Introducing Glowember

Glowember is coordinated by the Oulu Culture Foundation, also known as Oulu2026. Oulu is the European Capital of Culture in 2026. The extensive operating area spans 39 municipalities in northern Finland, which are all participating in the culture program. Across 12 municipalities in the area, November will be brightened by a wide range of events and artworks. The events are organized by various entities, including municipalities and associations. Some of the events are already well known, while others are being organized for the first time.

The Lumo Light Festival has demonstrated how the union of darkness and light inspires people and creates new experiences. This play of contrasts is now being extended over a longer period and supplemented with additional content and new themes. The whole spectacle takes place over a broader area, as part of the journey toward the Cultural Capital Year in 2026.

The first Glowember includes Ii, Kajaani, Kemi, Kempele, Liminka, Lumijoki, Muhos, Nivala, Oulu, Tornio, Tyrnävä, and Ylivieska. Events are free of charge, but some require registration in advance. In some municipalities, artist Pia Leppänen and lighting designer Indrek Virronen have conducted workshops to create a community art installation called ‘Water, My Beloved.’

Illuminating Everyday Life Together

“We want to expand the concept of culture and introduce people to the Oulu2026 area. The darkest time of the year may tempt people to stay at home, but we encourage participation and sharing one’s experiences of the joy that light brings. There are numerous opportunities across a wide region,” says Mirja Syrjälä, Oulu2026’s Community Engagement Coordinator.

Syrjälä adds that individuals can participate in Glowember in ways that suit them, such as illuminating their everyday surroundings, like their backyards or workplace windows, in a new way. Light can also be shared on social media, and those who publish light-themed images on their social channels using the hashtags #Glowember and #Oulu2026 will have a chance to win Oulu2026 merchandise, such as t-shirts.

Articles about light from various perspectives will be published on Oulu2026’s website. Contributors include producer Veikko Leinonen from Kajaani’s Kekri Festival, researcher Henrika Pihlajaniemi from the University of Oulu, creativity coach Virve Saaranen from Hyvän Mielen Talo, executive director Virve Leikola and curator Anna Björklund from the Finnish Light Art Society FLASH, as well as CEO Roope Siiroinen from VALOA design.

First to ignite the flame – Marrastulet

One part of the Glowember is Marrastulet (November Fires), an immersive and participatory series of light events in the municipalities of Rantalakeus. Tyrnävä takes a head start on Glowember; Marrastulet events will be available there starting from Monday, October 30th. Events will be held every week throughout November. Kemi, for example, is participating in Glowember with permanent artworks that can be visited at any time.

Check out all Glowember events at: oulu2026.eu/en/glowember


Oulu2026 Stage opens Qstock on Thursday – Free entry!

On the upcoming weekend, Qstock, celebrating its 20th anniversary, invites the audience to festival vibes starting from Thursday, when the Oulu2026 stage kicks off its program. The area on Linnansaari island is free of charge, and there will be concerts on Friday and Saturday as well.

Oulu2026 Stage introduces rising bands and artists from Oulu area. The acts on Thursday include pop/rap artist Sana, pop rock group Valkea, and spoken word artist Lajune. Friday acts are electronic artist Recens, metal group Slow Fall, prog pop band Kos Mos, and singer/songwriter Eereka. The final day is Saturday when the Oulu2026 Stage presents rapper Mactopias, the folk moods of Haamusoittajat, the melodic punk of Saa kiljua, the electronic folk of Junna, and the explosive energy of Kiestus. 

The Oulu2026 stage is located on Linnansaari island between Qstock’s bike parking area and cloakroom (see map of Qstock festival area). There will be food and beverage services available on the site.

“As many times before, Qstock has sold out in advance, but you can still enjoy the diverse gigs and relaxed atmosphere of the Oulu2026 stage without a festival wristband,” says Henri Turunen, executive producer of Oulu2026.

The Oulu2026 stage is part of Oulu’s journey to become the European Capital of Culture in 2026. The performers were selected through an open call in the spring.


Thursday 27.7.
6:30 PM Valkea
7:45 PM Lajune
8:30 PM Sana

Friday 28.7.
3:00 PM Eereka
5:05 PM Slowfall
7:15 PM Recens
9:40 PM KosMos

Saturday 29.7.
1:00 PM Kiestus
3:00 PM Haamusoittajat
5:05 PM Junna
7:15 PM Saa kiljua
9:40 PM Mactopias



kuvassa oulu2026-puiston yleisöä

Audience enjoying the program at the Oulu2026 stage in the summer of 2022. Picture: Verneri Savukoski

New Festival in Oulu promotes Cultural Diversity

A new “African Cultural Festival” will be organized in Oulu this summer with the theme ‘The Colors of Africa’. The event is organized by Africans in Oulu community.

