Huvilanranta illuminated in the evening. Photo: Petri Anttila


The annual Arts Night event will mark the beginning of the Helsinki Festival on Thursday, August 17. The evening will feature a live broadcast of the Helsinki City Orchestra's concert from the Music Centre to various parks in the city, while Kansalaistori Square will host imaginative disaster movie endings conceived by local residents. The Helsinki Festival will run until September 3.

During Arts Night, the Helsinki Festival will literally echo throughout the city as the Helsinki City Orchestra, led by Jukka-Pekka Saraste, presents a Helsinki-themed concert live from the Music Centre. Thanks to Elisa's 5G network connections, the concert will be streamed to city parks, including Kaivopuisto, Lapinlahti, and Sinebrychoff Park. These "Parks in Tune" concerts will offer a picnic-style atmosphere, with events at Kaivopuisto, Lapinlahti, and Sinebrychoff Park taking place on Arts Night and during the festival's opening weekend, August 17–19. On August 18, The Tallis Scholars will perform in the parks, followed by a concert by Jonna Tervomaa celebrating 40 years of her singing career at Huvila Park on August 19.

"Interest in unique experiences is on the rise, and tickets to the most popular events are hard to come by. Digitalization enables multi-channel event execution and reaching a wider audience, and the open-air park concerts during the Helsinki Festival are a great example of this. Elisa's 5G Stand Alone technology ensures that the concert's sound is transmitted to the parks through its dedicated data bandwidth," stated Petteri Svensson, Director of Corporate Customers and Services at Elisa.

Meanwhile, at Kansalaistori Square, Arts Night attendees will have the opportunity to experience disaster movie endings as part of an interactive film project by Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. Celebrating their 20th year as artists, the duo collected script ideas for fictional disaster movie endings set at Kansalaistori Square through an open call to the public. Selected scenarios were filmed during the summer with the participation of around a hundred volunteer actors. These scenarios will now be presented with a live musical accompaniment by the cult band Cleaning Women. The project is a collaboration with Helsingin Sanomat. The evening at Kansalaistori Square will conclude with an open-air screening of the movie "Airplane!" (1980).

"Many of the world's catastrophes are human-made, but humans are also part of the solution. We were delighted by the enthusiasm of the residents in ideating the final moments of disaster movie scenes and acting in the selected scenarios. It felt good to address real fears and problems together with others, through imagination and collective play. The nighttime shootings at Kansalaistori were a great experience, and we are excitedly anticipating the culmination of the project on Arts Night," Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen shared.

The Celebration and Free Events Across the City

The festive atmosphere of Arts Night will extend throughout Helsinki with hundreds of other free events. These will include open rehearsals by theaters, dance performances, circus acts, literary discussions, museum open houses, and live music spanning various genres. The extensive lineup of Arts Night will feature acts like Etno-Espa, Stoan Elojuhlat, and other programs by Helsinki's cultural centers. Notable offerings will include opera in courtyard settings, piano music at Töölönlahti, and Tatu Rönkkö's percussion improvisation at Huvilanranta. Outdoor film screenings will take place at Kansalaistori Square and other venues such as the City Museum courtyard, Kino Engel, Tiivistämö, Teurastamo, and the Dance House. The Arts Night program is a collaborative effort with the city's residents, and events can be submitted until August 15. The continuously updated program can be explored online.

Festival Program Launches at Music Centre, Huvila, and Tanssin talo

Helsinki Festival will envelop the city in a cultural extravaganza until September 3. The main venues for the festival will be the Music Centre, Tanssin talo (Dance House), and Huvila and Huvilanranta. The classical music concerts will include performances by the Helsinki City Orchestra, Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, the Aurora Orchestra playing Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" from memory, and the O/Modernt Orchestra that creatively blends contemporary and old music. The festival will also see the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho's final work, the HUSH trumpet concerto, which will be broadcast live on Yle channels.

Huvila's stage will host stars like Ethiopian jazz icon Mulatu Astatke, Beth Orton in her first-ever concert in Finland, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, John Cale of The Velvet Underground, and the current rock sensation Nothing But Thieves. Domestic top artists such as Jonna Tervomaa, Katri Helena, Tuomari Nurmio, Arppa, Sanni, and Egotrippi will also grace the Huvila stage. On the opening night of August 17, a group of the most exciting R&B and hip-hop artists, including Yeboyah, F, Hassan Maikal, Pesso, Yrjänä, and Figaro, will take the spotlight.

At Tanssin talo, the festival will present Pina Bausch's "The Rite of Spring," premiered in 1975, performed by a group of over 30 dancers from 14 African countries, as well as the "common ground(s)" duet by Germaine Acogny and Malou Airaud. The performing arts program will also feature "ONSTAGE – The Concert" by Tiia Kasurinen, delving into the world of pop stars and club gigs, and the documentary theater piece "Two Phone Calls" addressing political power dynamics. The Dance house will also showcase Ajamana, a performance inspired by the techno scene, by Juhani Nuorvala, Tölöläb, and Awake Percussion.

The festival's diverse offerings will also include partner festivals such as Alakulttuuripäivä, Art goes Kapakka, Helsinki Opera Summer, Outsider Art Festival, Runokuu (Poetry Month), SAMPO Festival, Teatteri Sirkus Suosalo, and Viapori Jazz. The Helsinki Festival promises a rich and vibrant cultural experience for residents and visitors alike.

The Helsinki Festival will be celebrated from August 17 to September 3, 2023. The entire program can be explored at the website. Tickets for the events are available for purchase on Ticketmaster or The full program for Arts Night can be found here.

The main partners of the festival are Helsingin Sanomat and Elisa, with sponsorship from Accenture, and service partners including Akun tehdas, Helsinki Bryggeri, Heku, Marski by Scandic, and Renault.