The center of summery Helsinki is the Esplanade Stage, which this year again will feature programs throughout the summer five days a week. Photo: Jussi Hellsten

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Helsinki’s cultural summer kicks off with an exciting lineup at the Esplanade Stage, offering a diverse array of nearly 250 performances, free of charge, until August 31. This year’s program promises an eclectic mix of jazz, folk, pop, rock, classical music, dance, and circus performances, catering to all ages.

The season opens on May 16th with the Esplanade Stage’s inaugural concert in the heart of Helsinki.

Throughout the summer, attendees can experience performances from notable Finnish artists such as Arja Saijonmaa, Samae Koskinen, and Paleface. The festival’s schedule includes popular themed weeks like Jazz-Espa in July-August and Etno-Espa, featuring folk and world music. Additionally, the MIL-Espa series by the Finnish Defence Forces’ bands will start on May 24th with the Air Force Big Band’s tribute concert to Ray Charles, led by Sami Pitkämö.

Starting May 17th, the Open Stage Fridays will showcase passionate amateurs and emerging artists, totaling 49 performances over the summer. Among them, progressive rock band Overhead will perform on June 6th, and Elias Nieminen Ensemble will blend classical and light music on July 11th.

The opening day will see performances from indie-electropop artist Iris Kukka, harmonica quartet Sväng, and jazz singer Anna Inginmaa starting at 5 PM. Throughout June, the stage will host international rhythms with performances from Chilean fusion band Calle Mambo and others. Midsummer week will be highlighted by Finnish music icon Arja Saijonmaa’s debut performance at the Esplanade, along with a folk dance and music event by Seurasaari Foundation.

In July, the lineup features artists like Paleface, Laulava Unioni, and rock performer Knucklebone Oscar. Special events include a masterclass by bass baritone Jaakko Ryhänen with tenor Jyrki Anttila, and a community sing-along organized by Sulasol. Fans of tango and indie pop will enjoy performances by Teijo Lindström and Satu Lii respectively.

August will be dominated by Jazz-Espa and Etno-Espa festivals, showcasing artists such as Selma Savolainen’s Horror Vacui, Sami folk band Suõmmkar, and Iranian artist Mehrnoosh. The Art Night will feature Vilma Jää, recent recipient of the Etno-Emma award.

Family-friendly programming throughout the summer includes performances by Aarne Alligator and the popular duo Mimi and Kuku, ensuring entertainment for attendees of all ages.

The season concludes on August 31st, with all events accessible via www.espanlava.fi, promising a rich cultural experience for residents and visitors of Helsinki.

HT

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