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Night of the Arts turns capital into cultural wonderland

A chain of falling dominoes winding through the city centre, a ‘love jukebox’ in a park, silent films in a church, performance art in a traffic circle, workshops, poetry, flamenco and Bollywood dance, music from Uganda, theatre... Helsinki’s Night of the Arts brings hundreds of events throughout the city and suburbs on Thursday evening.

We Love Helsingin Museo Aero Solar.
The Museo Aero Solar project aims to create a giant translucent balloon. Image: Helsingin Juhlaviikot

As the Helsinki Festival's biggest event began, a string of thousands of dominoes several kilometres long wound its way through the downtown area. They were knocked down in a spectacular chain reaction that began at 6pm on Tähtitorninmäki (Observatory Hill) in the Ullanlinna neighbourhood, ending up about 45 minutes later at Senate Square. The dominoes were set up by some 500 volunteers.

On the Citizens’ Square (Kansalaistori) near the Helsinki Music Centre and the Kiasma art museum, there’s an Open Stage where anyone can perform music, dance, poetry or rapping, for instance. Another square, Kasarmitori, became a showcase for ‘art vehicles’.

Meanwhile on the Glass Palace (Lasipalatsi) square, there was an attempt to create a hot-air balloon made of recycled plastic bags, which have been taped together through a volunteer effort. If it works, people will be able to step inside the balloon, which should measure some 10 metres across. The project was organised by the We Love Helsinki collective as part of an international art venture known as Museo Aero Solar.

There are free flamenco shows on Porvoonkatu at 8.30 and 9.15pm and concerts by Ugandan musicians at the Caisa Cultural Centre on Mikonkatu just off the Railway Square. Meanwhile the bandshell in Esplanade Park offers shows by the harmonium duo Zwei Mannborgs (7pm), Finnish-American singer Vuk (8.30pm) and the ‘imaginary world music’ band Alamaailman Vasarat (10pm).

Hundreds of other events are taking place in parks, libraries and cultural buildings, with many museums offering extended hours and free admission.

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