“Summer’s here and the time is right, for dancing in the street” so sang Martha Reeves and the Vandellas back in 1964, and it seems to me that this is a mission statement that Seinäjoki tries to live-up to. I have always marvelled at the sight of sections of the town centre closing down, to allow stages to be erected ready for the next festival. My Summer Tips article will highlight a few of the biggest festivals in-and-around Seinäjoki, as well as activities for families with teenagers, and then some interesting places to eat if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Five of the Biggest and Best Local Festivals
By now, Seinäjoki is well established as a city of big events. As well as the festivals, there are exhibitions at the Areena, one-of concerts at OmaSp stadion and business conferences at Frami. But, as it is now summertime, I’m going to preview the highlights at some of the bigger festivals (below are links where you can read about the background to these events)
- Ilmajoen Musiikkijuhlat (6–17.6.2018) – Also known as the Opera Festival, it is more a series of concerts than a festival, where you see many performances with one ticket. The location, on the banks of the Kyrönjoki River, is an lovely place to watch top-quality live music. Summer 2018 sees multiple performances of the Mannerheim Opera, which tells the story of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, the military leader, President and Finnish legend. Also on the bill is a concert from local hero, Juha Tapio, and well as a family evening. https://www.musiikkijuhlat.fi/etusivu
- Provinssi (28–30.6.2018) – This is a big year for Provinssi, as it celebrates its 40 year anniversary as the people’s festival. Highlights for 2018 include Prophets of Rage (Public Enemy/Rage Against the Machine), Madness and The Offspring, alongside a good selection of homgrown talent: Antti Tuisku, Cheek and JVG. Aside from the music, this is an event that locals go to to meet old friends, and make new ones. If there happens to be a few good bands as well, that’s a bonus. https://www.provinssi.fi/etusivu
- Tango markkinat (11–15.7.2018) – The Tango festival also takes place in the town centre. Not only are streets close for music stages, but also every area of grass in the town, is taken over by camper vans. People travel from all over the country in their RVs, and it is a surreal sight to see people eating breakfast outside their mobile homes… as you drive or cycle to work in the morning.The festival includes two evening singing contests to find the Tango King and Queen, four evenings of live, outdoors performances (Wednesday evening is free!), an indoor pavilion with dancing to live orchestras and singers, plus dance classes throughout the event. http://www.tangomarkkinat.fi/in-english/
- Vauhtiajot (19–22.7.2018) – Now firmly established in Seinäjki’s summer schedule, Vauhtiajot (Speed Racing) festival is three nights of live music, with two days of cars racing round the streets of teollisuussalue (industrial area). The music is mostly domestic bands, including in 2018, Elastinen, Apulanta and Michael Monroe (ex. Hanoi Rocks). http://www.vauhtiajot.fi/
- Euro U19 Championship (16–19.7.2018) – While very different to the music events, the Euro U19 Championship IS a festival of football. Getting back to live football will be the perfect remedy for those that will have just finished binge-watching the World Cup in Russia on TV. Finland’s Nuoret Huuhkajat (Young Eagle Owls) will take on some of Europe’s biggest teams, such as, France, Portugal and England, who could include players with Premier League and Bundesliga experience; Phil Foden and Jaden Sancho. Games are scheduled to take place at OmaSp Stadion in Seinäjoki, and Elisa Stadion in Vaasa. See my July 2018 blog for a more details. http://www.uefa.com/under19/
- Podcast episode: Provinssirock Festival & the Finnish Music Scene
- Podcast episode: Festivals: Midsummer Metal & Tango Camper Vans
- Podcast episode: Finnish Music Traditions: From Folk to Rap!
- The Finnish Football Show podcast
Events & Activities for teenagers
Back in my Autumn Tips 2017, I listed a few ideal activities for families with children, but what about if your ‘babies’ are now taller than you? What does the Seinäjoki area have to offer teenagers? And will parents be happy to let them do it? As I am moving further-and-further away from my teens, I turned to the four teenagers in my house for help. OK kids, over to you.
