Every year in August since 1988 the streets of Helsinki are filled with art enthusiasts, performance lovers and the culturally or otherwise curious, not to mention those who just like to go out, get a bit drunk and join the party. Together with good friends from Sweden we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the event on August 22nd on a tropically warm night. A full moon above the festive city made the evening perfect.
Some 200 free events were staged around Helsinki, both indoors and in the open air, ranging from tattoo demos and Bollywood dance lessons to literary readings, Morris dancing at the FinnBrit (Finnish-British) society and an outdoor screening of a contemporary remake of the opera Don Giovanni. The museums were free and open until late in the evening. The night offered something of interest to everyone, from flashmob type of activities and free concerts, open door events and modern circus performances. You could personally enjoy experiences as diverse as waltzing on the street or grabbing some minutes of fame by publicly performing on an open stage.
This year’s keynote event was the launch of Harmonic Fields on the shoreline, featuring custom-made large-scale instruments designed by French composer Pierre Sauvageot to be eerily ‘played’ by the wind. Some of the instruments were built by members of the public during free workshops held in advance. Hundreds of spectators enjoyed this wonderful and impressive musical installation.
For our small party, this was the perfect opportunity to roam the streets of Helsinki, soak up its culture and be immersed in art in a magical August atmosphere. We went to art museums and galleries and looked at the more or less improvised happenings around town, rounding up the evening with mainstream jazz and Cajun cuisine at a famous jazz restaurant. To my great relief we did not see any drunken disturbances or riots in the streets, just a crowd of happy and perhaps a bit tipsy people. During earlier years, drunkenness was seen as a big problem and a cause for many people not to participate in the event. Police say everything went quite smoothly and peacefully this year as compared to some raucous past years. I remember a year when empty beer bottles were thrown at people in the streets, seriously hurting many persons. May we take this change as an indicator that the use of alcoholic beverages in Finland has become more civilized?
Autumn is already in the air here in our Nordic haunts. We expat ‘almuñequeros’ are looking forward to returning to our dear old Almuñécar, meeting our friends and resuming our activities at Los Nordicos. The library will be open on October 2nd from 16.00 -17.00. The first club meeting will be on October 9th at 17.30 at Hotel Victoria with mingling and presentation of the program for the season. The Golf at Los Moriscos continues on Mondays at 9.30, and the first trekking tour will be on October 17th, with gathering at the market place at 10.00. The trip will go to Lenteji east (6,6 km), degree of difficulty 3. The wine bingo will be on Tuesdays at 12.30 at Hotel Victoria, followed by lunch for those who feel like it. The jazz circle with P-O Larsson on Tuesdays at 18.00 at Mariote will also resume in October. The date will be informed later.