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Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Folk Music Band Rällä

Our cultural personality of the week is not just one personality this time, but three personalities – the folk music band Rällä from Oulu spreads joy with their music, with Osmo Hakosalo and Erja Pätsi playing the violin and Anne-Mari Kanniainen playing the accordion.

The band describes their music as traditional but definitely not boring:

“The most important things for us about playing are having fun together, the communication between ourselves, variety, spontaneity, a good groove and the joy of playing!”

 

Rällä, how does life look like and feel now during these exceptional times?

“It has been quite nice and stable. We have missed jamming and collaborative playing though. Now we are starting to be already quite hopeful, kind of like children before Christmas.”

 

How does Oulu look like through your eyes right now?

“Right now, Oulu looks like the bright city of the north, as its name suggests, so it’s wonderfully bright. In general Oulu appears as an active and diverse city.”

 

Oulu, together with 32 other municipalities, is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Why would northern Finland be suitable to win the race?

“This is such a good and interesting location. Often all the big and interesting national things take place in the south, so this would be a good moment to choose the Oulu region. Internationally this is certainly an interesting and exotic location and it’s easy to come here from anywhere in Europe. There are a lot of talented, originally creative and persistent people here who could certainly bring forth an amazing cultural capital year in 2026.”

 

What does our leading theme, cultural climate change, mean to you?

“Maybe it means to us that the cultural climate and art (in our case music) is changing more and more from performing arts towards increased communality and participation. We want that at our gigs people can dance and participate, and in this way acquire strong and empowering communal experiences, and we can tell, teach and be inspired by our great Northern Ostrobothnian tradition.

We hope that we can change the one-sided and even boring image that many people have of folk music to an interesting and musically rich living tradition. Thirdly, we hope that the year 2026 would bring about permanent changes to the cultural life of our city and region and that a good and active spirit would remain for a long time.”

 

Send your regards to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture

“Folk musicians would possibly say that go Oulu – now give it your all!”

 

Image: Heini Hakosalo

Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Jukka-Pekka Metsävainio

“When art meets science the end result can be more than either of them could ever be on their own.”

This is what our cultural personality, Jukka-Pekka “J-P” Metsävainio, an astronomical nature photographer, who has spent over two decades documenting the night sky, thinks. The passion of the artist is to see and to present the beauty of universe.

Although Metsävainio is an artist he uses scientific instruments and methods to make his art, so the images meet the requirements of scientific representation as well.

“The images are esthetic, but true as well”, Metsävainio sums up.

 

 

J-P, how does your life look like and feel now during these exceptional times?

“The exceptional circumstances have not really affected my rather lonely work as a photographer. However, the epidemic has prevented all lecture trips around the world and cancelled significant gallery and art museum exhibitions for example in London and the United States, so in a larger perspective the effect has been even catastrophic.”

 

How does Oulu look like through your eyes right now?

“Like a city that is developing a lot and fast, when looking at the situation from here at Oulu’s Raksila garden district.”

 

Oulu, together with 32 other municipalities, is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Why would northern Finland be suitable to win the race?

“In the big perspective it is easy to forget the human and creative resources which are located in the north, far away from large metropolitan cities. It is important to bring up the work that is done far away from influencers and decision makers. Otherwise a great potential in large areas will go unnoticed and unutilized.”

 

Image: J-P Metsävainio

What does our leading theme, cultural climate change, mean to you?

“To me it means admitting that we are dependent on the natural state of the whole world in all areas of life. Culture is not a separate island but is as dependent on the well-being of nature as any other area of life.”

 

Send your regards to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture

“Congratulations Oulu, well skied!”

 

 

 

 

 

Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Julius Rantala

Our cultural personality of the week is a familiar face for many also from the television: Julius Rantala, a 28-year-old musician, music teacher and cultural enthusiast who lives in Oulu, but is originally from Tornio, came in second place in the Talent Finland season, which just ended.

 

Julius, how does your life look like and feel now during these exceptional times?

Right now, as spring is at its most beautiful, I feel very optimistic. Obviously, the exceptional times have cancelled most of the gigs, but at the same time that has driven me forward to practice and realize my own path with an even greater focus. The notes that I played at the lighthouse in Nallikari on a sunny afternoon loosened many people to tell that the live music felt like they would have been reunited with a good old friend.

 

How does Oulu look like through your eyes right now?

