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Helsinki Launches Finland’s Centennial Celebrations of Independence

January 5, 2017 Destination Europe No Comments Email Email

The Töölö bay area in central Helsinki was the venue of a spectacle on New Year’s Eve, as the nation prepared to celebrate 100 years of Finnish independence throughout 2017.

Artists and DJ’s on three stages and a light art installation extending over the entire Töölö bay park, culminating in New Year fireworks, entertained an audience of 100,000 — one in ten Helsinki area residents — and all of Finland through a live broadcast.

Earlier in the day, families were entertained with a children’s program, city-center sports venues and museums held open houses, and the Helsinki Music Center hosted a public dance party.

Close to midnight, Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen announced the name of the Helsinki Central Library under construction in the Töölö bay area, one of the signature projects of the centennial: the name will be Oodi, the Finnish word for ode. The name was selected from among 2,600 proposals from citizens, 1,600 of them different names, to symbolize 100 years of independence and owing to its link with literature. See

The Finnish Government emphasizes that the centennial of independence is a jubilee that belongs to all Finns. As a result, the centennial theme is Working Together to build a yearlong civic festival. Anyone and any organization can suggest content for the Finland 100 centennial program, which now consists of 2,600 projects. While 160 projects receive government sponsorship, most are implemented through citizen activity.

A series of public events organized by the City of Helsinki during 2017 is launched with the Lux Helsinki festival of light, which brightens the darkest time of the year with light art reflected on Helsinki Cathedral and with other light art installations in the historic city center (January 5-9). See

The city will dedicate the annual Helsinki Day festival on June 12 to the centennial with a two-day program. The theme of togetherness will be underscored in the world’s largest village party in late summer: citizens are invited to gather together for joint meals under the theme Let’s Eat Together (August 25-27).

The centennial is manifest in Helsinki’s cultural scene, and Helsinki museums will focus on Finnish themes from the past 100 years. For example, Helsinki Art Museum HAM will hold a major exhibition on Finnish modernism entitled Modern Life!, see

The centennial will also be seen at sports events. The year’s sports calendar includes the World Figure Skating Championships 2017.

Finland declared independence from Russia on December 6, 1917, having been an autonomous grand duchy of the Russian Empire since 1809. Prior to 1809, Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden. The Republic of Finland joined the European Union in 1995 and the Eurozone in 1999.

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