Playing air guitar added to the national inventory of living heritage in Finland

Make Air, Not War!

As a phenomenon, playing air guitar has been around for a long time. In Finland, it was popularised by the Air Guitar World Championships, organised since 1996 in Oulu, Finland. Oulu Culture Events Association, which organises the Air Guitar World Championships, has now added playing air guitar to the National Inventory of Living Heritage of the Finnish Heritage Agency.

Winner of the Air Guitar World Championships 2023, Seven Seas from Japan rocking on stage

Nanami “Seven Seas” Nagura, Air Guitar World Champion 2023. Photo: Roosa-Maria Kauppila.

Unesco World Heritage Convention protects and preserves living heritage. Finland joined the Convention in 2013 and Finnish Heritage Agency is the executor in Finland.

The National Inventory of Living Heritage is a constantly evolving source of living heritage in Finland, which already has over 240 examples from 500 different organisations or upholders in seven different languages.

Air Guitar World Championships are working on accessibility as part of the European Capital of Culture Oulu2026 programme. The aim of the project is to make playing air guitar more well known and accessible for everyone!

Playing air guitar in the National Inventory of Living Heritage (only in Finnish): https://wiki.aineetonkulttuuriperinto.fi/wiki/Ilmakitaran_soittaminen

Information about the Unesco World Heritage Convention: https://www.aineetonkulttuuriperinto.fi/en/

Sauna is now hot!

Sauna culture is a part of the Oulu2026 cultural programme and we took part in a sauna discussion event in Tartu on May 10–11. The aim is to set a world record for sauna bathing at the beginning of June. Sauna culture is now in high demand both here in Finland and elsewhere, so let’s throw more steam!

Oulun Rantasaunaseuran pop up -saunan edustajalla seuran edustajia ja Oulu2026-väkeä.

In the photo are Katri Kärkkäinen (left) and Piia Rantala-Korhonen from Oulu2026 and Katri Tenetz, Marko Asell, Jussi Pöllä and Kati Koivunen from Oulun rantasaunaseura.

Sauna discussions about peace in Tartu

Tallinn is a familiar city for many, but this year you should head to Tartu, one of the European Capitals of Culture this year. Oulu2026 was present on the sauna benches at the Naked Truth two-day sauna event in Tartu, on the shore of the Emajõgi River. The pop-up sauna by Oulun rantasaunaseura can be assembled and moved around with a trailer and it was one of the 15 mobile saunas put together at the beach for the event. Despite the chilly weather, the event attracted a lot of people. Many wanted to try every sauna, and there was a possibility to refresh oneself by dipping in the river.

Hannele Valkeeniemi, Director of the Estonian Institute in Finland, started to brainstorm the event after visiting Kesän Sauna (Sauna of Summer), a floating wood-burning sauna in Oulu. The concept of sauna discussions is already familiar from the hot sauna discussions of Peace Machine in the Oulu2026 bid book, which were kicked off already in the autumn of 2021 in Pehkola. The goal is to learn to talk to each other constructively while listening to others and to disagree on issues without crossing swords. The discussions borrow the Timeout method developed by the Timeout-Foundation, which has been modified to suit the sauna benches. In the harsh heat conversations are condensed, eventually even the words run out, and the peaceful atmosphere of the sauna unites the people sweating on the benches.

Peace was discussed in the sauna, a topic that is even more current today than was anticipated when the Peace Machine was planned. The Peace Machine wants to reunite people, act as a counterforce to hate speech, cyberbullying and fake news. One dictator can start a war, but it takes each and every one of us to maintain peace. In the age of faceless calling out on social media, it is a good idea to stop and take a look in the mirror and think about how one could meet other people more appreciatively in conversations.

The mobile Oulu2026 pop-up sauna from Tuira

For the event, actives of Oulun Rantasaunaseura Marko Asell and Jussi Pöllä designed and built a sauna that can be taken apart and re-assembled. The material of the sauna is birch plywood, and its steams can accommodate around ten sauna bathers at a time. In Tartu, sauna discussions were conducted by Kati Koivunen and Katri Tenetz. According to them, peace-themed discussions are well suited for saunas, and they will be continued in some form also in Oulu. The Oulu2026-sauna can be tried no later than during Oulu Days in September. There have been a lot of inquiries and the sauna might also be seen in next year’s European Capital of Culture in Chemnitz, Germany. And, of course, in 2026 in Oulu!

Come and set a world record for sauna bathing

Do you want to be involved in setting a world record for sauna bathing? Visit Estonia, the Finnish Sauna Society, Visit Finland and the International Sauna Federation challenge everyone to sauna benches on International Sauna Day. The world record is set when a record number of people on International Sauna Day state they have been sauna bathing at the Facebook page of the record. The record will be set between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on June 8. You can sign up for the record in advance here (opens in a new tab), in which case you will receive a record link with reminders directly to your email.

