Read our updated 2022 midsummer guide here.
What you need to know about Midsummer
Midsummer is also known as Summer Solstice and marks the middle of the summer, and typically (if not absolutely) means that the Finnish summer, which is known for its 24 hour sunlight, slowly begins growing darker. The locals speak about Midsummer using its Finnish name Juhannus, or Jussi for short. Typically the streets of Helsinki will be quite deserted during Jussi as everyone has retreated to their summer homes and are busy barbecuing and drinking beer. You can expect most restaurants to be shut as well.
When is Jussi?
Friday 23.6. is mid summer’s eve or Juhannus aatto, during which most of the alcohol is typically consumed. It is in fact the evening to which most of the people have been counting hours ever since Vappu.
Saturday 24.6.2017 is the mid summer’s day which for some odd reason has less formal meaning to the native Finns, as typically as long as you worry about the mid summers eve, your mid summers day is sorted.
What is Midsummer
The Official version:
A pure celebration of light, at its peak during the midsummer. Its a time to dance in the fields, enjoy the purifying sauna and dip in a refreshing Finnish lake from which you may drink directly. Family and friends gather and eat well while enjoying a nice glass of wine. The kids play in perfect harmony and wash the dog. After the meal everyone gathers around a bonfire (kokko) and enjoys the quiet nature around them.
Midsummer’s magicals spells
A chapter of their own are the traditional midsummer’s magical spells. The women teach the kids different traditional mid summers magic rites which guarantee you marry well or are somehow very lucky in the future. Everyone listens carefully and participates passionately, boys and young men run around gathering the different kinds of weeds and summer flowers typically required by the magical recipes.
The commoners version
The man packs the wife and kids in the car as early as possible to avoid the traffic. Its made clear to the whole family driving down, that everyone who needs to pee, needs to do it before we leave the city, as there will be no stops made on the way. (All single males travel to rock festivals and other social gatherings where single women are expected to be present).
Upon arrival to family summer cottage, the man heats up the sauna, consumes between 4 and 7 beers an hour, and opens a new bottle of Koskenkorva (Kossu – the traditional clear spirit) every 4-5 hours. Often close friends have been invited with their families and the men spend their evening consuming alcohol in a very distinguished manner, often sampling a range of spirits, whiskey, with a few bottles of wine and beer in between the hard alcohols.
The highlight of the evening is naturally conversations around the bonfire, and then the visit to the local emergency center for treatment of the burns on the hands and face.
5 Most typical causes of death during Jussi:
- Drowning in a lake
- Killed by a drunk driver
- Falling face down in the bonfire, drunk
- Getting stabbed by a drunk relative
- Suicide by shotgun
“Stuck” in Helsinki for Midsumer?
So the for the real experience, there is really no substitute, you should find a way to get to the countryside preferably with some of the natives. By staying in the city you will get the opportunity to experience the Helsinki architecture mostly undisturbed. You may experience trouble finding lunch and dinner options. The evening entertainment is guaranteed since , the place where you will find the best striptease in Helsinki, the Crystal Show Club will be open every night until 4 am.
We have collected some suggestions of what you might want to try if you are spending midsummer 2017 in Helsinki:
Allas Seapool: An open air seapool & restaurant at the heart of the city. Weather permitting this might be a cool experience. Swimming, Sauna and drinks. Not sure on the Juhannus opening hours – so please check at the website before hand to make sure.
Löyly: Another new urban oasis with a restaurant, bar, swimming and sauna.Weather permitting swimming is possible, but this place is also fun to visit just because of the architecture. Open until 2 am on Juhannus. Located about 10mins from the city center by foot, at the southern end of the city, by the sea.
Seurasaari: An island just 10 mins from the city center, accessible via taxi, offering something closer to the traditional Juhannus experience , complete with nature and a bonfire. Quite a bit of things happening, traditional dances, musical shows and so on. Also activities for the kids.
Uunisaari: A small island just off Kaivopuisto, has a restaurant, Sauna and a small beach. Very cosy and they have some social happening taking place all through the weekend, witha DJ & live music etc. You get there by a literally 2 minute boat ride.