“This is one of the most important events for Africans living in Oulu region and it also promotes the diversity of Oulu’s culture scene”, says Ojuolape Akinwunmi, founder and CEO of the community.

Creating atmosphere of Togetherness

The idea for the festival was born from passion for diversity, inclusion, and desire to foster a sense of belonging for people of different backgrounds.

Ojuolape and Vanessa Phekani have established Oulu Women in Diaspora networking group, which is dedicated to serving women’s needs, supporting wellbeing and empowering women to reach their greatest potential.

The idea of the festival, which brings people together, strives for a safer space and atmosphere of inclusiveness, has emerged. The festival creates equal conditions for diverse cultures and cultural expressions to flourish and foster intercultural dialogue. Vanessa states that togetherness is the most important but also being able to bridge the cultural gaps.

“Now is the time to bring Oulu and Rotuaari back to life! We are looking forward to this festival, which offers everyone summer fun and the colors, flavors and sounds of Africa.”

Ojuolape is from Nigeria, she has been living in Oulu for six years. She is a software engineer, fashion entrepreneur and the Creative Director of Heybeautycollections. She is passionate about bringing diverse cultures of the African continent closer to people: “I love to talk about where I am from because I know how culturally rich this place is.”

Vanessa, the Executive Director of Africans in the Oulu community, is from Malawi. She has been living in Oulu for five years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration and sociology, and a master’s degree in Education and Globalization from the University of Oulu.

Vanessa is the project Coordinator of ReGeneration 2030 youth movement, and also works as a Project officer for Oulu Reception Centre Association supporting integration of migrant and refugee women. She has a passion for raising awareness of cultural diversity.

Oulu is culturally diverse city

“We have still so much to do in terms of fostering cultural diversity and inclusion,” says Vanessa. She emphasizes the importance of mainstreaming ethnically, linguistically diverse cultural events in Oulu’s art and cultural life. There are a lot of events within various communities, but they are not visible within cultural services. We need to increase visibility of culturally diverse events in the municipal communication channels, to improve accessibility of communications and find ways to work with different communities. It is important to find gatekeepers in each of these communities and create networking forums to provide equal opportunities and enhance diversity and inclusion in the cultural field.

Vanessa states that the lack of representation has always been for her one of the biggest challenges since she moved to Oulu. “I think about my own children, how do they feel if there is nobody who looks like them in public places. If all your teachers are white it can be difficult to imagine that you would possibly be a teacher yourself in the future.”

Whose European Capital of Culture?

“Oulu is the European Capital of Culture 2026. Our event already shows that diverse culture is accepted and promoted in Oulu,” says Ojuolape.

She emphasizes that the African Cultural Festival and Africans in Oulu community are equally part of the European Capital of Culture. “Different communities have so much to offer to each other,” says Vanessa. She points out, that the best space for encounters and the celebration of the European Capital of Culture is where different cultural experiences interact in a mutually beneficial manner.

Ojuolape adds that objectives of European Capital of Culture regarding promotion of cultural diversity should be more visible. This could support inclusion, cultural rights, and ensure equal participation of migrants, especially non – European migrants, in Oulu2026 cultural programme.

“It is all about bridging the cultural gap and Cultural Climate Change! That’s why we want to encourage everyone to participate and create the Oulu2026 cultural program”, Vanessa says.

The African cultural festival will take place on the 15th – 16th July at Rotuaari. There are more than 20 vendors with food and craft stalls and entertaining musical performances in the area. On Saturday evening, there will also be a fashion show at Rotuaari where African styles will be presented. The festival culminates on Sunday with a concert by the Group Calabasse.

The whole family event is open to everyone and free.

More information is provided by
Ojuolape Akinwunmi

Vanessa Phekani

Equal Oulu2026 project fosters diversity and encourages everyone to participate in Oulu2026 implementation. Read more.

Long Table Picnic in the Oulu Arts’ Night

Kuva: M. Plepys, KMN Kiemų šventė 2023, Kaunas Artist House



Come and feel the atmosphere and culture of the city at the common dining table in Mannerheim park in the Oulu Arts’ Night on August 17. from 18:00 to 20:00.

Sit at the table with your own snacks, grab takeaway from nearby restaurants, or come check out the tastings offered by the operators at Summer Night table setting.

