Uisge is back!

Our favorite whiskey event, Uisge, is coming again next February.

IMG_8969.jpgIn case you’re out and about in Helsinki around mid-February (9-10 to be exact), tickets are on pre-sale at seamchip.fi/uisge.

You won’t regret paying the event a visit. The way we see it, this would also make fine Xmas present for a whiskey-loving loved one. Stay tuned, we’ll post more when we learn more. In the meantime, why not check out what we wrote on our previous visits.

Make sure to check out fellow our whiskey lover’s blog on the subject as well: Viskisieppo

Night of the Arts 2017 / Taiteiden Yö 2017 in Helsinki

Just a quick note reminding about Taiteiden Yö (Night of the Arts) that’s celebrated today allover Helsinki. It’s an annual art festival as a part of Helsinki Festival, a series of different kinds of events during August.

This year I haven’t had the time to actually plan on what to do and where to go but I was planning on seeing at least these ones:

  1. The Secret Garden on Senate Square

Last year this garden was almost next door from my home and the atmosphere was very cosy and nice. They had workshops for kids, couple of bands and artists playing on the garden and some snacks available. This year the Secret Garden will be built to Senate Square so hopefully they will manage to make it as magical as last year.

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The Secret Garden in Helsinki in 2016

2. One Pint Pub: Bellydance, Blues and Jazz

Not really interested in bellydance but this is our local with an amazing selection of craft beers all over the world. Support your local!

4. Mattolaituri night of arts

If the weather is good (as it should be), I think I’ll take my city bike (the yellow Alepa-bikes I wrote about in May) and make a short tour around the city. One of the pit stops will most likely be Mattolaituri in Kaivopuisto park to listen to some DJ’s and see their light installations. I can imagine it to be pretty cool in a dark August night.

-Marjo

 

 

Best Music Festival in Helsinki: Flow

Flow 2016

Flow is definitely coming – less than a month and the best music festival of Finland (even Nordics?) is here! Flow is music festival here in Helsinki and it is ALWAYS a weekend when we’ll send our kids to their grandparents and spend our weekend listening music and enjoying great Flow-feeling with our dear friends at festival. Since we are living in downtown Helsinki we’ll invite friends over for whole weekend to sleep, enjoy breakfast and preparty listening best artists from flow-app before entering to festival.

Flow is in Suvilahti, Helsinki. Place is easier to understand when I tell it is in Kallio-area near to metro station Sörnäinen. Kallio is 2-3 kilometers from Stockmann/Railway station so really in downtown. Easiest way to get there is to bike (there is a “bike lot” in front of festival with thousands of bikes, love it!) but if you don’t have one just walk or take metro or tram 7A/7B/6 (step out from tram also in Sörnäinen).

Festival area itself is a pearl – location is just great and old pretty buildings and gas holder creates a “post industrial feeling” which ensures atmosphere is just perfect. Festival is pretty trendy place – you can see beautiful people wearing interesting cloths (no heels however since best to walk around with flats) and you can taste different delicious foods. There is always also art, this year video installationsOf course the main point is music – there are several stages with different artists all the time. This year I am waiting most for Lana Del Rey, London Grammar and always so great Alma (a Finn you should listen a bit right away if you don’t know her!).  Age limit to festival is 18, I would say most people are 30-45 years.

Days for festival this year are 11-13.8.2017. If you plan to enjoy the festival, I suggest you buy your tickets now since normally at least some days are sold out well in advance (however not yet when I am writing this). More information of festival you find here. There are lots of information also in English. Also I guess – since me and my friends Anne and Marjo love Flow festival so much, we’ll write more about this before the festival.

Pictures here are from last year.

Anna

Midsummer in Helsinki – what to do?

 

Today 23.6.2017 we have midsummer celebration here in Finland. This midsummer celebration is called Juhannus in Finnish. It will last all weekend and target is to enjoy summer and sun shining through the night. Since I am supposed to tell you what locals do during Juhannus I do it right in the beginning: almost all locals (I would say more than 70 % of Helsinkians but this is just wild guess) will travel out of Helsinki. We Finns believe right place to celebrate Juhannus is in summer cottage. Helsinki will be very empty and very different from normal during this weekend. So, this time I will tell you what tourists can do during Juhannus if in Helsinki. These things are of course also things what those few Helsinkians might do if in Helsinki during Juhannus weekend. And then – I am also traveling outside Helsinki this afternoon but I did some running first in the morning. There in Kauppatori (the big market square just opposite the President Castle) I saw former Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen. So after all, some very essential Helsinkians are spending their Juhannus here!

