May 31, 2023
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.
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
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
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)
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
Talous ja Nuoret TAT ry
Taito Pohjois-Pohjanmaa ry (Regional Crafts Association)
Kulttuuriradio Oulu ry
Romanikulttuurin museon tukiyhdistys ry
Pikisaaren Villatehtaat ry
PROTO – Pohjois-Suomen muotoilijat ry
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
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
May 4, 2023
You are invited to the Cultural Diversity Seminar being held at Cultural Centre Valve, on 16th May. This event is being offered in celebration of The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
In this seminar we will learn about and discuss opportunities for promotion of cultural diversity and cooperation, to improve Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Oulu’s cultural and creative sectors. The program will include expert presentations, breakout discussions, in addition to traditional networking opportunities. This event has been cooperatively organized by The City of Oulu General Cultural Services, the Immigrant Council of the City of Oulu, and Oulu2026.
Sign up by 14 May at Lyyti: I will register for the seminar.
Culture House Valve, Valvesali, Hallituskatu 7, Oulu
8:45 Morning coffee
9:00 Seminar opening: Johanna Tuukkanen, Head of Cultural Services & Director of Cultural Centre Valve
9:15 Keynote: Anthony Rice-Perttunen, Immigrant Council of the City of Oulu
9:45–11:15 Presentations on diversity
Ville-Mikko Sikiö, Head of Production, Cultural Centre Valve.
Selina Väliheikki, Curator, Museum and Science Centre Luuppi.
Pia Alatorvinen, Executive Director, Oulu Culture Events Association.
Anna Litewka-Anttolainen and Henrik Skarevik, Equal Oulu2026, Oulu Culture Foundation
11:15–12:00 lunch (self-paid)
12:00–13:45 Group (breakout) discussions
13:45–14:00 Summary and conclusion
We warmly welcome you to join us!
More information: Anna Litewka-Anttolainen, Equal Oulu2026 Project Manager, 040 538 8121, anna.litewka-anttolainen(at)oulu2026.eu.
Feb 23, 2023
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.”
Feb 22, 2023
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.
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
Previous Cultural Personalities
Feb 23, 2023
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.
Feb 14, 2023
Have you dreamed of a more lively university campus? Would you like to be able to enjoy the cultural activities also during the working day, for example during the lunch hour? Could the campuses of the University of Oulu offer an attractive cultural program in the evenings, which would encourage the members of our community to come to the campuses even after studying and working?
Creative Campus project is now looking for imaginative event ideas and enthusiastic cultural creators, with which we can together enliven our university in the European Capital of Culture year 2026.
Send your ideas by filling out the attached questionnaire: https://link.webropol.com/s/Oulu2026CampusAsAStage.
Event ideas are accepted until 31 March 2023. Uniresta’s coffee tickets will be drawn among the respondents.
The University of Oulu and OYY participate in the Oulu Capital of Culture Year program with their joint Creative Campus project, whose events consist not only of established events but also of new event concepts. One of the event concepts to be published in 2026 will be the Campus as a Stage event series. The aim of this event series is to open the community and interaction spaces of the University of Oulu’s campuses to the use of cultural actors for, among other things, concerts, performances and art exhibitions. The purpose of Campus as a Stage events is to strengthen community and well-being, and to bring culture closer to the everyday life of our university community.