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Turku sticks to small and cozy for summer concerts

Finland is known for its large music festivals that draw performers and audiences from around the world. Turku's Ilmiö festival is bucking the trend of big -- with an intimate, sold-out annual festival that has no desire to expand.

M.A. Numminen ja Pedro Hietanen esiintymässä Ilmiö-festivaaleilla.
M.A. Numminen and Pedro Hietanen perform at this year's Ilmiö concert in Turku. Image: Yle

Small is beautiful at Turku's Ilmiö (Phenomenon) Festival, which presents Finnish and foreign music with whimsy for the fifth time this year.

More than 3,000 people participate in the annual event, which has been sold-out for the third year in a row.

But according to organizers, Ilmiö will stay small, because many Finns want an alternative to bigger summer gatherings.

By comparison, the Pori Jazz Festival draws an audience of 150,000 each July while Helsinki's growing Flow Festival attracted 65,000 visitors last August.

"Relaxed, clever and intimate"

According to event producer Tuomas Sara "Imiö is relaxed, creative and clever, and it offers an intimate atmosphere that you won't find at other festivals."

Held in the Turku's picturesque Uittamo National Park in southwest Finland, the festival draws hippies, hipsters and the occasional tourist with its multidisciplinary programme.

With about 60 artists -- that's comparable to the line-up at much larger festivals -- tickets cost 35 euros for the entire one-day festival. At a larger festival, one concert alone may cost double that price.

Sara says they won't expand the event so that it can retain its cozy, homemade feel, a big part of Ilmiö's appeal.

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