Summer festivals draw record audiences in Finland
Nearly two million attend events this summer, but not all are paying
"Finns are passionate about summer festivals. Regardless of the weather, summer events have pulled in a record number of audiences. Approximately two million people have enjoyed this summer's festivals", says Director Tuomo Tirkkonen of Finland Festivals.
Founded in 1968, Finland Festivals is the largest domestic cooperative organisation for the main cultural events in the country. Covering all types of art, the organisation has around 80 member festivals, and according to preliminary information, the annual audiences have already amounted to nearly two million.
"This summer's surprises included Sting at the Pori Jazz Festival as well as Tarja Turunen who pulled in new spectators to the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Another surprise was the hot weather, which apparently did not leave the Finns sunbathing at their cottages but attracted them to festivals", Tirkkonen notes.
With 20 years' experience as the director of festivals, Tirkkonen never stops marvelling at the Finns' increasing enthusiasm to attend festivals.
"Finland has a tradition of summer festivals. For example, midsummer festivals are an old tradition that started generations ago. Today, the tradition continues as city festivals. Reportedly, the Finns are more active consumers of various culture events than for example the Swedes or the Irish", Tirkkonen concludes.
The number one event of the summer appears to be the Pori Jazz Festival, which attracted a record paying audience - 156,000 listeners. This was as much as 30 per cent more than last year.
One reason for the huge increase was the adult-oriented rockstar Sting whose appearances brought in over 30,000 people.
Finland's record crowd of the summer was apparently gathered at Kirjurinluoto Arena with around 34,000 listeners attending Sting's concert, according to the organisers. Some 4,000 of the visitors obviously had free tickets.
Even though Tarja Turunen's concerts at the Savonlinna Opera Festival were also sold out, the audiences there were up only some three per cent compared with last year.
Other summer events attracting large audiences were the Kotka Maritime Festival that attracted over 150,000 people, even though the number of actual tickets sold was only 15,000, and the annual Tango Festival in Seinäjoki, in Ostrobothnia, which drew a crowd of 114,000 - slightly fewer than in the last few years.
The Kaustinen Folk Music Festival attracted a total of 85,000 folk and world music lovers, while the number of tickets sold was only 34,000. However, the number of visitors to Kaustinen Folk Music Festival was 16 per cent down on the previous summer.
Many smaller festivals succeeded better than expected.
While the number of visitors to the Helsinki Festival, which ended last Sunday, is not known yet, Tirkkonen estimates that the audiences exceeded last year's 255,000.
On the other hand, with 35,200 visitors this summer, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival pulled some eight per cent fewer listeners than last year.
Even though the number of visitors to summer festival events is on the increase, the share of those spectators who have actually paid for their tickets is a lot smaller than the aggregate number of visitors. According to the preliminary information from Finland Festivals, a total of 460,000 tickets were sold to their festivals, which is as much as 25 per cent fewer than in the previous year.