Your ultimate guide to Vappu 2023 in Helsinki
Everything you need to know about May Day celebrations in Helsinki
May Day, also known as “Vappu” in Finland, is a highly regarded celebration in the country. As a tourist it is in your interest to understand the nature of this festival as it has a special place in a Finns heart.
While the history of May Day in Finland includes some political undertones, these aspects do not primarily drive the approximately 36-hour non stop festivities filled with joy and revelry that Finns enjoy every year. In Finland, in addition to church festivities, there are two official days off, May Day and Independence Day. This of course means that this lively event is officially acknowledged in the Finnish calendar and as such considered a “advantage gained” that Finns are determined to preserve. Therefore its something of a civic duty to go out and party, and indicate that while political movements may come and go, a citizens riht to cork a champagne bottle must remain untouched.
This guide will help the occasional visitor or tourist understand what this special day is about and how he or she may get the most out of it.
Celebrations kicked off with a public sponge bath on May Day eve.
The festivities kick off on the May Day eve, or “Vappu Aatto” in finnish. At this time, the Aalto University student union takes the lead in washing Havis Amanda’s statue with foam at Kauppatori, while the public cheers them on. Once the statue is gleaming, she is “crowned” by fitting her with he own giant size matriculation cap. The night then proceeds with an array of lively gatherings throughout the city.
The spunge bath and the crowning gather large crowds and its is recomened you get to the Havis Amanda statue by around 16.00 or 16.30 the latest or otherwise you simply might not be able to get a view of the activities.
You will be able to catch the atmosphere by strolling around the Esplanadi park which is located right next to the statue of Havis Amanda. As the evening sets you are just a short walk away from Crystal Show Club. At Crystal Show Club the party continues even as the sun sets. The club is open every night from 21 – 05.
Your guide to the key locations in Helsinki this Vappu
And the party continues the next day
Part of the eternal appeal among the Finns is how the party continus the next day. May Day truly embodies the essence of the English phrase “the morning after” as even after a night of enthusiastic partying, it’s almost seen as a badge of honor to bounce back and keep the celebrations alive bright and early the very next day.
With less sleep that usual the night befoer, among many, you could desicribe the mood as enthousiastic but still a bit mellow and forgiving. The best place to be on May Day is the Kaivopuisto park where thousands will arrive early in the morning with a serious intent on getting drunk on champagne. The pretext is a civilised picnic. There are other activities taking place in the park too and as a result Kaivopuisto park is a pretty interesting place to visit on May Day (again arive early).
Nato or no Nato, Hakaniemi remains firmly red
There is another aspect to the May Day celebrations as well. May Day marks the beginning of warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the rebirth of nature. May Day is also observed as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, recognizing the achievements and rights of the working class. And thats definitely the context it is celebrated in by an increasingly smaller number of Finns. Nevertheless the celebrations are grounded around Hakaniemi market, and provide a great way for a toursist to experience how part of the city is celebrating and the other part remains communist – or well lets say commited to the cause.
The best party in town..
Is at Crystal Show Club. Long acknowledged as the best strip club in Helsinki we work hard to offer our clientele the best experience possible. We have friendly and welcoming staff and beautiful international dancers offering a safe environment to party every night 21 – 05. And Vappu is no different. Therefore we are popular spot with tourists who which to continue the party after a stroll outdoors. Thanks to our central location, in Helsinki center you are never more then a few minutes walk away from the club.
What to wear: A costume
Vappus is a light hearted festival that spanss the country. The airport and a bank will be the only places where any kind of mask or custome may not appropriate attire.
What to wear: Matriculation Cap
The official street wear for many people. The streets will be filled with people wearing their matriculation caps.
What to wear: Balloons
Balloons are popular and will be sold all across the city. Hold i inyour hand or attach it to a piece of clothing. They will help you blend in as well as help your friends identify you in a crowd.
What to look out for: Teekkarit
The student union members are recognizeable from their overalls. These are the pros, who started partying for 2-3 weeks ago. Friendly and mostly approachable.
What to look out for: Nipples
Casual encounters are both not uncommon and encouraged, to a degree. The term “Vappu Heila” means your harmless, casual May day companion. Get ready to be approached.When in Rome..
What to look out for: G-Strings
This is not required attire, but as mentioned above this is the season for coupling. Wear one or spot one. A sure sign of spring and perhaps something else.
What to look out for: Marches
The political left likes to get together and march. It is done to demonstrate their sincere dedication and commitment to improving your quality of life.
What to eat and drink: Tippaleipä
A traditional pastry popular during Vappu. Characterized by its distinctive funnel cake-like structure, consisting of thin strands of dough formed into a tangled nest. The main ingredients include flour, sugar, eggs, and milk. The dough is typically piped or drizzled into hot oil for deep-frying, creating its signature irregular shape. The frying process gives the pastry a crispy and golden-brown exterior, while the inside remains soft and tender.
What to eat and drink: Sima
A traditional Vappu drink. Sima is often homemade, lightly fermented beverage with a mildly sweet and tangy taste. It is often compared to a non-alcoholic or low-alcohol version of mead due to its honey content. The main ingredients in sima include water, sugar, brown sugar, lemon, and active dry yeast. Sometimes, raisins are added as a natural sweetener and indicator of when the fermentation process is complete.
What to eat and drink: Champagne
Through the Vapu celebrations there is one thing you need to get your hands on. And that is a few bottles of champagne. A vappu without chanpagne is like cbhristmas without presents. And thats why it often runs out from stores and possibly restaurants. Get yourself a bottle from the Alko nearest to your hotel.
What to eat and drink: The Vappu Piknik
In Helsinki, on May Day or Vappu päivä, masses of people arrive in Kaivopuisto well preapred. The right nutrition fuels the parties and those with foresight are well equipped to deal with cold weather and rain. Nothing shall stand in the way of the Vappu Piknik.
Image materials attribution:
Vappu March – Original photo by Markus Koljonen
Sima – Original photo by Mako
The Teekkarit – Original photo by Karri Huhtanen
Tippaleipä – Original photo by Tiaa Monto