Open call: Climbing over Oulu – Revisiting the landscapes of the hidden city

Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde from France, partnering with Flow Productions from Oulu, will begin implementing their project that was selected as part of the European Capital of Culture programme this June in Oulu. The ensemble will include participatory urban walks and pop-up events, as well as a site performance by French and Finnish artists.

Ryhmä ihmisiä osallistumassa kävelylle Kreikassa liittyen Revisiting the landscapes of Eleusis -teokseen.

Urban walks have been organized also in Elefsina, Greece. Photo: Loïc Salfati


This summer, 8-10 June, there will be a free workshop open to all, in the form of urban walks. In addition, a pop-up event organised by French and Finnish circus and dance artists will be held at Aalto Silo on June 13th. You can participate in the three-day workshops on one or more days, at times of your choosing. The discussion takes place in English.

From Saturday 8th to Thursday 13th of June 2024, the artistic and scientific team of the French cultural organisation PPCM – National Centre for Contemporary Heritage, circus and music (Eleftérios Kechagioglou, director and Amine Slimani, architect specialized on contemporary heritage), in cooperation with Flow Productions (Oulu) and Valentino Tignanelli (architect in charge of the renovation of Alvar Aalto’s Silo) will start the workshops of “Climbing over Oulu – Revisiting the landscapes of the hidden city”.

This call is open to all: artists, architects, students, but also all Oulu’s inhabitants that are willing to rediscover the hidden parts of the city and to revisit the links between the centre of the city and the Meri-Toppila area around Alvar Aalto’s silo and its renovation project.

The action aims to highlight the city’s human, industrial and intangible heritage, based on encounters with local residents and their desire to activate the landscapes of Oulu through art, sports and leisure activities. The project will take the form of a three days in situ workshops, based on the concepts of crossing and walking in the city. You may participate for a half-day, a day or all of the three days + the final show and gathering on Thursday 13th at Aalto silo.

In this first session of Revisiting the landscapes of Oulu, we aim to bring together the plural voices of the city, and give them the floor of expression in two ways. First, by inviting them to be the guides on some new paths traversing the city and visiting new emergent ‘Symbols’. Secondly, by inviting them to come to the site of Alvar Aalto’s silo in Meri-Toppila, and participate in the activation of this space under renovation.

An artistic event is scheduled on Thursday 13th of June in the early evening in order to celebrate the end of the workshops.

Participation to the workshops is free of charge.


Saturday 8.6.
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Meeting and introducing the concept in Culture Centre Valve, Hallituskatu 7
1-2 p.m. Lunch in town (at the participant’s own expense)
2-5.30 p.m. Walking from Valve Cultural Centre to Alvar Aalto’s Silo through Pikisaari, linking landscapes, citizens and projects.

Sunday 9.6.
2-5.30 p.m. Walking from Valve Cultural Centre to Alvar Aalto’s Silo through Tuira
Linking landscapes, citizens and projects

Monday 10.6.
9.30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2-5.30 p.m.
Walking around Meri-Toppila starting from Alvar Aalto’s Silo

Thursday 13.6.
5.30-6.30 p.m. Site specific performance of Climbing over Oulu (Work in progress)
Circus artists and musicians PPCM and from Oulu performing by Alvar Aalto Silo, Alvar Aallon katu 5

Questions and signing up for the workshops: pirjo@flowprod.fi, 0400-938164

Let us know which day and time you would participate.


Join the Wild Herb Celebration on 8th of June!

Two people at a stand in a park on a sunny day

Wild Herb Celebration on Saturday, June 8, 2024 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is an event for the whole family at Åström park in Oulu (Isokatu 1), where the possibilities of the nature are presented extensively: nature’s wild products, food, cosmetics and experiences! Welcome to enjoy live music by folk band Rommakko, a wild herb walk, interesting speeches and meet the local producers. Free entry!

The programme from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. includes:

  • Local products: visit and buy from local producers for yourself or as a gift.
  • Experiential activities: take part in guided wild herb walk in English at 13.25 and check out the soap making demonstration (at 12.10 and 14.10) and cleanser for the household (at 13.10 and 15.00).
  • For the little ones in the family: Pony rides and a hobby horse track will keep children entertained throughout the whole day, free of charge.
  • Expert talks such as using wild herbs in the kitchen and the potential of the non-wood forest products sector. The speeches will be held in Finnish.

Join us for a memorable day with nature and local culture – see you in Åström park!

Wild Herb Celebration is part of the Oulu2026 Arctic Food Lab cultural programme. At the event, you can give feedback and participate in a raffle where you can win natural local products.

The event is organised by the Northern Ostrobothnian Nature Industry Entrepreneurs Association (Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Luontoalan yrittäjät ry) together with local actors.

TOP3 tips for current European Capitals of Culture

We asked this year’s teams of European Capitals of Culture for highlights for the coming summer. This is how we were answered from Norway, Estonia, and Austria.

Bodø, Norway, TOP3

Midsummer Mystery, Breivika Beach 22.6.

