VAPPU/MAY DAY, MAY DAY
Tomorrow will be May Eve, or Valpurgisnacht, or Vappuaatto, depending on your preference.
Whatever term you care to use about it, it signifies Finland's most boisterous and generally extremely liquid festival and carnivalesque gathering, spilling over from the Eve itself into the following May Day, and as a consequence the International Edition will not be appearing on Friday May 1st, but will resurface after the weekend on Monday.
If you live in Finland, you will almost certainly know what Vappu is all about (read the old, old article from 2000 if you are a complete beginner and wish to know about the origins and the traditional rituals), but do please remember that shops and banks will not be open on Friday owing to the holiday. The all-important Alko liquor stores will close at 18:00 on Thursday, so the magic ingredient for the annual event should be secured by then, if that is you can get served for all the queues.
Sales of champagne and sparkling wine go skyrocketing at this time of year.
Bus and train services will also be affected - there will be additional services late on Thursday night for revellers heading home, but Friday will see Saturday or Sunday schedules in force.
Some tram and bus lines in the capital will face diversions on both Thursday evening and on Friday, because of the crowds downtown.
It is a good idea to check from the Finnish Railways (VR) or Helsinki City Transport (HKL) websites below.
As with all public holidays, beware closed shops and services. Supermarkets and other stores are allowed to remain open until 18:00 on Thursday, but will be closed on Friday, with the exception of the stores in the tunnel under Helsinki's main railway station, which will be serving customers until 22:00 on both days, though they only open at 10:00 on Friday.
Banks will be open as normal on Thursday, but will be closed on Friday. ATMs should be working as normal.
Just as we suggest with holidays such as Easter or Christmas, the best advice is to check timetables and opening-times in advance, and if you do plan to go downtown on Thursday or Friday, be prepared for crowds and for large numbers of people who have had an ample sufficiency of the party spirit.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Vappu (an article from 2000 that still gives the basics, even if the some of the links no longer work)
Warm weather favours May Day celebrations in Helsinki (2.5.2008)
VR Finnish Railways (special commuter train schedules for Vappu)
VR Finnish Railways (long-distance schedule alterations)
Helsinki City Transport (HKL)
Finnish Meteorological Institute - Forecast for Helsinki
Havis Amanda (Wikipedia)