Right picture above you see something very essential of Juhannus – kokko in Finnish, bonfire in English. It is burned in the Friday evening. This kokko I took picture is situated next to Cafe Ursula. The address is Ehrenströmintie 3, that is by the see in Southern Helsinki, maybe 2 kilometers south from Railways station. Very nice walk from downtown – many parks. Kokko will be burned 9.30 pm and Cafe Ursula will be open during Juhannus weekend – so it is a great place to find some Juhannus feeling! Another great place to sense traditional Juhannus feeling is Seurasaari. There will be bonfire and old Finnish celebration traditions today from 4 pm until late night. Tickets there are 23 euros (kids under 12 years are free). Seurasaari doesn’t really have an address since it is small island. Google so you’ll see where it is. It is like 5 kilometers from downtown Helsinki. You can take bus number 24 to travel there.

Probably most “Helsinkian” thing to do in Helsinki today and tomorrow is to go to this dancing event – Juhannustanssit in Finnish. It is not disco dancing but more like fox, twist, Finnish disco and some new Finnish hits as well. My guess is (never been but sounds fun!) that there are lots of 25-50 years old downtown people who go there every year. This happening is organized by We love Helsinki -collective and it is situated in Kallio district at Kuudes linja and Kaiku (address Kaikukatu 4). Juhannustanssit is happening both Friday and Saturday from 9 pm until 4 am. Even you absolutely can’t dance I still recommend it!

And what about Saturday and Sunday? Most shops will be closed and town continues to be very empty. My recommendation is to visit Allas Sea Pool (picture below but very bad quality – in reality it looks a lot better!) which is combined restaurant and outside pool. You find there also saunas and it will be open during Juhannus. Great views of Helsinki when swimming in (warm) pool – I highly recommend that!

Anna

 

First of May in Helsinki: best ways to celebrate May Day (vappu in Finnish)

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Best carneval time in Helsinki (and in Finland) is around first of May. Celebration starts already some days before – you can see groups of students wearing haulers. However, the real “vappu” and big celebration starts early evening of 30th of April. At 6 pm thousands of people want to see when statue Havis Amanda (situated between Kauppatori and Park Esplanad) will receive her “graduation cap”. After that as well as before there will be thousands of people in down town Helsinki celebrating. Most people wear their “graduation caps” (but only after 6 pm), drink sparkling wine and buy some air balloons. Overall feeling is positive and springish (even it would not be warm and sunny at all) and bars are very crowded. Recommend to be somewhere near Havis Amanda around 6 pm and after that visit at least Senaatintori and arounds. After these “must dos” you can have fun evening in bars – but it will be very crowded everywhere. However – don’t party too late since best part of May Day celebrations happens first of May.

 

First of May it is best to be in Ullanlinna (Ullis) and Kaivopuisto (Kaivari) already 9 am (doesn’t matter even you are not looking your best and smelling a bit of sparkling wine) since there will be choir singing and May Day celebration “officially” begins. All the day long there will be thousands and thousands of people having picnics and wondering around. You should have your own picnic snacks with you as well as some sparkling wine since there is not restaurants – idea is to have those with you. Everyone just spends the day meeting friends and having fun. Students were haulers, almost everyone have their “graduation hats” (but you can come without – no problem) and children have their balloons – what a perfect day! Remember to wear warm cloths since Kaivopuisto is next to sea – there can be very cold. See you in Kaivari on Monday!

Anna

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Uisge 2017 — Helsinki Whiskey Festival is back in February

To savor some of the best whiskies around Living in HEL will be visiting the Uisge festival on 10 to 11 February 2017 — just like last year, and many a year before that.

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Traditionally, Uisge has been the “it” event for Finnish friends of all things whisky — Scotch, Irish, Bourbon, Rye, Japanese, Swedish, Finnish. But especially Single Malt lovers.

The atmosphere is always nice, and surprisingly non-commercial. And that’s saying a lot, when all the big brands are present. It’s not a big bash, more like a low key, very enjoyable event, a meeting of minds with a fantastic, laid-back atmosphere. Everybody’s here for one reason only – the love of Uisce Beatha.

A few whisk(e)y societies will also be present, including the Finnish Malt Whisky Society and the more elusive Friends of Irish Whiskey. If you’re looking to enjoy sampling superb whiskies later in the year, as well, both organize tastings, trips to distilleries and more — and will be looking for new members.

 


If you’re like us, do come early, come on Friday and bring along a friend. Also, a notepad to jot down your favorites is recommended, because this being Scandinavia, you wouldn’t be able to buy a bottle of your newest favorite even if you tried.

IMG_3433.JPGThe tastings also have a stellar reputation both taste-wise and information-wise. Enquire ahead at uisge2016(at)yahoo.com (mention you’re of age and want to have this information).

