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Record-breaking 100K march in Helsinki Pride

The annual march for equality drew record numbers of attendees and sponsors alike, organiser Heseta says.

Ihmisiä istuu Tuomiokirkon portailla.
More people than ever before attended this year's Helsinki Pride. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Some 100,000 people flocked to the Senate Square in Helsinki on Saturday for Helsinki Pride, an annual march promoting LGBTQ rights and community spirit. That many people have never before taken part in Helsinki's version of the march.

Organised by human rights organisation Heseta, the march began at 1 pm and made its way through the city centre to Kaivopuisto park some two kilometres away by the sea. Police say the whole event featured no incidents, although changes to traffic were imposed in certain areas until 4 pm.

Helsinki pride Senaatintorilla.
The march began at the Senate Square at 1 pm on Saturday. Image: Berislav Jurišić / Yle

"Clearly more marchers this year than before," Helsinki police tweeted on Saturday. In fact attendance figures nearly tripled from the estimated 35,000 people that police say has remained a fairly steady number in recent years, until now.

The march concluded in the traditional outdoor Party in the Park in Kaivopuisto, which featured many speakers, DJs, performers and sponsors. Numerous politicians across party lines also tweeted and published photos of the march.

Helsinki Pride -kulkueen osallistujia 2016.
Happy marchers! Image: Mauri Ratilainen / AOP

This year particularly many sports associations – from horse riding and badminton to judo and boxing – gave their support to Helsinki Pride, which lasts from 25 June to 1 July.

Singer Saara Aalto has participated in many Pride events worldwide, and told Yle she wants to continue working for people's right to love.

"I'm so grateful to all the people in my life who have given me the opportunity to become who I am," said Aalto, who showed up in a large truck fitted with a dance stage. "Love is the most important thing!"

The final event of Pride week is Saturday's party at Hernesaarenranta, headlined by trans pop icon Dana International, pop star Zühlke, indie rock band Fresh Tides, YouTuber and singer Tuure Boelius and Jytää ja Iskelmää DJ.

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