Helsinki: When to go
When you decide to go to Helsinki depends on one real factor: how do you feel about the cold and darkness? If you’re a night lover who enjoys partying after dark then the winter months (December to February) are the time for you to visit Helsinki. Because Finland is so close to the Arctic Circle, winter days are very short, dark and gloomy. Culturally, however, this is the period in which Helsinki sparkles, with fantastic Christmas markets (including a whole Christmas-themed street), concerts of every description, skating, skiing, snowshoeing and sauna and ice swimming.
However, if ice, snow and darkness are not enticing to you, then summer more than redresses the balance and can be the time to go to Helsinki. Just as the days are short in winter, so in summer they become long and full of sunlight, giving the famous ‘White Nights’ where the sun seems not to ever fully set.
The summer is a wonderful period to explore Helsinki as many residents leave for their holiday homes in the countryside, leaving the city less full of hustle and bustle. Open-air concerts are common, particularly on the fortress islands of Suomenlinna, and Helsinki’s music scene comes alive with festivals and carnivals. Everything really begins during Helsinki Week, which takes place around Helsinki Day on the 12th of June. There is an annual Samba Carnival, a heavy metal festival (Tuska – Pain in English), and the urban rhythm music festival, Flow. There are also numerous outdoor theatre events as well as sports in the stadium. As well as all the activities going on, there’s also a great deal of swimming on beaches and in lakes, hiking and other outdoor sporting activity to be enjoyed. If you visit Helsinki during Midsummer, expect bonfires and parties galore.