The flow festival is one of the biggest happenings in summertime in Helsinki.

Helsinki seeks government guidance on fate of summer events

Close to 30 large-scale gatherings planned for the coming months are in limbo, so the City of Helsinki has called on the Finnish government to come up with a national policy to clear up the uncertainty.

The City of Helsinki has been continually analyzing the long-term effects of the coronavirus crisis in different sectors. For example, the work of many event planners is at an impasse, as no one can say for sure when current social distancing measures will stop. To clear up the fate of several proposed events, the city has asked the Finnish government to come up with a national policy soon with regard to large gatherings planned for the summer. 

Large public events can be key platforms for the spread of new coronavirus infections. The City of Helsinki has approximately 30 different events in the pipeline that would gather more than 5,000 participants in one place.

Current government regulations in Finland extend to 13 May. If a policy determining the size of acceptable gathering was agreed upon until 31 August, municipal leadership argues, it would give many event planners, performers, customers, subcontractors and other various partners peace of mind.

“Events in Helsinki significantly lift both our spirits and the economy. The event planning industry provides work for many young people, and feeds into a larger service and production sector. Events attract customers to hotels, restaurants and local services. We heartily endorse our city’s events, but people’s health and safety must come first. Event planners throughout the country would find their situation greatly improved, if they had a better understanding of what next summer has in store,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.

Section 58 of Finland’s Communicable Diseases Act grants Helsinki the right to determine policy and enact decisions independently. Since the covid-19 outbreak, Finland’s capital has nevertheless chosen to adhere to state-imposed guidelines in lieu of creating its own. The city hopes for smooth cooperation with the government with regard to the future course of action.

Significant financial repercussions

Helsinki has not estimated the cumulative effect that its largest summer events have on the city’s economy.  The changing number of events each year also makes it hard to come up with a ballpark figure.

In 2017, seven major summer events: the Helsinki Day birthday celebration, Helsinki Pride LGBTQ+ march, Tuska and Flow Music Festivals, Helsinki Cup soccer tournament and Rock the Beach outdoor concert were assessed to have a combined financial impact of 50 million euros. Using this estimate as a foundation, it follows that the combined worth of the events planned in Helsinki this summer could exceed 100 million euros. The fact that the Olympic Stadium renovation is now complete and could also potentially host several concerts could raise this forecast by tens of millions.

Another factor to consider is regional financial impact. In smaller urban areas, municipalities may coordinate an event’s turnover, but part of this money is transferred to other locations in the pockets of performers, subcontractors, event workers and various partners. In Helsinki, however, the overall financial impact tends to stay within the city limits.

Photo: Lauri Rotko