Biggest ever Espoo Day attracts 75,000 visitors to nearly 300 events
On the last weekend of August, the Espoo summer season culminated in an urban celebration for the entire community. To mark 100 years of Finnish independence, this year’s Espoo Day was bigger than ever before, making it one of the largest of the series of Together events organised across Finland as part of the centenary celebrations. A team of more than 3,000 people were involved in creating Espoo Day, successfully delivering nearly 300 events for visitors. In total, the weekend saw a record-breaking 75,000 people enjoy the event across the city.
Celebrations kick off on Friday
The first Espoo Day events got underway early at 9 o’clock in the morning, with a movie picnic at Karatalo attracting hundreds of young and enthusiastic Moomin fans. A Tour de Espoo car circulated around the city centre, handing out balloons, sharing event information and causing general delight with the Ruffle Army’s giant soap bubbles.
Tapiola Sport Park hosted the Tallink Tournament, Europe’s largest junior basketball championships. In total, 898 matches were played over the weekend. The event attracted more than 4,000 athletes, breaking all previous visitor records along the way.
The Children’s Cultural Centre Little Aurora, Espoo City Museum and Exhibition Centre WeeGee all joined forces for the weekend to treat hundreds of local children to a programme of special events and activities. Day care centres across the city were provided with special Finland 100 themed packs containing lots of fun communal activities for the day.
In keeping with tradition, the Mayor’s Awards were also presented on Espoo Day.
The opening day concluded with a series of highly atmospheric evening concerts. Tapiola Ensemble performed in Tapiola Church, while Teleks performed a selection of love songs in Leppävaara Church. The official Espoo Day opening concert took place at the Espoo Cultural Centre, with a line-up featuring Tapiola Sinfonietta, Tapiola Choir and Felix Zenger playing to a sold-out audience. Over in Sello Hall, the evening concluded with an appearance by the Madventures travel show duo.
Community picnic puts finishing touch to a busy Saturday
The weekend’s theme of Together was very much in evidence across Espoo on Saturday. An event to mark the inaugural Finnish Nature Day was held in the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia. Following an early morning flag raising ceremony, Finland became the first country in the world to honour nature with an officially designated day for flying the national flag.
The Finland 100-themed village fete in Kauklahti enjoyed warm and sunny weather, attracting huge crowds. At the event, residents honoured their local hero, multiple Special Olympics medallist Jesse Honkonen for his sporting achievements.
A number of new events took place at the weekend alongside the traditional Espoo Day festivities. At the newly opened Espoo District Court, children were invited to take part in a court-related quiz, with all participants awarded a Little Judges certificate on completion of the challenge. The newly built state-of-the-art Kilo industrial kitchen also opened its doors to the Espoo Day crowds. Visitors were fascinated to hear that the new kitchen will be preparing 11,600 meals each day for children attending day care across the city.
The Espoo station overpass underwent a complete transformation for the weekend, with the concrete tunnel turning into a catwalk, where models from the Trapesa international community centre showcased national dresses and folk costumes from Finland and around the world. The Entresse shopping centre was also given an entirely new look, with the line of trees outside thoroughly yarn bombed with artwork created by a huge team of local residents.
At Villa Elfvik, the Espoon laulu vocal ensemble gave a performance on a seaside meadow, with a programme comprising songs about nature, love and dreaming. The romantic setting amidst the late summer haystacks inspired the audience to join the performers in song.
The highlight of a busy Saturday was a community picnic dinner, with guests marking the Finland 100 theme through formal dress, decorations, special table settings, speeches and even spontaneous sing-alongs.
Sunday culminates in unveiling of community artwork to mark Finland at 100
The sunny weather on Sunday meant that the guided walks in Gräsa, Tapiola and Otaniemi attracted a full turnout. Another hugely popular feature of the day was a street circus ensemble, performing a series of humorous skits and feats of acrobatic skill across six different locations around the city.
The happy atmosphere continued over in Louhisali with a screening of Pähkähullu Suomi (Crazy Finland), a classic Finnish comedy from 1967. The screening began with an introduction by the film’s director, Jukka Virtanen.
The Kauklahden Juhlajalashiihdot skiing race took place on the Lasiruukinsilta lawn in traditional style with competitors donning a pair of wooden cross-country skis. The competition dates back to a time when Kauklahti was still home to a glass factory. In honour of the Finnish centenary, the competition was this year held in the summer.
As the evening fell, Espoo Day was brought to a suitably festive conclusion as a floral installation created by the residents to mark Finland’s centenary was completed in Matinkylä. A huge crowd gathered to view the sea of flowers, which was met with great enthusiasm and excitement. At the conclusion of the event, the hundreds of cyclamen and chrysanthemums making up the unique artwork were handed out to the public in just eight minutes to add wonderful memories and new colour to their homes, balconies and gardens.
Espoo Day has established itself as a popular and important event in the city’s calendar. Next year’s Espoo Day is again set to take place on the last weekend of August.