In my eyes Oulu looks still very fascinating but also homely. Both in the nature and in the cultural sector I still have a lot to get acquainted with. I feel that in Oulu there are always people who want to take things forward and who are always enthusiastically planning something new.

 

Oulu, together with 32 other municipalities, is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Why would northern Finland be suitable to win the race?

Northern Finland stands out from the crowd in a good way. The work around culture is realistic and rooted. Here cultural operators don’t compete against each other but strive to inspire one another.

 

What does our leading theme, cultural climate change, mean to you?

For me it means work towards a situation where cultural life thrives naturally. I believe that the creativity that is behind all culture is an intrinsic source of well-being within us. Together we create the constructions which have understanding for the mental as well as the concrete support which maintain it. Culture carries us through all kinds of times, like we carry culture!

 

Send your regards to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture

The journey continues with joy towards a diverse, humane and bright future.

 

Image: Samuel Vielma

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Asta Salomaa

Our cultural personality of the week is a 28-year-old culture producer and music pedagogue, Asta Salomaa, who is passionate about developing northern art and culture. At the moment Salomaa, who has produced several events and festivals in Oulu, works as a project manager for The Annual Air Guitar World Championship Contest and as a producer for The Oulu Culture Events Association. Salomaa is also the president of the board of the Oulu Music Video Festival.

Salomaa is originally from Helsinki but moved to Oulu almost 10 years ago to study music education at the University of Oulu.

 

Asta, how does your life look like and feel now during these exceptional times?

Life looks and feels alright, although the covid life is very tiresome. During the uncertainty of the covid times, and as my own work projects have been threatened, I have found strength from friends, winter swimming, sports and handicrafts.

 

How does Oulu look like through your eyes right now?

Oulu looks beautiful, familiar and safe to me. My home is here, and I enjoy being here. I live in a place near water with beautiful sceneries and I love that I can get anywhere with a bicycle. Oulu is full of colourful and diverse art and cultural life and here I have had good opportunities for professional self-actualization.

In Oulu there is a good team spirit in the cultural sector and during my career I have received a lot of support and advice from experienced professionals

 

Oulu, together with 32 other municipalities, is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Why would northern Finland be suitable to win the race?

The Oulu Music Video Festival has for a long time now been described with the term “Northern weirdness”. In my opinion this is an excellent term to describe also more broadly the originality and bravery of the art and cultural sectors of Northern Finland. I believe that the northern weirdness will bring the victory to Oulu in the competition for the title of the European Capital of Culture.

One of the most important competitive advantages of our region is the high-quality art education and music class activity. I myself am an example of a person who has moved from the south to the north because of art education. For me, the main attraction that brought me to Oulu and made me stay was the music education programme of the University of Oulu. In this region, the art education is an area of culture that keeps on developing and reforming: The trained music educators, music pedagogues, dance teachers and other art educators inspire yet again new people to create culture to our area.

The journey towards the European Capital of Culture is first and foremost about development. With all its imperfections Oulu is ready for this trip, because you find passionate and professional cultural developers in Oulu. One of these is The Oulu Culture Events Association, where we want to help the cultural operators in the region to flourish and to bring art and culture to everyone. Indeed, those who are interested in northern culture should follow the “Pohjoinen kulttuurivirta” channel that we have produced, where we introduce people who create northern culture, and also bring up conversation topics around the theme.

Furthermore, Oulu is not lacking international appeal, although that may be difficult to see here in the middle of our everyday lives. In February I received an excellent reminder about this when I started working with air guitarists from around the world. As I got to know these artists better, I found out that the Oulu that is so familiar and ordinary to us is like the wonderland of dreams for them, as they compete and dream of getting there. International attractions, such as The Annual Air Guitar World Championship Contest, will take us to victory in the competition for the ECoC title.

 

What does our leading theme, cultural climate change, mean to you?

For me cultural climate change means that with art and culture you can affect the atmosphere and attitudes in the society. As a part of cultural climate change art and culture can be harnessed as ice breakers in challenges that face our community. I wish that in Oulu cultural climate change would reduce confrontations between different people and ideologies and would increase equality and understanding towards diversity in our community.

Cultural climate change also brings up more of the voices and stories from those members of our community to whom we do not get to, or know how to, stop and listen to. This requires that we, the creators of culture, constantly critically evaluate our own activity and the power structures of our community.

 

Send your regards to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture

Congratulations Oulu! It’s your time to shine!

