Plastic Mama, an artwork by Kaisa Salmi. Photo: Vesa Laitinen

Cheerful public event launches Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU

Helsinki celebrated the opening of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union with a relaxed park festival at Töölönlahti on Monday, 8 July. The all-day event welcomed thousands of visitors from Finland and abroad. All happenings and components of the festival echoed sustainability, which is an important theme for Finland during the presidency.

Sustainability was reflected by the programme and sites, including a Youth Eco-café, a hobbyhorse workshop with hobbyhorse materials provided by Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre (Pääkaupunkiseudun kierrätyskeskus), and biodegradable face glitter paints at the EU tent.

The programme was received with enthusiasm, and the atmosphere was joyous. Some workshops were so popular that the organizers ran out of materials. “We had to fetch more materials for the hobbyhorse workshop in the middle of the day. Many old woolen socks and floorball sticks got new lives,” commented the producers of the park festival Hanna Iiskola and Hanna-Mari Ukkonen.

The strongest messages about sustainability were delivered through the artwork Plastic Mama. The 30-metre-wide artwork created from recycled plastics was artist Kaisa Salmi’s statement about the state of the Earth. The artist addressed the audience from the top of the artwork for 10 hours.

The Finnish Presidency opening festival also marked the launch of a Töölönlahti sports project, which challenges everybody to move around the Earth for the good of the Baltic Sea.

“The sports project extends through the Finnish Presidency period. Helsinki invites every resident, visitor and meeting guest to tour the Töölönlahti area, accumulating kilometres on a joint tour around the Earth. If and when we log enough kilometres to circle the Earth, about 40,000 kilometres, the City of Helsinki will donate the funds originally earmarked for gifts to meeting participants, a total of 50,000 euros, to Baltic Sea protection,” affirmed Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori in his opening speech.

Töölönlahti as an ideal park festival site

The Töölönlahti area was put to use as a festival site to an unprecedented extent. The festival site stretched from the Kansalaistori square to the shores of the Töölö bay. The area served the purpose well, and the many event booths and locations including daytime dance grounds and children’s venues had plenty of space in the park.

For the first time, the international youth football tournament Helsinki Cup brought its games to the heart of the city. Prime Minister Antti Rinne and Mayor Vapaavuori kicked off Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union together with Helsinki Cup players. The kickoff was taken by Mayor Vapaavuori, to be caught by goalkeeper Frank Ahlgren.

The festival day ended with the official opening of Helsinki Cup with thousands of children and young people defying rain.

The Finnish Presidency opening festival was organized by the City of Helsinki in cooperation with the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office, Europe Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the offices of the European Parliament and Commission in Finland, and Helsinki Cup.

The best moments of the park festival can be relived on the City of Helsinki social media channels.


The photos:

Plastic Mama, an artwork by Kaisa Salmi. Photo: Vesa Laitinen

The Finnish Presidency kickoff was taken by Mayor Vapaavuori, to be caught by goalkeeper Frank Ahlgren. Photo: Vesa Laitinen

A hobbyhorse rider. Photo: Vesa Laitinen

Giant soap bubble show by Ruffle Army. Photo: Vesa Laitinen

The Helsinki Cup opening procession. Photo: Vesa Laitinen

Read more:
Going around the world at Töölönlahti
Summer Day Festival at Töölönlahti
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