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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.”

Video and text: Erika Benke