Ten Finnish festivals to finish the year

We’re into the home stretch on 2009, with only three months left to enjoy. Then, the calendar page flips over, and we take on 2010. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways left to make the rest of this year memorable. In Finland, home to some of the strangest celebrations on the planet, you can find a few interesting distractions – and they’ll make for great stories when you get home. Of course, there are a few mixed in that aren’t so strange but could still be pretty interesting.

1. Rovaniemi Design Week
Head up to the capital of Lapland to enjoy its first ever design week. On its own, this seems pretty mundane … until you get a sense of what’s scheduled to happen. The event will host the 24th Design Challenge, which involves competing to develop the Arctic Circle: Santa’s home base.
September 28-October 4, 2009

2. Baltic Herring Fair
This festival dates back to 1743 in Helsinki and is the oldest event dedicated to Finland’s most important marine product fish. Look for it in the Old Market Square.
October 4-10, 2009

3. Carnival of Light at Linnamäki Amusement Park
The Carnival of Light involves fire acrobats and the Pumpkin Fest parade, not to mention an array of ghosts and witches. A laser show and Harry Potter-themed skating rink tie it all together.
October 8-19, 2009

4. Skiexpo
This is the largest winter sports fair in the Nordic corner of the world and includes downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and other bone-chilling experiences.
October 30- November 1, 2009

5. Etnosoi! Festival
Listen to Hungarian Gypsy music groups Romengo, Nadara (from Transylvania) and Dobet Gnahoré from Ivory Coast thanks to the Global Music Centre and Centre for Romany Art.
November 4-8, 2009

6. Moving in November
Like to dance? Or, just watch? The Moving in November festival brings contemporary dance acts from across Europe. This year, enjoy two Finnish premieres: riffy by Tommi Kitti (love the name) and Moe by Heli Meklin and Michael Laub.
November 3-8, 2009

7. Helsinki Motor Show
This is the only annual auto exhibition in Scandinavia! Go to the Helsinki Fair Center where you’ll see the work of Finnish importers and manufacturers from around the world. Look for a few concept cars while you’re there.
November 26-29, 2009

8. Ladies’ Christmas Market
Load up on locally made products from the women of Finland at The Christmas Market at Wanha Satama. On the shelves, you’ll find plenty of jewelry, ceramics, leather, woodwork, clothing, baked goods and Christmas goodies.
December 2-6, 2009

9. The Declaration of Christmas Peace
Spend Christmas Eve participating in a tradition seven centuries old: the declaring Christmas peace in the Turku Cathedral.
December 24, 2009

10. New Year at the Senate Square
Ring in the new year at Senate Square, where you’ll be treated to professional firework displays and all the liquor you can store in your pockets.
December 31, 2009