- Solar Sound festival 4–9.8.2018 – Continuing the theme of town centre festivals, Solar Sound is aimed at a younger crowd, with a focus on urban and electronic music – which is why I know hardly anyone on the bill! In 2018, there will be parent-volunteers to marshall the event and make sure all the partygoers stay safe. Teenager quote ‘I would be interested in going to this, as it’s in the town centre, right in (one of) my back yards, but I can’t because you booked a holiday for us.’ https://solarsound.fi/
- Zbase Laser Tag (Seinäjoki) – Formerly Megazone, this is a dark, indoor venue where you get to stalk your friends and shoot them with light guns, the more hits, the more points. Great for pairs, groups or even individuals, depending on the number of other participants. Teenager quote ‘It’s fun and sweaty. I enjoyed shooting people, it’s like a real-life video game, but no-one gets hurt.’ https://zbase.fi/seinajoki/
- Nohil Paintball (Ilmajoki, Tervajoki, Kurikka) – Located a stone’s throw from Seinäjoki, in the village of Tuomikylä, Nohil Paintball’s Munakunta location has three paintball ‘fields’ of different sizes. All the required equipment can be rented, and they even offer smaller calibre ammunition, making the game suitable for ‘teenagers’ as young as 8. Teenager quote ‘It was fun but painful. We were in a forest location, but it wasn’t too dense. Not so much running as laser tag, more like waiting for victims to stroll past. Also like a real-life video game but with added pain’ https://www.nohillpaintball.com
- Galaxie Center (Seinäjoki) – There is something magical about descending the stairs of a billiards hall, out of the daylight into the dark, illuminated only by the pools of light around each table. It’s something every teenager should experience with their Dad, Grandad, Uncle etc. Galaxie Center is easy to find, in the middle of Seinäjoki, and also offers tabletop curling, air hockey, board games and pinball. Teenager quote ‘It was quite a long time ago that we went. Can we go again soon, or are you scared I’ll beat you this time.’ http://www.galaxie.fi/seinajoki/
- Find Out room escape (Ilmajoki, Seinäjoki) – Room Escape is a recent phenomenon, and there are three rooms in Ilmajoki/Seinäjoki. Each room has its own theme and story, in which a group of players enter the room and try to find a way of ‘escaping’, within a 60 minute limit. This is done by solving a series of tasks, for example, finding keys, opening locks with codes, and answering riddles and clues. As I understand it, the games can be played with both Finnish and English clues, so it’s perfect if you have international visitors. Teenager quote ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Room Escape, because you have to use your brain to solve puzzles. It’s like another real-life video game, but without guns.’ http://www.findout.fi/seinajoki/
Do you ever get the feeling our kids’ lives are little too connected to video games?!
Best Places for Vegetarian/Vegan Food in Seinäjoki
I remember my friend Julian bemoaning the fact that he could not get decent vegetarian food in Seinäjoki. ‘Oh well, I guess it will be salad and chips again for me this evening’ were words I heard on more than one occasion. Nowadays, eating out appears to be much easier and more enjoyable for non-carnivores. I asked another friend, Lien, to recommend some of her favourite restaurants for vegan food in Seinäjoki – hopefully, if it’s suitable for a vegan, it will work for vegetarian, plant-based and other meat-free diets.
Below are Lien’s tips, plus a few suggested dishes that you might want to try. None of these are vegan-only restaurants, so there is something for non-vegan friends/family.
- Golani (Lunch and dinner) – The Vöner kebab is exceptional, pizzas are all very good. There are also authentic Israeli dishes, including fresh falafel made to order, which are outstanding, and they offer vegan mayonnaise and sauces. https://www.facebook.com/Golani-901814823172909/
- Mallas Kabacka (dinner) – Their Seitan is made in-house and is very good. They have a seasonal menu on rotation, and often offer a vegan alternative to any of their dishes. https://www.facebook.com/kabacka/
- Pizza Center (Lunch and dinner) – This is a new arrival in Seinäjoki in Spring 2018. They offer exceptional pizzas, customers have been overheard saying ‘Best.Pizza. Ever.’ Vegan cheese is avavilable. https://www.facebook.com/seinajoenpizzacenter/
- Valkoinen Puu (Lunch and coffee shop) – This is a really classy coffee shop that offers both savoury and sweet treats for vegans. There is a Vegan lasagne lunch buffet every Friday, and occasionally vegan lunch buffets on other days too. https://www.facebook.com/valkoinenpuu/
- Vohvelihetki (Lunch and coffee shop) – Another place that I’ve previously mentioned, offering both savoury & sweet waffles, with which you can have vegan ice cream. There is also a vegan lunch buffet available at least a couple times a week. https://www.facebook.com/kahvilavohvelihetki/
- Restaurants in Seinäjoki that offer vegan options: http://vegaaniliitto.fi/www/fi/arki/ulkona-syominen#seinajoki
- For suggestions from the locals and more information in detail, check out the Vegaaninen Seinäjoki Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/479564158820969/
- Podcast episode: Finnish Food: The Good, The Bad & The Weird (with Miia Keski-Nikkola from Juurella Restaurant)
- Podcast episode: Kristina Vänni’s ‘Homefarm’ Cookbook: Taking Finnish Cuisine into American Kitchens