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Midsummer holiday reminder: Finland in partial shutdown

Changes to store opening times, postal services and transport timetables as Finland’s Midsummer holiday begins on Friday.

The lighting of bonfires is part of the Midsummer holiday custom across Finland. Image: AOP

Finland's annual Midsummer migration from cities and towns to the countryside begins today, and the holiday weekend means many shops and services operate on different schedules, if at all.

Here is a brief list of what to expect over the coming weekend.

Grocery stores decide their own opening hours, which means there are varying schedules for both K-Group and S-Group shops over the weekend.

About 800 S-Group outlets will be open during usual business hours on Friday and Saturday, while others will keep to a Sunday schedule. There is more location-specific information available here (in Finnish) using the ‘Hae toimipaikkaa’ search function.

K-Group stores operate in a similar way, although outlets located within shopping centres will be closed.

Finland’s state-owned alcohol retailer Alko keeps to its usual Midsummer schedule, staying open until until 9pm on Thursday and until 12 noon on Friday, but will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Post offices across the country close their doors at 6pm on Thursday, and will remain shut until Monday at 10am. The only exceptions are Helsinki's main Post Office, Postitalo, which is open until 12 noon on Midsummer Eve, and the Santa Claus Post Office in Rovaniemi, which is open every day from 9am to 6pm as per usual.

Posti services located within other businesses, such as supermarkets and grocery stores, are open at the same time as their hosts.

There will also be no mail delivered on Friday, except for newspapers.

Individual outlets of the Finnish pharmacy chain Apteekki have their own opening and closing schedules, but customers can find an open pharmacy by typing in their location under the 'Apteekki Haku' (service only available in Finnish) search function on the website.

Banks close on Thursday and will open again on Monday.

Public transport on weekend schedules

As usual on Midsummer weekend, Finland’s state railway firm VR’s services run on the -- sometimes confusing -- schedule of a Friday timetable on Thursday, a Saturday timetable on Friday, and a Sunday timetable on both Saturday and Sunday.

There are more details available on VR's website and exceptions are also outlined here.

Schedules for long-distance bus services are also subject to change over the weekend but more detailed information is available from the service providers’ websites, such as Matkahuolto and Onnibus.

Midsummer car traffic usually peaks on Thursday between 12pm to 7pm, with roads leading north out of Helsinki often congested. This year however, due to the exceptional circumstances brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the traffic situation is much more difficult to predict.

"It may be that people have already started distance working from their summer cottage, which may result in there being not very much traffic," Jussi Pohjonen of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom told Yle.

"But this is difficult to assess and the reality will only become apparent to us tomorrow [Thursday]," he said.

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