Revelry and Robbery: Finnish Music Festivals
Summers in Finland are magical and bright. The northern sun, barely setting, electrifies the air. Everyone feels this and revels in it, spending time in summer cottages, eating ice cream outside, and enjoying the variety of music festivals that the country has to offer. I’ve been lucky to attend a number of different Finnish music festivals—Provinssirock, Ruisrock, Qstock, and Flow Festival. I went to three festivals the summer I lived in Finland alone. These weekends have included some of my greatest travel memories, as well as some of my worst. Overall, the effort and expense involved in attending these music festivals is entirely worth it if you plan your trip well.
There are a wide variety of music festivals in Finland, with different festivals leaning toward different genres. Some festivals are quite large and bring in internationally-renowned musicians. But, even at the largest festivals, I’ve been able to be front row for headliners without tremendous effort. If you’re considering going to a festival, check out the different types and see if some of your favorite artists might be making an appearance.
At the same time, these festivals are a fantastic opportunity to discover artists. Many lesser-known acts from nearby countries perform, as do Finnish artists, many of who are amazing. I’ve discovered some of my favorites from these festivals, and they represent a unique opportunity to not only see, but even possibly meet, these groups. I’ve also enjoyed seeing Finnish musicians I like along with me in the crowd for other shows.
Interested in checking out one of these Finnish music festivals? Here’s more information to help you make the most of your experiences.
Purchasing Tickets for the Festivals
One you’ve chosen a festival, making arrangements isn’t difficult. Finnish ticketing websites are available in English and I’ve never had problems with buying passes online. If you do have questions, don’t hesitate to turn to the festival’s Facebook group or other social media outlets, which are usually helpful.
Getting to the Festivals
Many festivals are located well outside of Helsinki, but Finland has an excellent train network that can get you where you need to go. Normally booking train tickets doesn’t need to be done far in advance, but it is a good idea to do so before popular festivals. Finland’s rail service, VR, has an easy-to-use website. Once you reach the destination train station, there are usually buses to get you the rest of the way to the festival site.
Lodging at the Festivals
You’ll also have to consider lodging. Some festivals offer camping, which can be a fun experience if you’re prepared to get little sleep and be surrounded by parties. Some festivals, like those in Helsinki, don’t have campsites so you’ll need to search for a hostel or a couchsurfing host instead. It is smart to do this ahead of time, since lodging can book up quickly during festival weekends. The bottom line for planning festival trips is that it isn’t difficult, but you should do it in advance.
Other Festival Highlights
When it comes to attending the actual festival, be ready for some amazing, sometimes even intimate, shows. Crowds are often exuberant and sometimes drunk, but people are generally polite. Don’t limit yourself to the music, either! Some festivals offer interesting food choice and art installations. At others, people enjoy picnicking and drinking on the grass in between shows. Finns may be outwardly reserved, but they are very curious about visitors and are usually incredibly nice when approached.
Staying Safe at Festivals
At the same time, even though Finland is an extremely safe country, do take common sense steps to protect yourself, particularly at music festivals where there are some who use this opportunity to prey on those who are drunk or distracted. I learned this the hard way when I was robbed while camping at a festival.
I woke up suddenly early Saturday morning and reached for my cell phone to check the time. My phone wasn’t there. My bag with everything—passport, festival passes, camera, money—was gone. The tent’s fly was unzipped. Someone had reached in while we were sleeping and, after rifling through my friend’s bag (her belongings were spilled), must have grabbed mine as I began to stir. I was horrified. I immediately borrowed a phone to call my parents in the States so they could cancel my credit cards and then my friend accompanied distraught me to the police station to file a report.
Unexpectedly, after we returned to the festival (they let us in after seeing the police report), another friend called. They had been near the lost-and-found and someone brought my bag, which had been found dumped in the woods! The best part was my passport was still there. It was that which could make quick resale money—my festival tickets, cash, and, most sadly, my camera—that had been taken.
Lesson learned: now I always sleep with my bags at my head, away from the tent opening. And in general, even when I’m in my beloved, generally safe Finland, I’m careful. This event was certainly atypical (even after attending dozens of festivals, my friends were shocked by this), but precautions can’t hurt!
By planning ahead and taking basic common sense precautions, you’ll be ready for a Finnish music festival. And really, there is little like it. Not only do you have the opportunity to see a wonderful variety of music, but you get to relish the gorgeous Finnish summer. The Finns know how to enjoy it, and this feeling is infectious under the midnight sun.
Revelry and Robbery: Finnish Music Festivals