The Top Helsinki Nightlife Attractions for the Party-Going People

With the easy-going summer season now behind us, I decided to write a blog post on the nightlife of my hometown Helsinki. Many hip tourists from abroad visit our beautiful city annually, but not everyone finds the hidden gems of our party scene. It certainly takes some effort to get to know the place and to find your way around to the most established clubs. I like to listen to house and techno, so this post mostly deals with electronic music events and venues.

The photo above is a sneak-peek snapshot from the Ääniwalli. This place must be the best electronic music location in Helsinki for any house and techno lover. Perhaps it suffices to say that only this year, we have had acts such as Âme, DJ Tennis, Recondite, Rødhåd and Matthew Dear perform live at this venue.

Hosted by Lil’ Tony, the Ääniwalli has managed to maintain an aura of authenticity and peace-love-unity-respect -style in partying and atmosphere. A few other clubs I prefer are Siltanen, Kaiku and Kuudes Linja.

The current nightclubs in the center area of Helsinki are hardly worth a mention in this post.

One can hardly start discussing the electronic music scene in Helsinki without the Flow Festival in Suvilahti. I went this year just so I could see Aphex Twin, one of my all-time favourite acts perform live. The gig was an outstanding experience. Prior to the Flow Festival, I think we have only had Aphex Twin visit once.

This year, I was not as appalled as last year about the crowdedness and commercialism of the festival area. However, just to make it to a 1-hour gig of my favourite Warp artist plus to see Maceo Plex and a few other acts perform at the Resident Advisor stage on Friday night, I felt like the overall experience was overpriced.

As the Flow Festival is now the most popular of the hip festival events in Finland, many people seem to forget that we have other similar festivals as well!

And many of these are much more exquisite and comfortable to visit besides the acclaimed Flow Festival.

One of last year’s absolute highlights was the Visio Festival organized in the Teurastamo area of Helsinki.

The Visio Festival is a conceptual, vibrant club music festival focused on left-field top artists from Finland and other Nordic countries. Last year, we got to see Todd Terje with his band perform live along with many other excellent acts. With the Flow Festival being very mainstream and crowded these days, it is safe to say the Visio Festival event was the electronic music highlight of the whole season last summer.

This year, the Visio Festival organization was facing some severe financial challenges. The festival crew pulled the event through, nevertheless. I appreciate that they made it happen despite these obstacles!

The rumour has it that there will be more conceptual electronic music events organized by the Visio crew in the very near future, but it remains to be seen if there will be a festival event of this scale happening next summer. I feel very sorry for this loss, as it seems to me that we need still more events of this type here.

 

The Lowdown on Flow Festival

Last weekend, I went to the Flow Festival 2016 here in Helsinki. The festival venue at Kalasatama area was packed to its maximum capacity for three days.

I found that I did not enjoy the festival nearly as much as during the previous years – in spite of the fact that I spent the time there with my very good friends and I saw many excellent artists – such as Kamasi Washington, Morrissey, M83 and Sia perform live.

Besides the congestion of a huge flock of hipsters, there was another big factor that made me nauseous about the whole event – that is, the very visible and prominent sponsor plots scattered around the festival area.

Because of the crowd, one naturally had to arrive early in order not to miss any of their favourite artists. Upon entering the festival area, you could spot Toyota’s brand new car being promoted much like in a car show, with the addition of selfie-sticks. While proceeding towards the stage, you would proceed through various commercial playgrounds of brands such as Zalando and Lapin Kulta towards the stage, just to look at 20-30 minutes of more ads on the screens besides the stages before any artists even begin to perform.

This year, the festival had 21 sponsors and partners, and in my opinion, that makes way too many, even for an event of this scale.

Attending the event made me wonder what transformed the easy-going and laid-back festival spirit of the previous festival events disappear.

It is quite evident, that this time, the festival organizers simply overdid it as for the sponsor and partnership deals.

