Helsinki flags, Source: Helsinki Municipality

Happy birthday, Helsinki!

Happy birthday, Helsinki!

What happens on 12 June in the Finnish capital?

It all began on 12 June 1550, almost half a millennium ago, the Swedish king Gustav I Vasa founded Helsinki (then called Helsingfors) with the idea to have a Hanseatic trade port in the Eastern Baltic that would rival the City of Reval (now Tallinn, the capital of Estonia).

The king’s plan didn’t quite work out as intended as Helsinki didn’t achieve such a great trading port, but on the bright side, it grew to become eventually the capital of a young nation – Finland, and today it is one of the most vibrant and progressive capitals in the world.

Officially, the capital’s birthday – called Helsinki Day - has been celebrated since 1959.

If you want to visit the exact spot where Helsinki was founded, you should head to the district of Koskela. At the time of the foundation, there was already a village there, mentioned as early as 1417, so in a way, there’s nowadays a part of Helsinki that is even older than Helsinki itself.

Celebration for the people

Every year, the Finnish capital organizes a diverse programme of activities and events to mark its birthday. Various local associations, companies, clubs, organisations and active residents get into the spirit and take part in making the programme fun.

Best of all, most of these events are free of charge.

There are musical performances, performing arts, guided tours, exhibitions, open doors, activities for kids and also fun for older people. Helsinki Day traditions include morning coffees with the mayor and the presentations of the City Slang Man and Woman of the Year, Sports Person of the Year and Helsinki Day Baby. Helsinki Day has become a major annual festival that residents eagerly look forward to and actively participate in.



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