Tix are available here for 18€ per day. Smart money is on buying in advance, Uisge usually gets crowded so tickets may or may not be available at the door.

The price of the entry fee includes a custom-printed nosing glass and the sampling prices are more than reasonable, even for the rarest bottling. Ice water is complimentary, so you can clean your palate and glass in between sampling a drop of the pure.

Like we said last year, a night at Uisge is guaranteed to leave you smiling what with all the socializing, sampling and good-hearted stories — and the whiskey, of course.

 

Sláinte!

Venue & event links

 

ps. From what we know, bottlings, specials and vintage editions,  favorites old & new will be available from at least the following:
Aberlour, Ailsa Bay, Arran, Auchentoshan, Balblair, the Balvenie, Blackadder, Bowmore, Buffalo Trace, Bunnahabhain, Bushmills, Chivas Regal, The Compass Box, Cragganmore, Douglas LaingHunter Laing, Edradour, Four Roses, Glen Moray, Glen Scotia, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Glengoyne, Glengyle, the Glenlivet, Hart Brothers, Helsinki Distilling Company, Highland Park, Jameson, Jura, Kilchoman, Knob Creek, Kyrö Distillery, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Loch Lomond, Maker’s Mark, MidletonMortlach, Old Pulteney, Redbreast, Sazerac, Springbank, Talisker, Teerenpeli, Tobermory, Tullamore Dew, Valamo Monastery DistilleryThe Whisky Agency, and more… Some high quality rums will also  be available.

For a more complete and likely more up-to-the-minute list, see the Viskisieppo blog.

Best Helsinki Christmas Market – Tuomaan Markkinat

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Anne wrote some weeks ago about Christmas Bazaars here in Helsinki. I think the best bazaar is Tuomaan Markkinat, which is situated in Senaatintori (along the Aleksanterinkatu). It is very beautiful place – Helsinki Cathedral is just next as well as Helsinki University and other old picturesque buildings. At Tuomaan Markkinat I recommend to stroll around and admire all different handicrafts, Christmas foods and Finnish specialities. Many of them are very reasonably priced so you can also buy great gifts for Christmas. If you have kids, they should try carousel. And when feeling cold, try some warm drinks!

 

Tuomaan Markkinat will be open until 22nd of December so there are still some days left. This time I bought some woolen stockings – very warm and useful for those cold winter days we are still waiting for.

Merry Christmas for everyone!

Anna

senaatintori-tuomaan-markkinat-helsinki

 

 

 

Helsinki Christmas bazaars 2016

Helsinki is full of Christmas bazaars from November to December. You’ll find unique hand-made gifts, souveniers, high quality design, traditional pastries and much more in these events. Here are cople of tips where to go for Christmas bazaar shopping in Helsinki.

Tuomaan markkinat
In 2015, the Huffington Post ranked Helsinki Christmas Market among the 15 European Christmas markets we love to love.
In the centre of Helsinki, Senate Square
3.-22.12.2016
Mon-Fri 11am-8pm
Sat and Sun 10am-7pm

Vanhan Joulutori at the historic Vanha ylioppilastalo
Finnish handicrafts by Finnish designers and artisans.
Mannerheimintie 3
17.-22.12.2016
Mon – Fri 11am-8pm
Sat and Sun 11am-6pm
Fri Dec 23rd 11am-6pm

Korjaamo
You’ll find more international flavours in this market. Australia, Italy and India are present together with Finnish products.
Kulttuuritehdas Korjaamo
Töölönkatu 51 a-b
26.-27.11. and 10.-11.12.2016 11am-5pm

Ornamo Design Christmas Market
A selection of high quality design and handicrafts by professional designers
Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1, Helsinki
2.-4.12.2016, Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat and Sun 10pm-6pm

Women’s Christmas Fair
You will find hand-knit and embroidered Christmas decorations, pottery, jewelry, candles, leather and wood products and much more.
Pikku Satamakatu 3-5
2.-6.12.2016
Fri 2.12. 11am-7pm
Sat-Mon 3.-5.12. 10am-6pm
Tue 6.12. 10am-5pm

 

tuomaan_markkinatTuomaan markkinat. Picture: Jussi Hellsten

Helsinki football scene

My name is Lassi and I will be contributing about subjects that inspire me in Helsinki. Without much reasoning, it is easy to start with one of the more romantic businesses of Helsinki, the Helsinki football scene.

Finns are known for their passion for ice hockey, motorsports and ski jumping – namely the sports that Finland has historically had the most success in. Football at top level in Finland, despite of being the most widely practiced sport in terms of registered players, still falls drastically behind ice hockey in public appeal. I guess this is due to ill-advised presumption of low quality of football in the Finnish top flight, Veikkausliiga. While the quality of football in Veikkausliiga may not match that of top European leagues, it is in my view, fairly similar to Swedish Allsvenskan or Norwegian Tippeligaen.

