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Come to Seurasaari - Midsummer Bonfires.

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Seurasaari Midsummer Bonfires

Call of the shepherd's horn

Seurasaari midsummer bonfires is an urban festival with living cultural heritage. Let's gather together around the midsummer bonfires!

Arriving to Seurasaari

Arriving to the event, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of queue after living in London and Toronto. This got my hopes up that the event this evening would be something special.


After paying our 23€ entrance fee, we were handed a pamplet with a map and program outline. We continued to head over to the main bridge to the island. There we saw the welcome bonfire being maintained by a very experienced bonfire master it seemed. Doing handstands on a log floating in water during extremely windy weather - just another day in Finland.



Windy Walk

Crossing the Seurasaari Bridge













Welcome to Finnish summer!






Here we start our Midsummer - or 'Juhannus' - journey to Seurasaari. Equipped with sweaters, rain jackets, scarfs, and hoods we start our adventure, on Midsummer's Eve, looking to see how the celebrations unfold in Helsinki.






Just to the left we can see a seagull struggling to fly in the wind. We brave the gale and continue across the bridge.

Seurasaari Island

A Map to Adventure

18.30

We start our journey landing on the north tip of the island. Many people are huddled around Cafe Mieritz dressed in national costume under rain gear.

Several activities are held throughout Midsummer's Eve on Seurasaari. We look to our provided map and discover a red line drawn to the festivities. It is cold. We decide to take this route and continue on our way.

With a Finnish wood artisan, sauna buckets are plentiful.
Wooden toys and cups are on another table.

Spinning Artisans










18:40

After browsing the wooden products briefly, we continued down the path and happened upon some spinning artisans. Here the man is combing raw sheep fleece, while the women hand spin the wool using drop spindles.

A penthouse for birds?












18:42

Continuing on after watching the spinners, we see some of the sights Seurasaari has to offer. The colours on the island seem extra vibrant after yesterday's intense rainfall.

A small wooden structure is perched ontop of a beam. It leads one to wonder, what is this for?

Come to Dance!





The raising of the maypole happened at 18.00. Afterwards two hours of dancing took place at Antti Farmstead. Many people are wearing national costume and everyone seems to know how to do this dance... Something new to learn!












18.51

After watching many dances we leave Antti Farmstead to head further along the festival path.




Karuna Church

Kantele Concert







18.56

We happen upon Karuna church and are greeted by a hostess informing us there is a concert starting at 19.00. Throughout the night, three concerts are performed in the church.







18.59

Deciding to continue along the festival path, we turn around and head towards the main festival stage. Stopping for hot chocolates along the way was in order at this point, as we were very very cold...






Children play Tug-o-war, Swingsets are festively decorated.
Pony rides are available for young children.

At the End of the Shepherd's Music





19.19

We arrived at the main festival stage just for the very end of the performance of the 'Shepherd's Music'. It sounded like it was played on a kazoo?


Children's Polonaise





19.25

The children's polonaise begins on the main festival stage. This dance leads the children to the children's bonfire scheduled earlier in the evening at 19.40.


My favourite part about this dance was near the end. Every pair of two that danced together had one person pick the other person up and carry them through the dancing tunnel until the end. Old, young, different ages, family, friends, random people - all of them came together and one would carry or piggy back their partner to the end.
















19.40

The polonaise ends and we head towards the children's bonfire. This bonfire is a small one on the shore, but it's impossible to get close to it. There's so many people in the crowd we end up watching the bonfire be lit through someone's camera as they record it. The bigger bonfires don't start until 21.00, so we decided to deviate from the festival path and explore the wilder side of Seurasaari.








Carriage Ride

A Fork in the Road








20.34

We had at this point wandered from the bonfire shores around the southern tip of the island and back up around the west coast of Seurasaari until we were near the festival area again. At the crossroads we decided to head back from the walk.

Iron Artisan














20.42

Back on the festival path we find an iron artisan. There is a small shop of handmade goods containing iron roses, housing numbers, spoons, and more.

Yarn Artisan

WOOL!!!








20.45

I think this was my favourite artisan stand... but maybe it's because I like knitting? :D


This piece seemed to be a very fine lace woven product that he was currently working on. I enjoyed checking out the gloves and stockings he had made, and also checking out the wool in the baskets.

Museum Shop

A Cheeky Purchase








20.47

The island of Seurasaari is itself an open-air museum. We decided to check out the museum shop since it was inside... and looked warm!











The shop was filled with old fashioned style candies in one room, and another room was filled with materials related to crafting. There were many books explaining traditional ways to craft garments and accessories.







After just encountering the yarn artisan I was extra inspired to check out the knitting section. There I found a basket of yarn - brand Aurinkokehrä - which is locally produced from Finn sheep and dyed using only natural materials in Finland by a Finnish dyer...









I just had to get some...

Lighting of the Bonfires

21.00

We had wandered back down to the bonfire area from the museum shop and then proceeded to find ourselves a suitable vantage point just off the side of the bonfire area on the coast.

A couple of men rowed out by small boat to light the first bonfire.

Great Bonfire

22.00

While the small bonfire was burning itself out, an even bigger boat had been rowed towards the great bonfire, to be handlit by a man onboard.

Midsummer Dance











22.27

After the lighting of the great bonfire, there was the midsummer's dance taking place back at the main festival stage area.
















Happy Midsummer!

Naomi Aro