which originated in Japan and is celebrated in mid-May at Cherry Tree Park in the city’s Roihuvuori district. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

The weather forecast is promising summery weather this weekend, a boon for event organisers and members of the public. In the capital Helsinki, streets and parks will fill up as patrons attend a series of events that promise entertainment as well as headaches for motorists and commuters. Police will also be on the alert.

"Warm weather will get people on the move and as we have more people coming in, that will mean more calls for police. General disorderly behaviour, assaults and petty theft will increase," said chief inspector Jere Roimu of the Helsinki police department.

Horses canter into Kaivopuisto

Saturday will welcome hundreds of pop-up restaurants around the city for the grass roots gastronomical celebration known as Restaurant Day. It will offer foodies the ideal opportunity to browse the city in search of edibles both familiar and exotic.

Meanwhile On Saturday and Sunday Kaivopuisto will transform into a competitive arena for equestrian events. The weekend shows are expected to attract more than 100 horses and some 30,000 spectators overall.

Organisers will bring in 900 tons of sand, 3,000 square metres of tent capacity and three kilometres of fencing for the occasion. The preparations will cause disruptions in the surroundings in the form of traffic detours and temporary no-parking zones. It means that the parking lots of summer hotspots like Café Ursula and Kaivohuone will be closed to the public and Iso Puistotie will be a no-go for motorists. Work to dismantle structures for the horse show is expected to continue until next Tuesday.

Street festivals and choirs

On Saturday, the tenth annual art festival known as Arabia street festival will bring food stalls, flea markets and thousands of participants to the streets in the Hämeentie area. The event will close the streets to vehicular traffic between Arabiankatu and Kaironkatu.

Talon päätyyn maalataan suurta kuvaa.
A giant mural takes shape on an apartment building on Kaironkatu. Image: Katriina Kettunen / Yle

In celebration of Finland’s independence centennial, artists will erect a giant mural on the apartment block located at Kaironkatu 4. Last year the event attracted 8,000 participants, in spite of inclement weather.

Meanwhile voices will ring out in the heart of the city at Senate Square, as 4,000 parish musicians from across the country gather for the Helsinki Church Music Festival. The festival kicks off from 7.00pm Saturday on the stairs of the Helsinki Cathedral as 900 singers form a giant choir. Sunday will be a quieter affair as celebrants attend a mass where Bishop Irja Askola will deliver the homily, one of her last before retirement.

Runners swarm city streets

Runners are expected to take over the city streets this weekend, this time on Sunday, as the annual Women’s Fun Run (Naisten Kymppi) shuts down some traffic in the capital between 1.00pm and 4.00pm. The 10k race will start at Citizens’ Square and end at Karamzininranta. Motorists in Helsinki will find some traffic restrictions to accommodate runners on the route.

The city will also literally come into bloom this weekend. The "Lovely Helsinki" city festival will fill the heart of the city with flowers for the sixth year running. This year the flower show will include 16 artistic creations stretching from the historic Tori Quarter through Helsinki Music Centre to Diananpuisto park in the Erottaja district.

City officials say the bumper weekend of open-air events will cause changes to public transportation services and timetables. Commuters are being advised to check schedule changes on the Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) website.

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