 

Image: Anni Hyypiö

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the bid book publishing show on Thursday 22.4

We warmly wish you welcomed – the bid book publishing show will be happening on thursday 22.4. from 18 to 19

Now, there is a unique opportunity to familiarise yourself with the contents of the hundred-page bid book, and the secret weapons that Oulu will pursue the win with. The bid book will be published to the general public on Thursday at 18.00 in an online show that will be available to view in Mun Oulu and City of Oulu YouTube channel. The show will be only available in Finnish.

“We are now revealing everything! We will share the jewels of Oulu’s bid book with amazing guests and conversations”, tells the Director of Oulu2026, Piia Rantala-Korhonen.

How has Culture Climate Change been created and what would the title of European Capital of Culture bring with it?

The show will explain more about the bidding journey, the contents of the application, the North, and city culture. We will be chatting with

  • Literary Artist Timo Harju, Artistic Director of Oulu Theatre Alma Lehmuskallio,
  • Air Guitarist Aapo Rautio Executive Director of Oulu Urban Culture Heikki Myllylahti,
  • Chief Executive Officer of Micropolis Ltd. Leena Vuotovesi and Chief Operating Officer of Oulu Safaris Janne Soini.

The show will begin in typical Oulu fashion with an air guitar performance, and will end beautifully with the stunning music of Lanai from Oulu. The partner municipalities are also involved with their cheerful greetings.

Welcome!

Published on Mun Oulu -kaupunkimedia and City of Oulu YouTube channel (direct link will be updated later). You can also follow the programme on the Oulu2026 Facebook page.

Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Sampo Puoskari

Our cultural personality of the week, collaboration coordinator of the Museum and Science Centre Luuppi, Sampo Puoskari, knows Science Centre Tietomaa like the back of his hand – Puoskari began his career at the science centre all the way back in 1993.

Puoskari has previously worked as a journalist and his hobbies include reading, movies and voluntary national defence work. Puoskari hasn’t completely abandoned his work as a journalist, as he is the editor-in-chief of Northern Ostrobothnia’s national defence publication Pohjanpoika.

 

Sampo, how does your life look like and feel now during these exceptional times?

One year ago on Valentine’s Day a boy was born to my family, and during the long-distance working period I have had time quite nicely to follow his growth and development. I live in Pattijoki, so the daily travelling to Oulu has become a lot less frequent during this time.

Regarding work, Tietomaa has been closed for long periods of time due to covid-19 restrictions, which has stopped for example guided tours from my part completely. However, I have filled the void by starting Tieto-Sampo’s Facebook updates on Tietomaa’s Facebook page and also by making science videos for Tietomaa.

 

How does Oulu look like through your eyes right now?

Right now Oulu is being developed a lot in different ways. The expectations for the future are great and Oulu has every possibility to start being really dynamic after a few years of being relatively passive.

For the Museum and Science Centre Luuppi, the space project for our main destinations (Tietomaa, the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum and the Oulu Museum of Art) is crucial for the cultural life of the city, for the popularization of science as well as for tourism. Many people don’t understand that Finland has only two general science centres, the first of which was opened in Oulu.

Luuppi’s opportunities are unique in our country when we talk about combining science and art, or for example when we think about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), which is now renewing education and teaching.

 

Oulu, together with 32 other municipalities, is bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC). Why would northern Finland be suitable to win the race?

The north has many attractions and distinctions that the rest of Finland doesn’t have. A snowy winter, freezing temperatures, the northern lights and a diverse nature in its entirety, as well as a friendly and hospitable human character are characteristic to us. Oulu is in the middle of Finland and is the undisputed centre of half of the country. Furthermore, we are also excellently connected through different means of public transportation.

 

What does our leading theme, cultural climate change, mean to you?

The traditional way of thinking has been that culture is the first sector where to cut funds when money is short. Now that we are living the second year of an exceptional time globally, the lack of cultural offer has been visible in everyone’s daily life and the media every few days. Maybe all of this has a meaning. When we compare the tourism numbers and financial incomes, as well as people’s well-being indicators of these pandemic times to normal times, decision makers realize what a huge impact culture has – both performing arts and arts at exhibitions, as well as for example science centres – on the overall well-being of people.

 

Send your regards to the Oulu of 2026, when we are the European Capital of Culture

Parochial thinking is not our thing, as we all can be proud of our own role as a European Capital of Culture. In one year, we can do things that can leave a legacy that can be visible for dozens of years. Now is Oulu’s turn!