Finally, Winter has ended. Winter 2017-18 felt looooong, what with the first snow falling way back in October 2017. As the season now eases into Spring, Seinäjoki has warmed-up and the whole town has started to come to life. May 2018 is actually warm, above +25 celsius on many days. I’ve even worn shorts to work on a few occasions. My tips for Spring 2018 looks forward to things to do as the weather gets warmer, and some interesting places to stay, if you’re looking for something other than a hotel chain.. It may cover some familiar themes to readers of this blog but, I hope you’ll agree, from a different perspective.
Fix-up Your Mökki With Some Locally Made Homewares and Textiles
As Finland thaws, thoughts and plans turn towards warm weather activities. One thing many Finns like to do, is get away for the hustle and bustle of daily life, by retreating to a mökki (summer cabin or cottage). These can be in the forest, or by the lake. If you are lucky, you might get both. What if, however, your mökki is starting to look a bit tired and needs some TLC (tender loving care)? Just because your mökki is a traditional (maybe even old) building, it doesn’t mean it cannot be furnished beautifully inside.
Here are some textile and homewares companies, near to Seinäjoki, where you can make your summer retreat look a million dollars, without spending a million dollars. Also, if you’re only visiting the area, you can take something home with you, because many of them have a factory shop that you can visit too.
- Jokipiin Pellava (Jalasjärvi) – Surely the most important room in the mökki is the sauna. What better way to dress both your sauna and yourself, than Jokipiin Pellava’s range of linen bathroom and kitchen products. Everything is traditionally woven in its beautiful red-brick factory in nearby Jalasjärvi, which is worth a visit by itself. http://www.jokipiinpellava.fi/factory_outlet
- Lapuan Kankurit (Lapua) – Another local manufacturer of fine woven materials, Lapuan Kankurit offer a range of high-quality wool, linen and cotton products to adorn any kitchen, lounge and bathroom. It is possible to arrange a tour of the Weaving Mill or visit the shop in the Lapua culture centre Vanha Paukku. https://www.lapuankankurit.fi/en/lapua-factory-outlet
- Amfora (Seinäjoki) – Naturally, you cannot only improve your soft furnishings, you want to improve your breakfast, lunch and dinner experience too. Amfora’s designer range of high quality ceramic products for both everyday life and special occasions. Crafted out of clay from the Pohjanmaa region, they are both functional and beautiful, and available at the Amfora Shop. Be sure to plan your visit carefully, it is a little way out-of-town, and is only open Thursdays 10:00-17:00. http://amfora.fi/#tuotteet
- Design from Scandinavia (Seinäjoki) – Boasting a fine selection of interior design products, Including furniture, textiles, lighting and rugs from VM Carpet, another local manufacturer from the Lappajärvi area. You can visit the Showroom in Seinäjoki or, if your shopping is too big to carry, place an order online and wait for it to be delivered to you (including overseas). https://designfromscandinavia.com/en/
- Lankava (Kauhava) – Maybe all this shopping has left you with a creative urge. Or maybe you just want to add a personal touch. The Yarn Shop Lankava is just the place to fulfill all your knitting and crocheting desires. With a large selection of yarns in wool, cotton, linen, t-shirt and paper. Yes, really! Plus a wide range of patterns to get you started. https://www.lankava.fi/epages/lankava.sf/en_GB/
Varied and Interesting Places to Stay
If you’ve been reading my regular blogs or my seasonal tips articles, I hope, by now, you are starting to think about planning your first visit to Seinäjoki, but where to stay? There are many possibilities, to suit many different budgets, and many different tastes. This is far from a complete list, but should give you an idea of the variety on offer.
