Children at a concert. Photo: Lauri Rotko / City of Helsinki

Helsinki opens Finland's EU Presidency period with summer party at Töölönlahti

Helsinki is the main stage for Finland’s EU Presidency period from July to December 2019. The meetings arranged in Finland will mainly be held at the Finlandia Hall. The opening of the presidency period is celebrated on July 8 at an open summer event on the Kansalaistori square and in the Töölönlahti Park. At the opening, the visitors can experience the Finnish summer day at its best.

– Helsinki welcomes its visitors to the most functional metropolis in the world, where an oasis of nature and the walking centre opens up from the backyard of the Finlandia Hall. In Helsinki, it is easy to experience sustainable everyday solutions independently, notes Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.

At the summer party in July, a convivial party area will be constructed in the Töölölahti Park, where people can gather for a picnic, to play garden games, to dance or to make bath whisks and flower garlands. There will also be music performances and the inauguration of the international junior football tournament Helsinki Cup. Part of the Helsinki Cup matches can be viewed from a prime spot.

At the Kansalaistori square, in addition to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Europe Information and the representation of the EU parliament and the European Commission in Finland will also supplement the event programme. As the holder of the presidency, Finland highlights the importance of climate change by making it a visible part of the summer party: artist Kaisa Salmi’s art piece called Plastic Mama, a baroque dress out of recycled plastic created together with schoolchildren, will be set up at the venue.

Plastic Mama -teos. Kuva: Anna Häkkinen / Helsingin kaupunki

In connection to the opening, there is also the planned launch of a six-month sports event. It invites city residents, tourists and conference guests to go around the Töölönlahti bay and accumulate kilometres on the joint journey around the world.

Helsinki is a forerunner of sustainable city development

The presidency period’s six ministerial meetings and over 100 other EU meetings are expected to bring almost 20,000 conference guests and around 1,000 representatives of the media to Helsinki. To the EU guests, Helsinki tells its story as a European forerunner of sustainable city development. For example, Helsinki is the first European city that has committed to the reporting on the UN’s sustainable development goals, and it now challenges other European cities to join the sustainable city development. The cornerstones of Helsinki’s sustainable development are the goal to reach carbon neutrality and equal urban planning.

Mölkyn pelaajia. Kuva: Lauri rotko / Helsingin kaupunki

As part of the presidency period, Helsinki Impact Conference, to be arranged 9–10 October 2019, brings together city leaders, urban planners and researchers to discuss the role of the cities as a unifying force for the European community and makers of change.

– The cities have a special ability to operate as pragmatic and comprehensive problem solvers. Through the Helsinki Impact conference, we want to stimulate the discussion about what a significant role the cities possess in reaching both global and European goals. The future is made in cities, emphasises Mayor Vapaavuori.