This year’s mural will be located in Tuira

The residents of Oulu have voted for Tuira as the location for the Oulu2026 mural. The artist selection and the exact location of the artwork will be announced in August.

The public vote for this year’s Oulu2026 mural has concluded. A total of 1521 votes were cast, and Tuira emerged as the winner with approximately 25 percent of the votes. Ritaharju received the second highest number of votes, followed by Toppila. In 2022, Rajakylä won the vote with Tuira coming in second place.

The mural will be realized in Tuira in early autumn as part of the Oulu2026 cultural program. A panel of public art professionals will choose the mural artist from the portfolios submitted in last year’s global open call for artists. The selected artist and the specific location of the mural in Tuira will be announced in August.

The locations for the Oulu2026 murals are selected through annual neighborhood voting, which is open to all city residents. Participants in the public vote have the opportunity to share memories and stories related to their chosen neighborhood, which the invited artist can use as inspiration for their artwork. The neighborhood voting for the 2024 mural will open in the autumn of 2023.

During the European Capital of Culture year 2026, the mural will be created in the city center. Various activities, such as art tours and competitions, will be organized around all the artworks.

Rajakylän muraali

Year 2022 mural in Rajakylä

+358 50468 6521


62 new projects for Oulu2026 culture programme

Oulu is a European Capital of Culture in 2026. The Oulu2026 culture programme in 39 municipalities is realised by local, national and international actors. The programme in Oulu is coordinated and managed by the Oulu Culture Foundation. The Foundation provides co-funding for projects. The entire culture programme will be published in 2025.

Banneri kuvituskuva Oulu2026

Oulu and the entire northern region of Finland will be filled with culture, art and events in the coming years. We arranged Open call 2022 that was specifically aimed for large-scale projects that take several years to prepare or carry out. Nearly 300 project proposals were received: about 90% of the proposals came from Finland, of which 65% came from the Oulu2026 region. 62 of the proposals have now been selected to complement the Oulu2026 culture programme.

In addition to the projects now selected, the Oulu2026 culture programme includes approximately 50 projects that have been involved since the application phase of the European Capital of Culture year, and the programme will expand further with the We are Culture Open Call in 2024–2025. The culture programme is divided into three themes: Brave Hinterland, Wild City and Cool Contrasts.

The majority of projects under the cultural programme are carried out under an external executive production leadership and they are selected and co-funded through the Open Calls. The next open call will be We are Culture in 2024–2025, which is call for applications for individual and communal projects.

The construction of the cultural programme will continue, and the entire programme will be published in 2025.

We will add information about the projects later this year.


Selected partners – Open Call 2022

Brave Hinterland – nature, art and life on the edge of Europe

The Association for Rural Culture and Education

Kivilompolo Kukkakollektiivi (workgroup)

Reality Research Center

Oulu Safaris Oy

Lumo Company

ArtAr-luonnontaiteenkeskus (workgroup)

Antye Greie

The Northern Opera Company

KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre (Municipality of Ii)

The Mustarinda Association

Kulttuuriosuuskunta G-voima / Vaara-kollektiivi

Municipality of Kempele

Folk Extreme Oy

Oulu Writers Association

Erika Benke

Municipality of Liminka

The Danish National Museum / Ships department

Oulun Työväen Pursiseura ry

Kajaanin kaupunginteatteri (Kajaani City Theatre)


Unique local flavours and experiences 

Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Oulu

Pohjois-Suomen Messut ry

Eija Ranta (workgroup)

Foodium Oy

Varjakan kyläyhdistys ry


Wild City – art and culture belong to everyone and everywhere

Kulttuuriyhdistys Bio Huvimylly (workgroup)

Limingan kansanopiston kannattajayhdistys ry

Akola Friends (workgroup)

The Aine Art Museum / City of Tornio

Perfect Circle Oy

Teatteri Telakka ry

Le Plus Petit Cirque du Monde (PPCM)

Instituto Iberoamericano de Finlandia


Oulun Rantasaunaseura ry

K2 Taiteilijatalo ry

Routa Company

Talous ja Nuoret TAT ry

Taito Pohjois-Pohjanmaa ry (Regional Crafts Association)