- Hotel Sorsanpesa (Seinäjoki) – At certain times of the year, this is something of a party hotel. It is ideally located for Provinssi Festival (but you should probably book early) and throughout Summer hosts its own season of parties, to make the most of the terassi that overlooks Seinäjoki river. Don’t let that give you a false impression, Sorsanpesa is also next door to a small campsite with mini golf, and close to Törnävän puisto (picturesque outside of Provinssi week) and the outdoor area of the Provincial Museum of South Ostrobothnia is well worth a visit. https://www.sorsanpesa.fi/
- Koskenkorvan Trahteeri (Koskenkorva) – If you want a real slice of Finland, then you should take a night or two in the B&B at Koskenkorvan Trahteeri. The accommodation is in the converted old granary and is suited to family groups and groups of friends, but this is not the biggest reason to stay here. The main attraction is the selection of saunas on offer onsite, four different varieties, and in a mixed environment, as everyone can wear one of their very fetching sauna suits. Be sure also to check out the Koskenkorva Vodka museum, complete with a tap connected to the distillery next door. Listen to my podcast episode Just Why Is The Sauna So Important To Finns? or visit https://trahteeri.fi/en/bed-breakfast/
- Ilomäki Farm (Peräseinäjoki) – On a similar theme, is the collection of mökit (cabins) at Ilomäki Farm in Peräseinäjoki, 30km from Seinäjoki. This charming collection of log cabins all have names, such as, “Little Cabin” or “Cabin by the Brook”, and range from 10m2 up to 90m2. Ilomäki Farm offer a traditional Finnish, summer holiday experience with a range of activities, and with prices starting at 60€ per night for a smaller cabin, it doesn’t cost the earth to sample it either. https://maatilamatkailuilomaki.fi/en_US
- Kalajärvi Holiday Village (Peräseinäjoki) – Only a few kilometres from Ilomäki Farm, is Lake Kalajärvi, and the ever-growing area of Kalajärvi Holiday Village. Here you will find a wide selection of mökit of various sizes plus a caravan park, all situated around a small, sandy beach. There are a selection of activities, such as, mini-golf, tennis, beach volleyball, summer theatre and the luontopolut (nature trails). All of these are serviced by Kalajärvi Restaurant, offering a varied menu of pizzas, burgers and a la carte dishes plus drinks for the young and those over 18 years old. In the summertime, you can also experience a range of Finnish entertainers, events and parties staged in and around Ravintola Kalajärvi. http://kalajarvi.fi/
- Hotel Alma (Seinäjoki) – So we finish our mini-tour of Seinäjoki, back in the town centre, at Hotel Alma. This building used to be accommodation for railway workers but, nowadays, is one of Seinäjoki’s classier hotels. Often the venue for important family events and wedding receptions, Alma’s historic setting offers ‘style and atmosphere’ with rooms designed in a rustic art nouveau style. You might even book a room in the Alma Tower (the converted railway water-tower), with modern industrial red brick walls and traditional wooden beams. You will also find a high-quality a la carte restaurant and, in my experience, an excellent breakfast buffet. https://www.hotelalma.fi/
- Podcast episode: Just Why Is The Sauna So Important To Finns? (at Koskenkorvan Trahteeri)
- Podcast episode: Distilling, Prohibition & Koskenkorva Vodka (at Koskenkorvan Trahteeri)
Exciting Days Out at Nearby Theme Parks & Activity Centres
No sooner had the snow disappeared, and the air had lost its chill, then one of our kids said ‘Some of my friends went to Power Park last weekend… when can WE go to Power Park?’ Here are my suggestions for some active family days out, in the area around Seinäjoki. The neat part is that you can get pretty close to all of them by train from Seinäjoki, so they are within reach even if you don’t have a car.
- Power Park, Härmä – Power Park has developed into a really good theme park in the past 10 years. It really does have something for everyone; large, fast, high rides (for thrillseekers), small gentle rides (for younger ones), indoor and outdoor go-karting tracks (for petrol heads). The only person it doesn’t cater for, is my Dad who doesn’t really like the rides. He does, however, like ice cream and there is plenty of that, so he was happy too. The train stops in Härmä during the summer months, with a transfer bus to the park. https://powerpark.fi/en/
- Tropiclandia, Vaasa – In nearby Vaasa, is the water park of Tropiclandia. You need to pick your day wisely and go on a warm, sunny day to get the best of the outdoor slides and pools. It is, however, the perfect venue on a rainy day as well. You can enjoy the adventure pool with waves, slides and jacuzzis, inside a large glass dome which keeps the cold water out, and the warm water in. The train from Seinäjoki to Vaasa needs a short taxi ride to Tropiclandia. https://www.tropiclandia.fi/en/
- Kyläkauppa, Tuuri – Heading south by train from Seinäjoki, you will come to the phenomenon that is Kyläkauppa (the Village Shop) in Tuuri. Also known to locals as Keskinen, it is Finland’s largest department store and Finland’s most popular tourist attraction. Don’t worry, it not ALL about shopping. You will also find a wide range of activities spread-out around the shopping centre; mini-golf, childrens playground and , from 22.6 to 5.8, the Miljoona Tivoli fairground will return, will all rides FREE OF CHARGE to under 13s. The local train station, Tuuri, is located right next to Kyläkauppa. http://www.tuuri.fi/
- Ähtäri Zoo & Flow Park, Ähtäri – Located further south from Tuuri is Ähtäri zoo, with its international guests, Lumi & Pyry the giant pandas from China, who are proving popular with visitors of all ages. You will also find brown bears, red pandas, snow leopards and wolves, to name just a few. If you are feeling more energetic then there is Flowpark. Located adjacent to the zoo, Flowpark is an ecological adventure park with trails (high-wires) built into the trees. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it IS a lot of fun and a workout at the same time. There is a train station at Ähtäri with a 15 minute walk to the Zoo and Flowpark. http://ahtarizoo.fi/index.php/en/ and http://www.flowpark.fi/ahtarizoo/?lang=en