Helsinki – not everyone’s favourite destination during November/December. Cold, wet and miserable, with top temperatures around zero, and lowest recorded temperatures of -30C, it has been said at this time of year even St Nick avoids the place like the plague. However the Holiday Taxis team love Helsinki. Here’s why.
So what is it that attracts some of the world’s most successful, affluent, young entrepreneurs to the capital of Finland? Slush is what, and I don’t mean the melting snow kind that soaks trousers and socks, and ruins shoes. In the few short years since its inception, the Slush start-up conference has attracted increasing numbers of new start-ups, digital entrepreneurs, and the leading players in digital apps and marketing techniques.
The 2016 conference, held on the 30th November and 1st December, attracted 17,500 attendees, and streamed live content to an additional 1 million viewers. With over 600 tech journalists from around the world, 2,300 start-ups seeking backing from the 1,100 venture capitalists who attended, Slush is becoming a digital convention not to be missed.
While the winter in Helsinki is probably not everyone’s idea of a favourite holiday destination, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the culture, and live for a few days like a true Nordic. With Finland being the birthplace of the sauna, you would expect plenty of genuine Finnish style saunas, and you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Saunas can be found everywhere from hotels to public locations, where you pay your fee and are shown to your own sauna cubicle. A few discreet enquiries may even find you one where you can go totally native. Leaping out of your steaming sauna and rolling in the crisp white snow – or slush if you pick a bad day. Skating on open air rinks is another favourite pastime of the winter loving Finns.
With Christmas round the corner, Helsinki celebrates in style. When the Christmas lights are turned on in Aleksanterinkatu Street on the 23rd November, the city comes alive with traditional Christmas markets. The largest of these are the Women’s Christmas Market from the 3-7th December at Wanha Satama in Katajanokka, the Ornamo’s Design Christmas Market on the 5-7th December, and the St Thomas Christmas Market on the 8-21 December in Senate Square.
Enjoy a traditional festival of light, the Lucia Parade, where a young maiden receives a crown of candles in Helsinki’s Cathedral before the parade ends in Senate Square. Take time out to visit the Seurasaari Christmas Path, a free to enjoy glimpse into old Finnish Christmas traditions and fairy tales for all the family on the 14th December. Add to that the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers, and the many Christmas concerts around the city and there is something for all the family to enjoy.
There’s more. Just when you thought it could get better, it does. Helsinki’s New Year celebrations, held this year in Kansalaistori Square, are not just about welcoming in 2017, but the beginning of a host of organised activities to celebrate the centenary of Finland’s independence.
Even if you don’t fancy the sub-zero temperatures of Helsinki during the winter, but like the idea of Finland in the summer, 2017 could be the year to visit. With centennial activities the year through, some serious excursion planning needs to be carried out before booking. If on the other hand you’ve devised an app everybody will need to download, check out the 2017 Slush convention dates, and start looking forward to raising some much needed capital.