Marketing anything to millennials is tricky to begin with, so no wonder things like this happen when a popular festival event organization and a whole bunch of local and global brands are involved. Some brands, such as the local hip media Basso, and Resident Advisor, naturally contributed to the festival event, but as for many others, contributions at the festival area seemed quite irrelevant.

Christine Göös wrote recently in the Kiosked blog that “almost 70% of successful, millennial-targeted campaigns are connected to real life events”.

You can read the full article on millennial marketing online by Christina Göös here: http://blog.kiosked.com/en/the-secret-to-marketing-to-millennials.

Hip events are increasingly being funded via sponsorship deals, and as if that were not enough, local hip events targeted at millennials are now being increasingly created on-demand by big global brands and corporations. Millennials wish to differentiate from their peers and participate in unique events, and they are eager and willing to share the brand content online in the form of photos and videos.

As the majority of millennials – as much as 60% according to some sources – state that they would rather spend money on experiences instead of material goods, this kind of marketing targeted at us makes a lot of sense.

The pitfall here is that the aura of authenticity and originality of the unique experience is lost in case a hip event such as Flow Festival becomes overly commercial.

On Visiting Finland and the Contemporary Finnish Art Scene

As Finland is a remote destination at the outskirts of Europe, we currently only receive approximately 0,4% of all of the travellers worldwide. And most of these travellers only stay for a very short stopover.

However, Visit Finland currently attracts over half a million visitors to its website every month. This goes to show that a staggering figure of annual visitors to the organization’s website must be very interested in Finland as a holiday destination. How to make more of these visitors book a trip here?

I visited Berlin two weeks ago. The city is, of course, one of the most hip destinations in Europe. During my stay there, I visited various sites related to its history, as well as the most popular contemporary art exhibitions currently going on, and many excellent clubs. Perhaps it is the combination of these three types of attractions – historical and cultural, as well as the nightlife – that makes me return there every so often?

I think that Finland, as a holiday destination, caters for many tastes as well, and we can certainly add the spectacular nature to our list of attractions. Now, as the summer is just about to begin, I am looking forward to spending a few weekends at least outside of my hometown Helsinki. For the Midsummer night, there is no better place to be than one with a view on a still lake in the middle of a forest.

But the nightlife scene in Helsinki is hot as well. A few weeks back, we had yet again the Berghain resident Marcel Dettmann playing an excellent 6-hour set in a club in the vicinity of Kallio. And many local artists are a treat for any house or techno lover. Many outstanding festivals for all tastes in music are organized here, the most hip one being the Flow Festival of Suvilahti, and are featured in international travel publications.

For the history and culture lovers, there are many things to experience as well. But perhaps the country brand would benefit of emphasizing the original culture and the excellent contemporary art scene, for example, instead of merely highlighting Suomenlinna Island and other such sites that have more to do with distant events of the past? Helsinki currently has several exhibitions going on that feature contemporary art’s finest international figures, such as Neto and Weiwei.

While I mention that, the Finnish contemporary artist scene is well worth getting acquainted with! Anssi Kasitonni, one of my favourite Finnish artists, is curating this year’s Mänttä Art Festival, first organized in 1993. Being the most hip annual art event outside of Helsinki, this festival that has a history of over 20 years is a must-see. Certainly worth travelling all the way to Mänttä!

And if you should miss that, the contemporary art festival ARS 17 will be taking over Kiasma next year.

The ARS festivals, much like the Documenta in Kassel, have a history ranging back to the turbulent 1960s and 1970s.

While the Documenta will be open in Kassel again the same year, and will certainly yet again be an event beyond comparison most likely attracting over one million art tourists worldwide, I suggest visiting the ARS festival in Helsinki as well. Kiasma will also be the partner organization of Frame Finland during next year’s Venice Biennale.

In two weeks, Visit Finland will organize a seminar related to travel and the field of culture. I will be attending the seminar, and I am very much looking forward to it. The CEO of Creative Tourism Barcelona, Caroline Couret, will be giving a keynote talk, and there will be workshops on the topic, one of them being on contemporary art and country image and facilitated by the Museum Director of Kiasma, Leevi Haapala.