Oulu was recently elected the European Capital of Culture, which will give us the opportunity to enjoy its growing and enhanced cultural offerings. The European Capital of Culture programme can also be seen in the production of the largest music festival in Northern Finland, as Oulu2026 and Qstock will start a partnership that will expand even beyond the festival area and reach all the way to Linnansaari.
The collaboration between Qstock and Oulu2026 allows us to enjoy an atmospheric Oulu2026 park, where visitors can sample great food and enjoy a great programme even before the official Qstock weekend starts. This partnership can also be seen in the festival area: the traditional Oulu stage will be transformed into an Oulu2026 stage.
Relaxation in the lounge and a festival feeling on the Oulu2026 stage
This summer, the authentic Qstock feeling starts even before the festival gates open, when the atmospheric Oulu2026 park opens its doors to the public in Linnansaari on Thursday 28 July. The area is a perfect spot for visitors to sit down, take a break and enjoy the foods of the Arctic Food Lab, the products of local small breweries and the varied cultural selection on offer.
“The Oulu2026 park is open to all without an entrance fee, and no festival ticket or any other entrance ticket is required from the visitors. The park is a lounge-type area where people can come and take a break from the bustle of the festival at any time. The park opening ceremony will be held on the Thursday before the festival weekend. In addition to varied food and beverage offerings, the Linnansaari area will also feature participatory art and live music,” says producer Heikki Myllylahti.
Apart from the lounge area, the partnership will also be seen inside the festival, as the traditional Oulu stage will be transformed into an Oulu2026 stage. According to Myllylahti, the idea behind the stage programme is to highlight local talents, but the repertoire can also be taken in a more international direction in the future. This year’s performers on the Oulu2026 stage include names such as Hegemonia, Survive the Silence, The Southgates, Sky Fighters, Fatal Effect, Good Luck Million, Kas Kan, Moskah and Aamun Kuningatar.
“The European Capital of Culture initiative is especially well known for the various events offered, but it is fantastic that this partnership also allows the wider public to sample the offerings of the Arctic Food Lab, for example. We want to offer both locals and international visitors experiences of Northern Finland that cannot be experienced anywhere else,” Myllylahti says.
In the Air – Felt by a number of people to be happening, or about to happen.
In co-operation with the Oulu2026 –organisation the Art Ii Biennial will present an afternoon of art and art/science discussions in Ii, Thursday 16th June. The event will highlight the art and science collaborations of the Biennial.
Hanna Husbergs and Agata Marzecovas project Towards Atmospheric Care provokes discussions over the quality of our collective atmosphere and explores air as a naturalcultural and technoecological phenomenon situated in the nexus of media, science and technological mediation.
Husbergs and Marzecovas performative lecture “A is for Aurora, C is for Care” opens the discussion on air and the sense of change ‘in the air’. Husbergs and Marzecovas claim is, that if we are to form meaningful engagements with air, we need to radically and collectively experiment with thought and practice that position the planetary atmosphere as a shared and indisciplinary concern.
The lecture is followed by a panel discussion with international artists and curators of the Biennial reflecting on air in a way that transcends the isolating effects of data. In the panel we will discuss air as our common human, animal and plant lifesource, which must be accorded a global significance. Art and science collaborations play some part in putting collective responsibility in the air—a crucial goal for the 2020s and beyond.
The panelists: Tina-Marie Friedrich, Hanna Husberg, Agata Marzecova, Gabi Schaffner, Filips Stanislavskis, Minna Rainio, Mark Roberts. Moderator: Jetta Huttunen.
During the event the visitors have a chance to see all the Biennial works situated in Ii.
We offer a free bus connection from Oulu to Ii and back.
Timetable / Thursday 16th June 2-8 pm:
2 pm: Starting from Oulu, Kulttuuritalo Valve (Hallituskatu 7) to KulttuuriKauppila
3 pm: Arriving at KulttuuriKauppila: Gallery exhibition in KulttuuriKauppila (Kauppilantie 15)
4 pm: Gallery exhibitions in Old Hamina (Haminantie 17)
4.30 pm: Ecouteriat: Acoustic walk exercise OR Visit to the Environmental Art Park
5 pm Nättepori: coffee break and snacks (Puistotie 1)
5.15 pm: Performative lecture at Nättepori auditorium: A is Aurora C is for Care/Towards Atmospheric Care (Husberg & Marzecova) + Panel discussion: In the Air. Context and Change in the nexus of Art, Science and the environment.