This year we are trying the event as a free event, open to everyone. We will implement a 24 m long table with white cloths in Mannerheim park during the Oulu Night of Arts on August 17. from 18:00 to 20:00. There will also be live music and other artistic activities around the Summer Night Setting.

So grab your friends, your work team, your top team or just come alone to have social dining togethers!

The Summer Night Setting is part of the Oulu2026 Arctic Food Lab cultural program.




Arctic Food Lab

Northern Finland’s short but intensive summer ripens our local ingredients. Arctic Food Lab is a programme that brings forth the ingredients that have grown under the Oulu2026 region’s Northern sky, and the uniqueness of traditional food born under arctic circumstances. We want to offer locals and international guests Arctic Food Lab experiences that cannot be experienced anywhere else.


For more info, please contact us: arcticfoodlab@oulu2026.eu

Arctic Foodlab logo

Screaming Duende at the AaltoSiilo June 3rd

The Factum Foundation and AaltoSiilo are organizing the Screaming Duende event in Meri-Toppila, Oulu on June 3rd. The event is a world premiere of pairing the radical flamenco master Israel Galván and Huutajat (Screaming Men) Choir. The event is a central part of the AaltoSiilo project, which uses art and industrial cultural heritage to develop this unique silo.



There will also be performances by vinyl DJs Malsson, Tenko, and Matti Aikio and an audiovisual concert by Veera Neva & Arttu Nieminen. The event is free and will be live streamed and projected outside the Silo itself. The event can also be followed on Twitch (from 4 pm) and Oulu2026’s Facebook page (from 7 pm).

At AaltoSiilo Israel Galván will meet the world-famous Huutajat Choir in the spirit of Federico García Lorca’s concept of duende. García Lorca describes duende as a tragedy-inspired ecstasy, a poetic, and uncontrollable emotional state. “El duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought.”

Oulu is the European Capital of Culture for 2026. Screaming Duende is part of the Oulu2026 culture program and the cultural climate change. The event follows last year’s event, where Transistori band played the silo building as a large-scale urban instrument.

Alvar Aallon katu 5, Oulu
June 3, 2023, from 4 pm to 9 pm

4:00 pm DJ Malsson
5:00 pm DJ Tenko
6:00 pm DJ Matti Aikio
7:00 pm Veera Neva & Arttu Nieminen
8:00 pm Israel Galván & Screaming Men’s Choir

A unique place gets a new form

The Factum Foundation and the award-winning architecture firm Skene Catling de la Peña bought the long-unused silo in 2020. Through events, the owners are exploring and developing AaltoSiilo into a versatile performance and exhibition space and research center.

Read more on the AaltoSiilo website.

Producer Valti Tignatelli, valti.tigna@factum-arte.com, +358 45 806 3171
Giulia Fornaciari, Factum Foundation / AaltoSiilo, giulia.fornaciari@factum-arte.com
Nicolas Beliard, Factum Foundation / AaltoSiilo, nicolas.beliard@factum-arte.com
Dan Barrett, Skene Catling de la Peña architects, dan@scdlp.net

More info

Oulu2026 Stage at Qstock – free entry!

The Qstock Festival in Oulu stretches partly over three days this year, for music on the Oulu2026 Stage starts already on Thursday, 27 July. The stage moves to a new location in Linnansaari island, and entry to the island will be free throughout the festival. 

As before, the Oulu2026 Stage introduces rising bands and artists from Oulu. The acts on Thursday include pop/rap artist Sana, pop rock group Valkea, and spoken word artist Lajune. Friday acts are electronic artist Recend, metal group Slow Fall, prog pop band Kos Mos, and singer/songwriter Eereka. The final day is Saturday when the Oulu2026 Stage presents rapper Mactopias, the folk moods of Haamusoittajat, the melodic punk of Saa kiljua, the electronic folk of Junna, and the explosive energy of Kiestus. 

“We want to highlight the versatility of the Oulu music scene by introducing artists from many different genres. There are acts who are just starting their careers as well as ones with a little more experience. All of them are united by the urge to develop and take strides toward bigger and bigger stages,” says Executive Producer Henri Turunen from the Oulu 2026 foundation.

The Oulu2026 Stage is part of Oulu’s journey to becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2026. Turunen says that music is an integral part of the cultural identity in Oulu, and that is why the Oulu2026 foundation wishes to offer local artists opportunities in Europe as well as locally. 

Qstock takes place in the area of Kuusisaari and Raatti islands in Oulu on the last weekend of July. The festival has been sold out for nine consecutive summers and established a status as one of the biggest festivals in Finland, gathering 40 000 people over two days.