How to do Juhannus – the celebration of midsummer in Helsinki

Juhannus started from the pagan midsummer festivals which focused on a prosperous upcoming harvest after a long cold winter. It was said that witches and ferries would be confused by the short nights and often let slip visions of the future. Moving to more modern time, the new name Juhannus comes from associating the date with celebrations for John the Baptist.  But for the average Finn, the holiday is about celebrating summer outdoors with closest people and cold beer.

Picture: Soili Jussila/Vastavalo/Visit Finland

The longest day of the year has traditionally been very quiet in Helsinki. As it was mentioned, Midsummer is typically spent with friends or in family circle either partying or relaxing. Years before, mostly like nowadays, everybody left the city to countryside and summer cabins on the lakes. That’s why, while celebrating the summer solstice, you still can experience riding a bicycle in the middle of the empty main street of Helsinki like a Ghost town.

The two most typical traditions for Juhannus celebrations are bathing in endless amount of Finnish saunas and lighting up the bonfires. In the ancient times, it was a belief that washing up in a lake and sauna from Juhannus until the 2nd of august is a special period when you can clean your body and soul from all the bad energy you’ve got within the year.

Sauna during midsummer is a must. Picture: Emilia Hoisko Photography/Visit Finland

What goes to the second one – bonfires or “kokko” were lit during Midsummer to keep evil spirits away and ensure a good crop come time for harvesting. Making noise and getting intoxicated has been part of Midsummer celebrations for ages. According to past beliefs, loud behavior would bring luck and drive away evil spirits. Some thought the amount of drink consumed in Midsummer would correlate to the magnitude of the crop at the end of summer.

A Midsummer bonfire. Picture: Visit Finland

But, of course, it’s difficult to imagine this day without barbecuing, fishing and boating, which are also part of cottage Finnish life.

the finnish lakeview at night
the finnish lakeview at night. Picture: Hansenit, Flickr (CC by 2.0)

What to do this year? Here’s what Midsummer in Helsinki has to offer in 2021:

So, as you could have noticed, Finnish Midsummer party traditions run deep. Typically, countless events and festivals are held all over the country, with parties often lasting beyond the wee hours, simply because it’s hard to tell when the night ends and a new day starts!

This year, due to the circumstances with the Covid-19 pandemic many people are happy to go to their summer cottages for the holidays, however, Helsinki has various options, such as outdoor events and activities, to chose from too!

A new kind of Midsummer Madness event will take place in Töölönlahti, Hesperia Park. It is an urban Midsummer event that combines a Moomin theme with singing, dancing and other exciting entertainment. The event was scheduled to take place as early as last summer, but interest rate restrictions postponed the event for a year.

Additionally, since the city will most likely be peaceful and serene this time of the year, it is a great time to catch up on the most intriguing sights, such as Helsinki Square and the Suomenlinna Sea Forteress. Korkeasaari zoo and Linnanmäki amusement park are usually also open during midsummer. This can be a great way to experience these exciting parks without huge crowds and lines of people.

And don’t forget that we also have exciting guided tours organised on the Midsummer weekend! We offer the following Finnish tours on the Midsummer weekend:

Additionally, we are happy to organize you a private tour, including all Finnish traditions. We’ll for sure include all your wishes and combine it with our customs. Don’t be shy, apply for a tour on our email: greencaptours@gmail.com.

So, Midsummer in Helsinki 2021 can be a lot of fun! However, since the situation is alive with regard to the coronavirus all the time, it’s a good idea to follow the regulations – and follow Helsinki’s own event website as well as Stadissa.fi – to know what to do and where to go.