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Five events in Lakeland to experience the perfect mix of traditional and quirky
3 minute read
a man playing a cello in a pier while people jumping to a water in the Finnish Lakeland

Credits:: Stefan Bremer

Visiting the Lakeland region this summer?

Check out this list of local events before you go.

From world-class opera and chamber music to towing your spouse through an obstacle course, Lakeland’s summer calendar is loaded with fresh things to see, do and try.

people boarding steamships that are preparing on a lake cruise
Credits: Jaakko Posti

Let your hair down at Ilosaarirock in Joensuu

Show your wild side at Ilosaarirock, an annual music festival that takes place in Joensuu on the second weekend of July. First held in 1971, it’s the second oldest festival in Finland and one of the oldest in all of Europe. Each year, close to 70,000 festival-goers descend on Laulurinne park, some 500 metres from Linnunlahti beach, in search of upbeat energy, good tunes and exquisite visuals. Previous performers include world-class artists like Dizzee Rascal, Zara Larsson, and Mew, as well as local talents Alma and Sunrise Avenue. The festival offers basic, on-site accommodation and you can choose between two camping sites and school accommodation. Fun fact: At the 2017 event, festival-goers attempted to break the Guinness World Record for naked swimming.

fireworks at the end of a festival show
Credits: Arttu Kokkonen

Have a secret beer with chamber music stars in Kuhmo

Shhh...this might just be Finland’s best-kept secret. During two weeks in July each year, the tiny town of Kuhmo, which is located 600 km from Helsinki in eastern Finland, fills with world-class musical talent for the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. Founded in 1970 with the goal of combining chamber music and nature, the festival enables visitors to mingle with stars of the chamber music scene far away from the noise and pollution of the city. In 2022, the festival will be held for the 52nd time with a programme titled “Versatile emotions”. Aside from the music, don’t miss campfires, sauna nights or Salakamari, the secret bar, all happening at the festival site.

a chamber music orchestra performing at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland
Credits: Stefan Bremer

Get your blood pumping at Rally Finland in Jyväskylä

While chamber music, rock festivals and Guinness World Records are all good fun, nothing raises the pulse like a rally event. Along with the Monte-Carlo Rally, Rally Finland is – according to the professionals – an event that all drivers dream of winning. The fastest cars frequently reach 200 kph, and tree-lined tracks often feature huge jumps that launch competitors high into the air. In 2017, the number of spectators reached an astonishing 265,000, making this event one of the most-anticipated in the country.

the audience celebrating with the winners of the Rally Finland in Jyväskylä
Credits: : Julia Kivelä
A WRC rally car in race
Credits:: Julia Kivelä

Be swept away by opera in Savonlinna

Savonlinna is the pearl of the Finnish Lakeland region. And when the beauty of the town is complemented by the gorgeous tunes of world-class operas, it can be difficult not to get completely swept away. Let yourself go at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, which delights nearly 70,000 visitors each year with its magical performances, balmy nights and beautiful Olavinlinna Castle, a 15th-century castle built on an island in the Kyrönsalmi strait that connects the Pihlajavesi and Haukivesi lakes. This structure, the northernmost still-standing medieval stone castle, has been serving as a spectacular stage for the Opera Festival since 1912. With refurbished seating and a revamped auditorium, Olavinlinna Castle will welcome visitors back to the opera again in 2022.

a couple holding hands while staring at a 15th-century castle built on an island in the Kyrönsalmi in the Finnish lakeland
Credits: : Julia Kivelä
an opera performance in progress
Credits:: Hannu Luostarinen

Throw your partner over your shoulder (literally!) in Sonkajärvi

In early July, the tiny town of Sonkajärvi hums to life for the annual World Wife-Carrying Championships (yes, really!). Held in Sonkajärvi since 1992, this truly bizarre event features an obstacle course and rewards the winner with their wife's weight in beer. This quirky competition is not for the faint-hearted, though, as participation involves finishing the difficult course as quickly as possible while carrying a partner who’s at least 17 years old and weighs no less than 49 kilograms. Did we mention the course includes a sand track and a deep water pool? See the outlandish fun for yourself at this year’s fast-paced event.

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