Oulu Theatre

Kulttuuriradio Oulu ry

Romanikulttuurin museon tukiyhdistys ry

Pikisaaren Villatehtaat ry

Kulttuurikiihdyttämö ry

PROTO – Designers’ association of Northern Finland

Vanha Villatehdas ry


Festivals in Europe’s spotlight

Varjo / Pro Piknik Festivals Oy

OstariFestari / Höyhtyän Kulttuuriyhdistys ry

The Irish Festival of Oulu / Irish Music Society of Oulu ry

Concreate Urban Art Festival / Helsinki Urban Art ry

Oulu Music Video Festival

JoJo – Oulu Dance Centre

Solstice Festival / four-one-seven oy

Valentin Vaala Film Festival / Brandstein/Ilmestys Oy / Municipality of Vaala

Puolanka Pessimism Festival / Puolanka Pessimism Association

Kuusamo Nature Photo / City of Kuusamo


Cool Contrasts – power to create something new

Pyhäsalmen Tanssi ry

Rauhankone ry

Oulu University of Applied sciences

The Ostrobothnian Contemporary Music Festival / Nykymusiikkiseura Lokakuu ry

The Finnish Light Art Society FLASH ry

Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu

Screaming Men’s Choir, Mieskuoro Huutajat ry / POSK tuotannot Oy


Brave Hinterland: Nature town Kuusamo

Kuusamo, on the eastern border of Finland, has become a meeting place for both nature and animals as well as people from all directions. Kuusamo is one of the most visited nature town in Finland. Unique nature of Kuusamo offers many possibilities to find a little explorer and great nature person inside you.

Kuusamo lies in Koillismaa, in the north-east corner of the old Oulu province. Kuusamo community centre is 217 kilometres from Oulu, 195 from Rovaniemi and 245 from Kajaani.

A flight from Kuusamo to Helsinki takes less than an hour and a drive from Kuusamo to Oulu two and a half. Kuusamo is also one of the snowiest areas in Finland with snow cover up to 80–90 centimetres.

Ruka is the most popular ski resort in Finland. 

In the third episode of the program series Brave Hinterland, Katariina van Earle went to explore Kuusamo’s history, present and the future.

(text in English)

This programme is the second part of the Brave Hinterland series commissioned by the Oulu2026. The programme is subtitled in Finnish and English.

The script and production of the program is the responsibility of the Oulu Cultural Events Association. The episode was filmed and edited by Saha Prod. The program is subtitled in Finnish and English.

Brave Hinterland program episodes

The success story of local food is the talk of the day –  Oulu2026 Arctic Food Lab awarded food and catering professionals

Nearly 100 food and catering industry professionals gathered in Voimala, Oulu to celebrate Valentine’s Day and local food. At the event, the first ever winners of Arctic Food Lab Newcomer, and Local Food Advocate and Public Choice Awards were also announced. The Arctic Food Lab programme and label were created to raise the profile of northern cuisine and to bring together actors in gastronomy and food culture. The Arctic Food Lab is part of the Oulu 2026 European Capital of Culture programme.

“We hope that tourists and visitors in Oulu will discover our magnificent food culture by tasting the local produce and meeting the local actors,”  said Piia Rantala-Korhonen, CEO of the Oulu Culture Foundation, Oulu 2026, in her opening speech at the event.


Picture Iina Tauriainen

Local food advocates were awarded with local products and diplomas

You will come across the Arctic Food Lab label on supermarket shelves and local restaurants. More than 50 northern food and catering industry operators have joined the local food network and nearly 200 products so far have received this prestigious label.

“The label guarantees that the product has been made from local ingredients from northern Finland or by local professionals,” says Niina Keränen, Project Manager for the Arctic Food Lab programme.

The Arctic Food Lab was launched a year ago, when the Oulu Cultural Foundation’s European Capital of Culture project got under way. The first diplomas for local food operators were presented at the Valentine’s Day event.

