Listeners by the Espa Stage.

Coronavirus recovery aid boosts cultural offerings in Helsinki

The coronavirus recovery aid to the Culture and Leisure Division enables a record number of spectacular events in Helsinki this summer. Espa Stage, for example, features diverse musical performances, and the Helsinki Living Streets event brings stand-up comedy, performances and street theatre to the city centre. Cultural centres offer pride events for young people, music gigs, urban agriculture and much more. New microgrants aim to promote the rapid recovery of the cultural field from the pandemic period.

Thanks to the funding earmarked for coronavirus recovery, the summer event offerings in both the city centre and cultural centres will be more plentiful and diverse than ever. With the pandemic restrictions finally lifted, the city wants to support the enjoyment and coexistence of all Helsinki residents and visitors to the city.

The diverse selection of events is also a means of ensuring the recovery of the cultural field after a difficult period. Helsinki artists and cultural actors have also received €250,000 in direct aid for post-pandemic recovery in the form of new microgrants. The grants are used to fund almost 300 small-scale art and cultural events open to all free of charge.

During the summer and early autumn, city residents get to enjoy diverse performances and flash mobs in unexpected places. Examples of the above include gramophone dances at Baana, a Georgian table song event at Teurastamo, Ostrobothnian songs and touring bicycle puppet theatre in Kallio, gardener’s sauna seminar in Herttoniemi, a meditative art walk at Lauttasaari and body poems on Kallahti beach.

Helsinki Living Streets brings performing arts to the streets

Helsinki Living Streets is a cultural programme that brings performing arts to the city centre and invites residents to enjoy encounters and spend time together. The curation of the programme has focused as much as possible on employing freelancers in various fields of art. Music, dance, circus, art performances and participatory workshops will take over the city centre between 16 June and 25 August. There will be a touring programme for all ages every Thursday and on several weekends.

You can enjoy Helsinki Living Streets at the Helsinki Biennial Pavilion on the Market Square, in the Makasiinipuisto Park in the Töölönlahti area, in the National Museum’s summer courtyard, on the Espa Stage and the city’s Summer Streets in front of the Design Museum. For the full programme, visit the tapahtumat.hel.fi website.

On the Thursday before Midsummer, 23 June, the Summer Streets and the Helsinki Biennial Pavilion will see performances by artists like Compañía Kaari & Roni Martin Goes ROOTS, who combine flamenco and Balkan spirit with poetry by Pentti Saarikoski, and the contemporary circus group Blind Gut Company, with their performance for the whole family, “Kuin kala puussa” (“Like a fish in a tree”). There will also be participatory workshops for children and adults offered by the Helsinki Living Streets goes National Museum on three weekends.

The traditional Espa Stage concerts and other cultural diversity events kick off already in mid-May and will continue more plentiful than ever until early September. All Espa Stage events are free of charge and wheelchair accessible. For the full summer programme, visit the Espa Stage website.

Summer gigs, urban farming and Pride programme at cultural centres

Helsinki cultural centres’ summer courtyards provide a wide variety of programmes throughout the summer, including music gigs, urban farming and dancing. Maunula House’s Summer Square will host Open Stage performing arts evenings and Friday Gigs featuring exciting artists, including rising punk bands Tamara Luonto and Seksihullut (Fri 29 July).

Equality and non-discrimination are celebrated at the Vuosaari House’s Youth Pride evening on Tue, 28 June. The programme includes a flower wreath workshop, badge workshop, queer book exchange, recital by the drag poet Maimu Brushwood and rainbow-themed book exhibition. Catching rhythms and dance moves are provided by Delado, a dance and music group from Finland and Burkina Faso. Malmitalo will show theme-related films during Pride Week. At the Youth Pride event on Thursday, 30 June, there are workshops where you can make yourself a flower wreath or paint colourful summer nails.

From June to August, you can try urban farming at the cultural centre yards. There is a lush community garden in the courtyard of Annantalo to learn gardening skills, observe the growth of edible plants and enjoy relaxed gardening in the middle of the city. Stoa’s All the World’s a Garden offers a chance to enjoy the atmosphere of an international garden and admire useful plants, herbs and flowers from different corners of the world. The project is realised as a co-operation between the association of the Iraqi women INY ry, Itäkeskus Library, African Care ry and local residents.

The summer courtyards of Annantalo, Malmitalo, Kanneltalo, Stoa and Vuosaari House will again serve as venues for free-of-charge city dances. At the relaxed weekday dance evenings, you can learn partner dances such as waltz, schottische, samba, humppa and tango under the guidance of trained dance instructors. Join in with a partner or alone, with no advance registration required.

The summer programme at the cultural centres continues until August, including the celebration of the 30th birthday of Kanneltalo. The birthday party on Friday, 19 August, features the disco queen Eini, the chameleonic Litku Klemetti and the Mari Kätkä Trio, who leads the audience in a sing-along. The first Kantsu village festival will be celebrated on Saturday, 20 August, with the festivities including a flea market, dance and theatre, music, children’s programme and workshops. A more detailed timetable and performers will be published later. Explore the plentiful and diverse summer programme of Helsinki cultural centres here.

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Helsinki Living Streets will take culture event brings performing arts to the streets

Main photo: Listeners by the Espa Stage. Photo: Helsinki Partners/Jussi Hellsten