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.”

Oulu2026 Cultural Personality: Valentino Tignanelli

Picture: Vilma Töyräs

Our culture personality of the week is Valentino Tignanelli. He is a designer and architect. Valentino came to Oulu to study some years ago, graduated as an architect and now living between here and Europe. He got to know Oulu when he saw Peter Von Bagh´s movie Muisteja(2013) and its visual depiction of the city landscape and post industrial atmosphere heavily influenced his decision to pick Oulu over other parts of the world when he was choosing a place to do my Masters.

What projects are you working on now?

My main job in Oulu is being Project Manager, Designer and Cultural Producer for the Aalto Siilo: the process of renovation of the Alvar Aalto designed Meri-Toppila Silo into a climate change action audiovisual center.

The project is being carried on by the Factum Foundation, one of the most important archive conservation technologies organizations in the world, based in Madrid, with designs and plans by lead architect Charlotte Skene Catling from Skene Catling De La Peña studio,London. In September 2022, in collaboration with Oulu 2026 we organized our first event, called “Farewell to the hoppers”. More than a thousand people came to Meri-Toppila to enjoy a site-specific audiovisual production of several local artists that used the building as an urban-scaled music instrument.

Also, as a freelancer I am working on different design(graphic, industrial, audiovisual and architectural) related projects in Finland and Europe. For example, the last semester I designed a restaurant in Nice, France, worked in the production of a music video in Liguria, Italy for a Helsinki based creative agency and for a local Oulu business carried on a series of design studies for floating saunas. Design is a question of scale, not of format!

What does Culture Climate Change mean to you?

As in any new era of economic development, there is a correspondence between how the industrial activities are carried on and the way this is depicted in cultural productions. We now live in a world that knows about their resource limits and the impact of our economic system upon the earth as a whole, there is no way to negotiate that and culture is the natural vehicle to express this population’s concern. I think that Cultural Climate Change means to go beyond the pointing out of this problem and to embrace creative solutions in our daily life: creating an actual culture of sustainability, and not just responses in fear of armageddon-styled-catastrophic outcomes. Design practices can help a lot in inspiring society in the path to achievable sustainability, with real, coherent and organized actions displayed in different layers, scales, shapes, sizes, materials and sounds… and all that’s new and innovative.

What do you think about Oulu and North Finland?

Oulu is a frontier town. A fast growing urban sprawl, with an ambitious economic-political class and an important geographic location. There is a lot of empty space, both physically in the city plot, land and empty old buildings and in its different areas of business, management and culture. Historically, the city was always the gateway to the Northern parts of Scandinavia, and still is one of the most important cities just below the Arctic Circle. The future of the Arctic will realign the economic supply lines of several continents in the forthcoming years. North Finland is at the doorstep of this unstoppable movement of the human experience, and if in the following years Oulu can keep producing livable opportunities for International, Local and Regional talents to contribute to its growth the city could develop into an important global player.

How does Oulu look like to you in 2026?

I wish to see the city carry on a policy of re-use of old factories, warehouses and similar buildings. The number of empty, good quality, structures is astonishing. There is a tendency to tear down stuff and build brand new things. This must be stopped as it is one of the major contributions to climate change. I hope to see in the following years a change of attitude towards this, as construction is a mother business that affects all layers of the economic structure and will definitely change culture and the way we display and host activities around town. In addition, culture belongs to everybody and not only events in the center, places like Toppila, Tuira and other adjacent neighborhoods need to be an active part of the 2026 celebrations, with specific community projects and public space interventions.

If you think of Oulu and its region as a visitor, what would you like to experience while here?

Salmon Soup in Kauppahalli, coffee in Puistola, drinks at Sarkka, winter sunset in Pikisaari or summer sunrise in Ainolanpuisto.

What does culture mean to you?

Culture is the collective soul of society.

How do you spend your free-time?

I run and see friends and sometimes I run to see friends.

Friendly inquiry:

Your favorite season?

The one with first and last snow, whenever it comes and goes.

How about favorite food?

Pasta with any stuff from the sea.

Favorite place in Oulu?

Toppila river shore, Meri-Toppila´s post industrial alleys and any Kaurismäki-ish Iskelmä filled ambient dim lighted bars around town.

Would you go on vacation to the northern fells or the warmth of the south?

I like to see the sea, walk on little rocky islands, hear the Mediterranean blow and listen to the sound of cutlery clashing in busy canteens.

Chocolate or licorice?

Licorice filled Fazer chocolate balls

What is the last book you read?

Finished the A History of the world in 100 objects, by Neil Macgregor and The story of work by Jan Lucassen at the same time.

Aaltosiilo is part of Oulu2026-cultural progamme where Finnish architect Alvar Aalto meets 3D tecjnology and cultural heritage. The aim is to restore the industrial buildung into a world-class research and visitor centre – where culture and science meet. Aalto´s innovative cathedral-like concrete sturcture – The Toppila Pulp Mills´s wood chip silo – will become a multi-purpose exhibition anad performance space for the public. This building is located in the heart of a culturally deprived area in Oulu. AALTOSIILO will eork to highlight the importance of the industrial architecture of the north and the impact that industry has had on the environment. Read more about Oulu2026 -cultural programme

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