Päivi Kaukua from Yrttiaitta Saarento, which specialises on local wild herbs and berries, was awarded the Local Food Advocate of the Year. Kaukua was praised for her wide expertise and genuine love of locally produced food and ingredients foraged from nearby forests and fields. The Arctic Food Lab Newcomer diploma was awarded to Mikko Kukkohovi representing Vanhatien ravintola restaurant.

“The hallmarks of Vanhatien ravintola are the bold, out-of-the-box thinking and innovative cuisine,” said Niina Keränen from Arctic Food Lab, when listing the merits of the winner.

The Public Choice Award went to Kujala Farm, owned and run by Susanna and Timo Kujala. According to the praise for the business, the company has won the hearts of its customers and made a strong contribution in making the Arctic Food Lab label known.

Using media to boost success

With the right product and a pinch of ambition, there is nothing that can stop local products and entrepreneurs from becoming a national success. One such success story is Mari Palin from Vähäsarja Oy, whose Jemma products were finalists in the Finnish Recipe for Success 2023 food product competition.

“The sale of Jemma products has increased exponentially with the publicity from the competition. Succeeding in the competition levered us up onto a new level and we are employing many more people.”

The importance of social media influencers has increased significantly and more companies from a wider range of sectors are now keen to collaborate with them. Noora Väänänen, one of the Oulu-based Foodbytwins influencers pointed out that social media has in fact become the main marketing channel for many businesses. Alongside the company’s own channels, they often rely on influencers. At its best, successful influencer collaboration can produce interesting and engaging content.

“What makes social media engaging is people. An influencer can be almost like a friend and the interaction between the audience and an influencer can be very close. Businesses would struggle to create such close relationship with their followers, and this is where influencers step in.”

Brutally icy atmosphere at Nallikari – Frozen People festival serves art, music and local food


Valoteos Nallikarissa

Frozen People, a festival of electronic music and northern art and style, takes over Oulu’s iconic Nallikari in early March. Braving the elements, the unique winter festival will be staged on sea ice. Taking place on 4th March, the festival features a headline act from Tarto, a 2024 European Capital of Culture. In the future, the call for the festival’s artistic programme will be extended internationally and feature even more international top names of electronic music.

The festival is inspired by the Burning Man Festival held in the Nevada Desert in the US.

“Like the Burning Man, Frozen People will be held at a surprising location braving the elements. The event brings together free-thinking artists and trendy revellers to celebrate art, creativity and self-expression,” says Heikki Myllylahti.

The event organisers have their eye on the European Capital of Culture year 2026

The Frozen People is now organised for the second time: organised at a challenging location, it takes long-term planning, experimenting and learning to make it work. The event will be further perfected in 2024 and 2025, leading up to March 2026, when the festival will be one of the key events in the Oulu 2026 programme. In 2026, Oulu’s Nallikari and the frozen seafront will be transformed into a gigantic stage for art and music.

“We have seen how Finns have embraced the various light festivals and how they have changed our view of culture and art in the middle of the dark winter. The role of Oulu Urban Culture and the Frozen People festival is to do the same and create a new Arctic art and culture identity for Oulu,” says Myllylahti.

This year’s festival programme is a versatile feast of electronic music. During the day, audiences can enjoy more light-hearted house rhythms, and at dusk the mood will turn more magical with some live performance, until the darkness descends and the more intense techno beat takes over. The festival will feature both new and familiar names from Oulu together with guest acts from Helsinki, Turku, and Estonia.

In addition to music, the festival site features several art works. The frozen Nallikari landscape will serve as a backdrop for inviting installations and performance art, soft spaces, encounters and interactive light art.

The event is produced by an extensive collaborative network. The food and drink will be provided the Oulu2026 Arctic Food Lab, the LUMO light festival produces Niko Tiainen’s light installation and the Estonian Merimelli act is generously sponsored by the Tartu2024 European Capital of Culture organisation. The event is also sponsored by Nallikari Holiday Village, Oulun Energia, and Hongisto Oy.

The admission-free festival is part of the Oulu2026 cultural programme and cultural climate change. The festival is organised by Oulu Urban Culture ry.


Program 2023 –> Frozen People 2022 – program | Oulu Urban Culture