Oulu is covered with snow for an average of five months a year. Organising outdoor events is a challenge in this climate: freezing temperatures and limited daylight make most people think twice before they venture outside to see a concert or a play.
Oulu2026 will offer a wide range of cultural programmes in snow and ice and organisers are confident that they’ll find ways to attract an audience even when temperatures drop to minus 25 ºC
Watch the video to find out more about Oulu2026’s winter plans.
“Arctic activities and an Arctic twist is a big thing in the cultural programme of Oulu2026,” says Programme Director Samu Forsblom, “it’s all about joy and fun in snow and ice.”
Oulu is in a unique position among European capitals of culture: it still has four seasons.
Winters have warmed up considerably in most of Europe over the last ten years which resulted in the disappearance of snow in many countries.
Climate change has affected Oulu, too: temperatures were unseasonably high in December 2019 and January 2020, with rain rather than snow falling. So Oulu2026 can’t take snow for granted: therefore each event that’s centred around snow will have a plan B.
“Oulu2026 will address issues surrounding climate change. One of our flagship programmes is Climate Clock: it’s about how art shows our changing environment and reminds us what actions are needed to protect the planet,” explains Samu.
Another major winter event is Frozen People. It will be held in on the frozen sea ice in Nallikari – home to Oulu’s kitesurfing community whose displays of speed and acrobatics provide a beautiful spectacle to visitors throughout the winter.
Kitesurfers will surely make an appearance at Frozen People but the event’s key attractions will be electronic music concerts and art installations on the ice.
There’s even a plan to put a stage on an ice carousel. And it’s not just any ice carousel: weather and ice permitting, the plan is to create the world’s biggest ice carousel that will gently spin musicians and audience around in a vast frozen space.
Oulu2026 aims to be the most sustainable European Capital of Culture yet and each event has its own sustainability guidelines.
“In Frozen People, visitors will be encouraged to push the pedals on stationary bikes to generate electricity to light installations. The event will also have its own hybrid power plant.”
Samu is convinced that in winter 2026, residents and visitors will have culture, art and a lot of fun in a beautiful frozen landscape.
“Finns are out cross-country skiing every day in winter. You can do anything in Oulu: it’s only a question of wearing the right clothes.”
Finland will take the cultural centre stage in Europe in 2026 as the City of Oulu, together with 32 municipalities in Northern Finland, holds the title of the European Capital of Culture 2026. The year will be full of inspiring, diverse and unique cultural offerings delivered by thousands of contributors from all over the world.
The Open Call for international partners of the Oulu 2026 cultural programme will be launched in October 2022. The preliminary announcement of the Open Call is available on the Oulu2026 website www.oulu2026.eu/en/opencall The information event in English for the first Open Call is held via Zoom on 13th of June 2022 at 1 p.m. (Helsinki, UTC+3).
The 2026 cultural programme is international
The goal of Oulu2026 is to achieve a permanent cultural climate change and to use culture to fuel positive development in Northern Finland. The Oulu2026 programme is built around three themes: Wild City, Cool Contrasts and Brave Hinterland. The Open Call launched on 3 October 2022 is aimed at projects related to these themes.
Samu Forsblom, Oulu2026 Programme Director, recommends that all applicants familiarise themselves with the Bid Book and the themes.
“We are looking for unique projects with far-reaching impacts. Combining art and technology and artistic experiences created through this process are of particular interest to us. We hope that the projects are delivered in collaboration with contributors based in the Oulu2026 region,” says Samu Forsblom.
The operative focus of the projects is on the capital of culture year 2026 but they may be launched earlier.
The Open Call for applications in October is open to Finnish and international actors. The project plans are expected to be suitable for independent delivery.
The application forms are available from 3 October 2022 onwards, but the application criteria have already been published on the website www.oulu2026.eu/en/opencall. More detailed information and instructions for the applicants will be published on the same website in the autumn.
The Open Call closes on 9 December 2022. The information event for the first Open Call (in English) is held via Zoom on 13th of June 2022 at 1 p.m. (Helsinki, UTC+3). REGISTER HERE
Folk music and folkdance day is celebrated again on May 14th in Finland.