Bodø2024’s big summer opening event will be a celebration of landscape, summer, and the sea, with a strong focus on audience participation. We don’t want to reveal too much but can say that this being Midsummer, fire (as in bonfires) will also feature. Don’t miss this spectacular event produced by the British company Walk the Plank!

Midsummer Midchief. Kuva / Photo: David Engmo, Bodø2024

Kjerringøy Land Art Biennale (KLAB), from 6.7. onwards

Kjerringøy Land Art Biennale, Europe’s only land art biennale, invites every other year artists working with various genres to investigate, transform, reflect and communicate with the landscape. Artists work with 100% natural and degradable materials found on location. Integrated into the landscape, the works have a temporary character, which means that they gradually disappear. The opening of this special edition of KLAB will take place in Kjerringøy 6-7 July, and feature new artworks both along the Kjerringøy Road and by the shores of the stunning Nevelsfjord, a short drive away.

Kjerringøy Land Art Biennale 1 Rita Marhaug & Tracy Kelly, Observance (Tilstede) 2015. Kuva/photo: Marie Peyre

Culture along the Nordlandsruta (The Nordland Trekking Trail), 27.7.–17.8.

The Nordlandsruta is a 650km long marked hiking trail that runs along the border between Norway and Sweden. Along the route are Northern Norway’s three largest mountains, Norway’s second largest lake, around fifty fishing lakes, several glaciers and unique natural and cultural landscapes. The route goes through six reindeer herding districts, five Sami language areas, three national parks and a number of protected areas. A joint tour will be organised along the route in summer 2024, with various artistic events at selected locations.

Nordlandsruta. Kuva/Photo: Zdeno Dvorak.











Read more from the website of Bodø2024 (opens in a new tab).

Tartu, Estonia, TOP3

Kissing Tartu – concert show and a collective kiss, 18.5.

On 18th of May, European Capital of Culture Tartu will witness a historic event that will debunk the image of modest and cool Estonians. We will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Estonia’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest and share a kiss together. The open-air concert will feature some of the most beloved Eurovision songs from Estonia and the rest of Europe, and at the same time tells the story of Tartu, Estonia, and Europe. Town Hall Market, Tartu. Free entry.

Kissing Tartu.

“Forgotten Peoples”-concert, 15.6.

The Choir of the Paris Philharmonic Orchestra performs “Forgotten Peoples”, a work dedicated to Finno-Ugrian indigenous people. The choral composition, a masterpiece by Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, will be heard at the Estonian National Museum and sung in Vadja and Isuri languages and in the Ingrian Finnish dialect. The interpretation of the French choir is interwoven with captivating video and lighting design. Estonian National Museum (ERM), Tartu. Tickets 17–34 euros.

Estonian National Museum. Kuva/Photo: Tartu2024.



Peipsi Food Street 175 km, 17.–18.8.

Dozens of pop-up restaurants spread out on the shores of Lake Peipus, serving local food from the region’s forests, fields and of course, Lake Peipus. The festival includes cultural programme and as a novelty, you can take part in the workshops held by different chefs during the festival. Municipality of Lake Peipus. Free entry.

Peipsijärvi / Lake Peipus. Kuva/Photo: Ahto Sooaru.

Read more from the website of Tartu2024 (opens in a new tab)

Salzkammergut, Austria, TOP3

sudhaus. Art with Salt & Water, until 31.10.

It was once called “white gold”: salt is a crucial element and has shaped the entire Salzkammergut region. sudhaus is the central art exhibition of Bad Ischl Salzkammergut 2024. With the international and interregional participation of renowned artists, the topics of salt and water are presented in the form of objects, sculptures, installations, films, photography and sound works. The exhibition is open in Bad Ischl until the end of October.

sudhaus, Motoi Yamamoto. Kuva/Photo: Mitchell Kearney

Salzkammerqueer. Queer communities in rural areas & Salzkammer Pride 16.5.

Salzkammerqueer aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences among like-minded people and to provide a home base and infrastructure for an active LGBTIQ* community in the Salzkammergut region that will exist beyond the project period. In addition to various networking events, the first Salzkammer Pride will take place in Bad Ischl on June 15, 2024.

Salzkammerqueer. Kuva/Photo: Karolina Jackowska

New Salt. Festival for Sonic Exploration and Digital Art, 5.–8.9.

NEW SALT is a series of events for experimental music positions and digital art that will be presented in different formats and places within the Salzkammergut region. NEW SALT  condenses style-influencing musical and aesthetic positions and builds a bridge from contemporary composition to avantgarde electronica all the way to danceable club music, while opening up spaces for discussion and expanding points of view. The project will culminate in a four-day festival in Bad Ischl in September 2024.

New Salt, Rojin Sharafi. Kuva/Photo: David Višnjič



Read more from the website of Salzkammergut2024 (opens in a new tab).

Our own Capital of Culture year starts in about a year and a half. In the meantime, it is definitely worth taking a closer look at this year’s offerings!