Please note: Many of the events below are in-person. Please make sure to follow the country’s current COVID-19 guidelines (find them here), as they may change between the time this calendar is published and when an event takes place. Always maintain social distance, wash your hands, and wear a mask when possible.
From the end of November, the capital city area in Finland is closing a number of public spaces, forbidding public events, and moving what’s possible online to maintain social distancing and prevent COVID-19 from spreading further.
But worry not! We listed a bunch of safe things to do in Helsinki this December. Some of them outside, where distance can be held, and some brought to you through your own screen. After the first coronavirus wave, many exhibitions and events have moved online permanently for easy access in the future, which is actually quite lovely, with or without a global pandemic!
Here’s everything happening in Helsinki this December:
5th to 9th December
Tuomaan markkinat Christmas Market at the Senate Square
The biggest and oldest outside Christmas market in Finland, Tuomaan markkinat, is an annual favorite for both locals and tourists. Selling season treats, warm glögi (mulled wine), and crafts of all sorts this market is bound to get you in the Christmas spirit. Oh, and bring your camera! You’ll want to snap a shot of the beautiful carousel and maybe even take a ride on it.
The Independence Day Reception on Yle Areena
Finland’s Independence Day celebration has always looked different from the rest of the world – while other countries pump it up by throwing a joyous fiesta, the Finns light a candle and curl up by the TV to watch the Independence Day Reception at the Presidential Palace. Every year on the 6th of December, we mindfully watch hundreds of people shake hands with the President and their spouse.
During the 100-year period of Finland’s independence, this reception has been canceled only a dozen times. It’s unclear yet exactly what the reception will look like this year, but supposedly, this year, all of Finland is invited, not only the chosen few.
There’s plenty you can do at home to celebrate Idependence day too! Check out our guide to the traditions of the event.
Ongoing in December
Stockmann’s Christmas Window
Stockmann, the biggest department store in the Nordic Countries, has used their prime window space in Helsinki to build a magical Christmas scene since 1949. The Christmas window, or Fairytale window as it’s also called, is a kick-off for many for the Christmas season.
This year’s window illustrates a gingerbread land with elves and cute animals in it. Standing close to the window you can hear an original piece of music composed to bring the gingerbread world alive.
Aleksi Christmas Street Lights
Starting from the Stockmann window and continuing East towards the Senate Square, you’ll walk underneath the traditional Aleksi Christmas Street Lights, lit annually since 1948. The official Christmas Street is, originally, a commercial stunt, but has become a symbol of Christmas time for most Helsinkians.
The Market Square area and the SkyWheel
Standing at the Market Square, you have sights everywhere you look. You’ll see two of our biggest cathedrals, you can smell the ocean, and you’re just a hop away from the urban park Esplanadi.
Here you also have the SkyWheel Ferris wheel. With the private booths, you get a chance to discover Helsinki from up above without disrespecting social distancing. And, if you’re lucky, and the sky is blue, you might get a glimpse of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital, far over the ocean.
Walk around Töölönlahti
Töölönlahti, the bay in Töölö, is situated in the middle of four different parts of Helsinki – the city center, Töölö, Alppiharju and Kallio. The walk around the bay is 2,2 long, and gives you a chance to connect with nature without ever leaving the city.
The Sibelius monument
The Sibelius monument is one of those sights that you never visit as a local but always recommend to a tourist. But Covid or not, tourist or local, this is truly a forever-tip – it’s free and available to see day and night, throughout the year.
The monument consists of 600 organ pipes and is a memorial to the national composer Jean Sibelius. Continue your walk along the shore towards Hietaniemen ranta (Hietaniemi beach) for some fresh, crisp winter winds.
Walk around in Puu-Vallila
In eastern Helsinki, you’ll find the area Vallila, and inside Vallila you’ll be amazed at the even smaller Puu-Vallila (directly translated Wooden Vallila). These wooden city blocks were originally a working-class home base, but have now become one of the most sought-after areas to live in due to the original atmosphere. The narrow streets and colorful wood houses create an idyllic, village feel and hide the kind of small cafés and boutiques you won’t find anywhere else.
Alvar Aalto’s ateljé virtual tour
There’s something about seeing a designer’s atelier up close. Alvar Aalto has shaped the aesthetics of Finland more than anyone else. Known for both timeless buildings and furniture, Aalto was a keen believer of the right kind of workspace – architectural art cannot be born in an office-like environment, he said.
Finnish glass museum virtual tour
The Finnish Glass Museum is just as lovely a concept as it sounds – a museum specialized in glass art. This virtual tour, that beautifully has captured the different shapes and lights of glass and ceramic objects, is a treat for the eye.
Gallen Kallela Museum virtual tour
Painter Akseli Gallen Kallela’s museum is like any 2020 interior dream board on Pinterest, but better – minimalistic, bohemian, full of light and earthy materials. And his paintings are gorgeous, too. For the ones missing traveling, Gallen Kallela is a great source for beauty, as well; during his life, he illustrated his visits to Russia, Kenya, Paris, Berlin, New Mexico, and many other places.
The Natural History Museum virtual tour
Keen on seeing elephants, dinosaurs, or mammoths? Done! In the Natural History Museum, you get floor after floor of both current and extinct species, and all the fun facts that come with them. Here’s one: elephants are constantly eating since they need up to 150kg of food a day. So don’t feel bad about all those extra corona snacks these days, an elephant would approve.
Finnish Air Force Museum virtual tour
Never thought you were into aircraft, if it didn’t concern worrying about its impact on the planet or having it magically transfer you to warmer degrees, did you? Me neither. This viral tour is truly uplifting, though; never have I ever sat in five different cockpits during the same day! Or any cockpit, for that matter…
Suomenlinna virtual walk
It’s easy to forget – especially during winter – that the archipelago is right there, often just a short ferry ride away. The most visited of all Helsinki islands, Suomenlinna, is now available to explore through your computer screen, and what’s best – you get to walk around in stunning summer weather!
Kaisaniemi botanical garden virtual walk
Even though unable to smell the smells or feel the damp heat of the botanical garden, this tour really is worth a virtual stroll. Hands down one of my favorite places in the world is lovely even through a screen.
Ballet and Opera streams
Last spring the Finnish National Opera and Ballet was quick to take their repertoire online. They keep doing so even now – regularly updating their streams with new performances, you can now enjoy a handful of tragedies and dramas from the safety of your own home.
Within Finland, Yle Areena gives you full access to the archives of our national broadcasting company YLE, containing thousands of hours of movies and series. Since Finns are big fans of international cinema and TV, you’ll find an enormous bank of English spoken art, entertainment, and news behind just a few clicks.
Have you ever heard of a competition looking for The Funniest Person in the World? And did you know that Finland’s own stand-up comedian Ismo Leikola won this competition in 2014? Now you do! Pop the corn and put your feet up. Even though not fancy high culture, we all know that the essence of things is often discovered through comedy.
If you’re a business or organisation that would like us to add your event to next month’s calendar, please contact us at hello [@] scandinaviastandard [dot] com. Thank you!
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