Are you interested in Finnish folk music and folk dance, curious to find out more about the “kantele”, the “jouhikko” or national costumes in Finland? What on earth is a “mänkeri” and how many languages is the Finnish national epoch Kalevala translated into?
Folk music and folk dance in Finland embraces a broad spectrum of different music and dance styles. Ancient runo song tradition co-exists with younger pelimanni music traditions. Many regions have their own strong traditions, such as the fiddle playing in the Kaustinen area, the minuet tradition in Ostrobothnia or the Carelian ripaska dance. Many national minorities also have their own traditions, among them the Sámi people, the Roma and the Swedish-speaking minority. Read more here
Especially during the Summer Finland is a country of festivals, with bigger events in many regions. One of the most famous is Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, but there are many other options as well. During the winter folk music and folk dance can be experienced at different kinds of clubs and there are also many kind of courses available. Outside Finland Finnish folk music and folk dance is performed regularly – especially in the music field many artists are internationally well-known.
It might be the crash course in Finnish folk dancing you took at your local village fiesta that stuck in your mind. Or, more likely, it’s because the Oulu-based folk music group Rällä, with local musicians, composed a unique anthem for your village that proudly gets played at every suitable opportunity.
The Village Anthems project will send Rällä to 5 villages around the Oulu2026 project area and another 5 out into the far hinterlands of Europe, each seeking to get their own Cultural Climate Change underway. Each village will get their own communal celebration and anthem, based on studies of local stories, history and future visions.
Our Cultural Personality of the week is Anna-Mari or Ansku Nousiainen, who describes herself in her Instagram bio as: “Failed film-maker, mediocre artist and soon-to-become bad tattoo artist.” Ansku confirms she is all that but also a lot more. At least, a loyal hype girl, pathetic softie, a bit tough, but deep down a really sensitive soul.
Ansku dreamt of becoming an artist since primary school, but her career in film happened accidentally. After finishing upper secondary school, the doors to the art schools did not open and, in panic, Ansku applied to any further education programme that mentioned the word culture or media. Sitting at the entrance interview for Salpaus Further Education, Ansku was wondering why on earth they were asking strange questions about XLR cables and connections and tried to steer the interview towards comics. Eventually the interviewers asked, “You do know this is an audio-visual media programme?”.
Ansku had thought she had applied to the graphic design programme, so thinking on her feet, quickly replied, “Yes, I LOVE cinema!”
Miraculously, Ansku was accepted and was later able to study film and work in the industry. Throughout her studies, however, Ansku also studied and worked with art and insisted on calling herself an artist.
Today, Ansku makes art across disciplines and her career is currently in transition. Ansku has moved from film more towards festival work, and in her artistic work she has expanded into photography, video and installations as well as 3D and audio works. Stories, not just showing them but also telling them, are at the core of Ansku’s work.
This spring, Ansku is mostly focusing on her role as the artistic director of the Oulu Music Video Festival, which brings all her professional interests together. Ansku has always loved music videos and is a complete “music video freak”. When she realised she, too, could be making music videos, there was no turning back. Ansku started attending the Oulu Music Video Festival (OMVF) first as a video maker and, inspired by the event, she launched a small Musavideorama music video event in Tampere together with Anna Alkiomaa. Recently, OMVF was looking for a new artistic director, Jaakko Mattila, who was leaving the role, suggested to Ansku that she should apply. Ansku has been working as the artistic director of OMVF since 2019.
You have just moved to Oulu from Helsinki. Tell us more! How did you come to that decision? How does it feel now, to live in Oulu?
Many people have asked me “Why would anyone move from Helsinki to Oulu?”. I could write an essay or a short story about it, but I think I’ll just settle for a short “Why not?”. Helsinki was cold and I was longing for something else. I have managed to travel to Oulu once a month for an entire autumn and winter, for one week at a time, so I thought Oulu could could just as well be my home and I could travel from here. I was nervous about the move mainly because my friends mostly live in the south, but people did support my decision! I have always travelled a lot all over Finland, so this was not as radical a choice as it may sound. My mum agreed with my decision and said “It’s great that things are happening elsewhere as well, not just in Helsinki!” My home has always been critical of Helsinki-centredness and I guess that has rubbed off on me.
