Every year, the Silence Festival brings performance art, circus acts, classical music and unique collaborations to the idyllic village of Kaukonen for a week-long artistic tour de force.
The bright evening sunlight filters into the community building, creating a strange crimson light that infuses the air itself with tension. In the center of the hall, a woman poses like a sculpture. As the music begins, the sculpture moves with breath-taking force, carrying the entire audience along with her on a journey of humanity, emotions and fragility. This was Scottish dancer Iona Kewney’s performance at the 2018 Silence Festival, where she joined dozens of other artists in elevating the artistic and cultural landscape in Lapland. And this year’s festival looks to be bigger and better than ever.
WHAT IS THE SILENCE FESTIVAL?
So it’s a dance festival, you ask. Not exactly. A music festival, then? Well … no. The Silence Festival is a lot like the Ounasjoki river—fluid, changing, and full of life. And just as hard to nail down.
The Silence Festival began with circus artist Sakari Männistö and producer Joonas Martikainen wanting to fill the idyllic village of Kaukonen in southern Kittilä with world-class performing arts and culture. And for over a decade, the festival has brought performance art, dancers, contemporary circus performances and live concerts of all sorts. Under the constant daylight of the Midnight Sun, the village is transformed from the performances, music and exhibitions in the buildings and surrounding nature.
Previous years have seen dramatic readings on the shores of the river running through the village, intimate modern dance routines, ethereal collaborations of classical instruments and sculpture-like performance art, and mind-bending concerts “performed” by plants.
Perhaps former art director Outi Tarkianen put it best:
— Nature here is intense, but so is the festival. In general, one could say that the longer the artists are here, the more amazed they are. Artistic encounters are strongest when artists from different fields are side-by-side. And when everyone is eating is here in Kaukonen village, eating at the same festival restaurant, sleeping in the same village accommodation and attending the same performances, the intimacy and interaction is quite special and reaches new depths.
2019 marks the 11th Silence Festival, and artists and audience will converge on the small village in northern Finland in early June. Some acts include dark, enigmatic solo dance performances by award-winning Danish dancer and choreographer Kitt Johnson, aerial acrobat Tom Brand, and a screening of the silent romantic dramedy Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, considered by some to be the most beautiful film of all time.
Live musical performances include Death Speak, a quartet concert confronting death; Quantum Tangle, a fusion of traditional Inuit throat singing, spoken world storytelling and blues-flavored folk rock; and Elifantree, an experimental and improvisational trek that flirts with jazz and pop music.
Collaborations include juggling and accordions, ambient concerts, contemporary absurdist circus performances and more.
Lapland’s summers are full of festivals and fun. Begin planning your stay now.