The Midnight Sun Film Festival 2018 in Sodankylä Central-Lapland
Photo by: House of Lapland/Harri Tarvainen
The Midnight Sun Film Festival 2018 in Sodankylä Central-Lapland

Lapland filled with unique cultural events

The wide range of cultural events in Lapland showcases northern know-how and creativity to a larger audience, and  Sámi events strengthen the native culture. The events industry is also an important tool in the development of year-round tourism in Lapland.

Lapland is a unique environment for organizing events and creating art. The closeness of nature, the sense of spaciousness and the rapidly changing seasons help creativity to flourish. These same characteristics draw audiences to the cultural events in the area.

Wide range of events in Lapland

One of the most popular events in Lapland during the summer is the Midnight Sun Film Festival (Sodankylän elokuvajuhlat) in Sodankylä, which has been held since 1986. In mid-June, when the midnight sun is at its highest, the big names of the film industry, other professionals, new productions, and film lovers all come to the same place. The Film Festival in Sodankylä is known for its relaxed atmosphere, feeling of togetherness, and a shared passion for motion pictures that unites everyone.

What makes the film festival unique is that films are watched at all times of the day; after all, the sun is in the sky around the clock. In addition to traditional films, the event features discussion events for professional guests. Silent films accompanied by live music have also been popular. The number of visitors is about 28,000–30,000 people per year.

Silence is one of the attractions of Lapland and the multidisciplinary Silence Festival (Hiljaisuus-festivaali) draws on this for its event. The Silence Festival is held in the village of Kaukonen in Kittilä, and its program includes a wide range of art, such as circus art, concerts and works created during the event itself.

The festival is an important part of the field of performing arts and music in Finland. In addition to the enjoyment of art, it serves as a meeting place for Finnish and international professionals in the field and enables collaborations.

The unique Pyhä Unplugged music event has been held in Pelkosenniemi since 1998. The stages are located in an unusual environment on Pyhätunturi, which has its own fell-made acoustics. Pyhä Unplugged attracts acoustic music lovers and artists from all over the country.

The festival is known for its relaxed spirit. There is no need for the performers to stick to set lists, and if the atmosphere of the performance moves in a completely different direction, such as singer Lauri Tähkä going into a freezing cold pond in the middle of a concert, so be it.

The event brings visibility to the area and summer tourists during a quieter period, supporting the year-round attraction of the area. Over the years, Pyhä Unplugged has established itself as a late summer attraction of Lapland.

Pyhä Unplugged in Pelkosenniemi, Lapland
Photo by: Pyhätunturi Oy
Pyhä Unplugged in Pelkosenniemi, Lapland

Art and tourism cooperation developments in Lapland

Between seasons, events are held to attract tourists to come to Lapland and to see what it has to offer during the off-seasons. The events industry is an important tool in the year-round tourism of Lapland, which is also important in improving the sustainability of tourism. For example, having tourism year-round reduces the seasonal nature of jobs in the tourism sector, which in turn improves the quality of services and keeps workers in the area permanently.

Cooperation in the fields of tourism and culture is also being developed at the University of Lapland in a project called Art-Based Services for Tourism. The university’s researcher-artists and artists from Lapland have developed ways to promote cooperation between the tourism sector and gallery operators in Lapland. Several cultural operators, art museums and galleries from Lapland participated in the project.

– Lapland’s artists can be seen as having their own role and responsibility in creating the image we present of the Arctic to tourists. Artists have both the skills and the tools to create experiences and images. Art-based services at tourist resorts and art galleries will allow tourists to experience the art of Lapland, says Timo Jokela, Professor of Visual Arts Education, and Maria Huhmarniemi, University Lecturer in Fine Arts Education, who wrote the project’s publication, in the university’s press release.

The Finnish Cultural Foundation awards grants for art and science. Slightly under 500,000 EUR in grants were awarded to projects in Lapland in 2022. Kuusikko soi ry, the organizer of the classical music festival Sounds of Luosto 2022 (Luosto soi! 2022), received the biggest grant. A total of five grants were awarded to Sámi culture projects.

Pyhä Unplugged, Tajukangas outdoor stage, in Pyhä, Pelkosenniemi, Lapland
Photo by: Pyhätunturi Oy
Pyhä Unplugged, Tajukangas outdoor stage, in Pyhä, Pelkosenniemi, Lapland

Sámi events cherish the native culture in Inari

Inari is home to two indigenous cultural events, the Sámi Music Festival, Ijahis idja, and the Indigenous Film Festival, Skábmagovat. Indigenous people plan and organize the events that have established themselves and taken root in the region. Skábmagovat is held annually in late January and Ijahis idja in August.

The events have an important goal of supporting the strengthening of Sámi culture, language and traditions. They raise awareness of the Sámi people and their culture.

Skábmagovat (Portraits of Polar night) presents films produced by the Sámi and other indigenous peoples, and organizes workshops, panels and concerts. The films usually represent the perspective of indigenous peoples. The festival highlights the storytelling tradition of indigenous peoples and strengthens cooperation and dialogue within communities.

The film festival has become bigger than itself, one of the most international winter events in the north, and is of great importance in the region of Inari and the whole province. The event has relationships with operators in the film industry and other event organizers around the world. Approximately 3,500 visitors attended the performances and concert of Skábmagovat in 2019, and an estimated 380 people attended the festival evenings.

Ijahis idja is Finland’s only festival focusing on Sámi music, and it has been held since 2004. The event features a wide range of performers: performers of traditional Sámi music, rising Sámi artists and visiting masters of indigenous folk music. They also hold Sámi music club nights. Ihajis idja set an audience record in 2019, about 3,500 visitors.

Every year, the festival gives you a chance to hear the masters who continue the joik song tradition. Ijahis idja is Finland’s only music event where you can enjoy Sámi vocal music.