It is the football culture and match day experience, not the sheer quality of football per se, where Veikkausliiga lags behind other Nordic football leagues. During the last couple of seasons, however, Veikkausliiga matches have attracted bigger crowds and increased media attention. Indeed, nowhere has the recent ascension of Veikkausliiga been more prevalent than in Helsinki.

For decades HJK (Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi), the biggest and most successful football club in Finland, was the only Helsinki based team in Veikkausliiga. HJK’s loneliness came to an end in 2014 as HIFK (Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna, Helsingfors) achieved promotion to Veikkausliiga after some 43 years of absence from the top tier.

HJK, founded in 1907 and nicknamed Klubi, has won the Finnish title 27 times. HJK was the first (and thus far the only) Finnish side to qualify for group stages of European competitions; Champions league in 1997-98 and Europa League in 2014-15. HJK is widely supported in Töölö, Meilahti and some southern parts of Helsinki city area.

HIFK (or I.F.K), founded in 1987, is one of the biggest sporting clubs in Finland. HIFK ice hockey team is probably the most widely supported sports team in Finland. Although HIFK is widely supported across demographics in Helsinki, HIFK has significant amount of supporters in Swedish speaking Finns. HIFK was initially a thriving force in the top tier of Finnish football in the 20th century; it won seven titles and was the runner-up further seven times. However, in the early 1970s HIFK got relegated and sank to lower divisions. Thereafter HIFK lived subdued life at amateur divisions with an odd visit to first division, finally ending in bankruptcy in 2003. After these misfortunes, HIFK football managed to build a solid organization and started climbing up the ladders of Finnish football hierarchy. In 2015, after 43 years of wait, the original Helsinki derby (“Stadin Derby”), between HJK and HIFK, was played in front of lively sold-out crowd.

Both HJK and HIFK play their home games at Sonera Stadium in Taka-Töölö (Urheilukatu 5). The stadium has a capacity of roughly 11 000 with HJK usually attracting crowds of around 5 000 and HIFK a bit less. The two HJK supporter groups, Sakilaiset, an ultra-style mob and ForzaHJK, a more traditional section, are seated at the South-End of the stadium (“Klubipääty”). HIFK supporters, Stadin Kingit, sit at the opposing North-End (“IFK Klacken”). Sonera Stadium might not be the most picturesque of football grounds but its virtue lies in its location at the heart of the city (some 15 min walk from Central Railway Station). No alcohol is allowed at the stands (an envious ode to Bundesliga) but you can down your halftime refreshments by stadium kiosks inside the ground.

With the exceptions of Stadin Derby matches that are usually sold-out at least some days before kick-off, tickets for other Veikkausliiga matches can be conveniently purchased from the entrance gates. Depending on the choice of section in the stands, tickets usually go for 15 – 40 EUR. All Veikkausliiga matches are perfectly suitable for the whole family, so do not hesitate to bring your kids. If you fancy a pre-match pint go for Viisi Penniä pub (Mannerheimintie 55) or Restaurant Hook (Mannerheimintie 37).

Veikkausliiga matches in Helsinki offer a likeable, no-frills alternative for modern football. For anyone with a slightest of interest in football, I definitely recommend attending Sonera Stadium for a beautiful game.

Music Festivals in HEL – Tuska

The other high-class gem of Summer, besides the world-famous Flow, is all metalheads’ perennial favorite — Tuska Open Air Metal Festival.  Both events take place in the same venue, Suvilahti a few kilometers to the north and east of city center. Drawing a crowd of around 30.000, it’s now in its 18th year and a perfect way to kick off the summer vacay season.

There’s something magical about the mix of a brightly sunlit summer day and a constant battery  of death, black, grind, thrash, industrial, old school metal and more from three stages — two big ones and a club.

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With Finland being the most metal country in the world it’s perhaps no wonder Tuska works as well as it does. Every year, bands ranging from the experimental to the obscure, from home-grown favorites to chart-toppers, there’s something for everyone.

Given the urban setting, everything is easily accessible, facilities from bars to shops to food are great, plus there are no muddy fields with tents. After a day of moshing to the best, you still have time to hit the bars.

IMG_3189.JPGIMG_3133.JPGIMG_2963.JPGWhat’s more, the city edicts finally allow the bands to play until midnight on Fri & Sat. If you’re in town already the week before, there’s extra gigs all week, and after-festival clubs, too.

Check out the lineup from http://www.tuska-festival.fi/en/schedule — it’s on this year from 1 to 3 July.

Oh, and senior citizens get free entry.

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