My relationship with Oulu was purely the result of the music video festival – first as a visitor, then getting more involved with the event and now finally as the artistic director. I have no family here, and before the festival, I didn’t know anyone in Oulu. Through the festival, I had quickly built a very close circle of people and relationships that are important to me. I called it my music video family, and I started spending more and more time here outside my work as well. Summer 2021 was probably the turning point when my thoughts came together. Elektorni, festivals and events, perfect rollerblading routes and bright summer nights completely charmed me. Oulu was flirting with me like nobody or no other place has ever done before!
I must say that the campaign to get me to Oulu was persistent but subtle (these people are professionals after all!) and eventually very successful. So here I am! As my friend Vilma said: “There must be something very special about Oulu for you of all people to move here!”
What are you up to these days? How do you spend your spare time?
I’m great! I moved here about a month ago, so I’ve mainly been tidying up my place, nest building (and building my doll’s house) and hanging around vintage markets (Oulu has the best vintage markets, I have found the best pyjamas, mesh tops, china and homeware here). The first two weeks I spent just unpacking and decorating my place, and the pastel colour scheme is almost ready. It’s time to move my focus to day-to-day life, and at this time of the year this includes writing grant applications.
I was hoping that after unpacking all my stuff I would be just organising my china, lying in bed and drinking endless cups of coffee in the morning. And that’s precisely what I’ve done all February! I’ve found it difficult to read for the past couple of years, but since I moved, I’ve found myself with a book in my hand every day!
This month’s book and other spring-time tips:
Syyskirja by Johanna Venho
Travelling Light by Tove Jansson
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
And so as not to sound more intellectual than I am, I have also been obsessing about the reality TV show Too Hot To Handle. To the point that I’ve found out which of the couples are still together… I never used to watch reality TV but then I came across Fboy Island on HBO and I was hooked!
I am also trying to rest more this spring, before the summer’s hectic festival season begins.
What does our leading theme, Cultural Climate Change, mean to you?
Climate change as a term is quite dramatic and of course we associate it with the state of our environment and it makes us worry about the future. I have long been a huge fan of domestic travel and I think that surprisingly few people in Finland have travelled widely in their own country. I really want to encourage everyone to embrace the idea of cultural climate change, and if there was anything positive about the coronavirus pandemic, I would hope it is people discovering domestic travel. For example, the Bättre Folk festival draws wide audiences from outside Oulu, which only goes to show that distance is not an issue. After all, people travel abroad to go to festivals.
As a term alone, climate change is shocking in a negative sense while cultural climate change to me means openness, kindness, collaboration and lack of prejudice.
What is it like to work in Northern Finland? How do you find Oulu at this present time?
I think Oulu is a perfect size to work (and to live!). You can make things happen and people seem very open to cooperation and new experiences.
I am constantly positively surprised how I don’t have to spend all day commuting and dealing with some complicated issue, as was the case in Helsinki. I love it that getting about without a car is so easy and quick. The city centre is very compact and I absolutely love that about Oulu! As a festival organiser (and visitor!) this is a real positive – people can easily attend several events in one day and with effective marketing, the pre and post-festival parties can also be squeezed in the same night!
Oulu is like a big park, in a good way. The woods and water are never far away. I am impressed by how many accessible, non-commercial spaces there are in the city centre where people can meet up and spend time.
For most of my career I have worked in Northern Finland during the pandemic, which of course has had an effect on what working in the cultural and festival sector has been like for me. I would like to see more cooperation between event organisers in events marketing (we should have our own Oulu Hypend!). I think there are a lot more young party- and festival-goers that we are not yet reaching. It is also interesting how easy it is to travel from here to Sweden and Norway overland! It will be exciting to see how the connections between the neighbouring countries are utilised in the Capital of Culture project.
What will Oulu look and feel like in 2026? How do you think the Capital of Culture title will impact Northern Finland?
It feels a bit wild to think that far ahead at the moment! I hope that Oulu presents itself as the lovely green city that it is, where the sun is shining and people are busy going to events. I hope to see an even livelier and more accessible, diverse and open-minded urban culture.
I would like to be shocked about how many of my friends have never been to Oulu, but then again, before the music video festival, neither had I. But that shows we should never underestimate the power of culture! I believe that the Capital of Culture title will encourage us to build new networks, venture into unknown territories and organise even more and more diverse events.
I also think that the impact will be seen in Oulu residents learning to appreciate their city and the region more, and in that the appeal of Oulu will be noticed further afield that in Northern Finland alone.