Upeart, a Finnish public art professional, is involved in our cultural program with the “Joy from Urban contemporary art” -project, which produces mural artworks around the Oulu area. The locations for the murals are chosen by the residents of Oulu in annual votes, open to all city residents. Voting is now open for the location of next Oulu2026-mural!
The residents of Oulu get to propose and come up with an idea for the location of the Oulu2026 mural, as well as tell memories and stories related to the residential area in question, which the artist can later use as a basis for the design of the work. This year the vote was won by Tuira and last year by Rajakylä.
Voting is open until 30th of November. Read more and vote here: Oulu2026 Mural 2024
In the European capital of culture year 2026, the mural will be realized in the area of the center of Oulu. Various activities, such as art tours and competitions, will be announced for the year 2026 around the created artworks. After completion, the artworks will be transferred to the collections of the Oulu Art Museum.
Eloise Gillow painting the first Oulu2026 mural in 2022. Photo: Mika Friman
Tartu, one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2024, is looking for three young people aged 18–30 from the Oulu2026 region to volunteer between January 25 and February 13, 2024.
The selected young people get to create a unique youth celebration on International Youth Day (February 10, 2024) together with other young people from Estonia and other parts of Europe. In addition, participants will get to experience the opening of Tartu’s Culture Capital Year (January 26, 2024).
International volunteering is organised through the European Solidarity Corps. Participants are offered a travel allowance, accommodation, food, insurance, and a small pocket money.
More information on the volunteer programme at Tartu2024 website.
Did you get interested in international volunteering? Apply as a volunteer by 20 November 2023. Decisions about the selected young people will be made by 30 November. Fill out the short application form via the attached link.
Additional information: Oulu2026 Community Coordinator Mirja Syrjälä, mirja.syrjala (a) oulu2026.eu, +358 40 502 9633
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
The Tales of Tar route that can be experienced digitally on mobile devices around Oulu will open in November. The cultural history route consists of 10 fascinating short stories written by author Katariina Vuori. The stories are based on authentic locations, events and persons from the golden era of the tar trade in Oulu.
A plaque with a QR code will be placed at 10 locations associated with tar. By scanning the QR code with a mobile phone or another mobile device, you get to read the story or listen to it. The stories are available in Finnish, Easy Finnish, English and Swedish. The route map and locations of the story points will be published on 17 November on the Oulu2026 website.
The stories are told in Finnish by Tuula Väänänen, a famous actress from Oulu, and in English by actor Sami Lalou from Oulu Theatre. In Swedish, the stories are read by Tea Stolt de Glanville, specialist in communications and the cultural sector. From Finnish, the stories adapted to Easy Finnish have been granted the SELKO symbol of the Finnish Centre for Easy Language.
From Leveri to Linnansaari and from glamour to disappointments
Katariina Vuori, the author of the stories, says she loves the waterways and the maritime feel of Oulu and Northern Ostrobothnia – the coast is unique, unassuming and slightly ragged, often hidden behind shrubbery along the waterline.
“It was fascinating to get to explore, through these tar-scented stories, the way in which waterways have influenced local history, the city’s growth and people’s lives, everyone from commoners to the high and mighty. The tar hegemony involved much more than mere glamour and oriental spices – there was pain, disappointment and even personal tragedies in the mix,” says the author about the project.
The Tales of Tar route starts from the boundary of Leveri and ends in Toppila harbour. However, each story is independent and can be experienced in any order. The route culminates at Toppilansaari, where the story points of Frigate Toivo and Tervahovi are located. At these points, you can see both by means of augmented reality on your mobile device.
The Tales of Tar include
- Snellman house
- Bergbom Warehouse
- Frigate Toivo
The Tales of Tar route is one of the side events of Lumo Light Festival, but will remain in the cityscape to be experienced even after the festival. The route is part of Oulu’s journey of becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2026.
More stories from the north coming next year
The Tales of Tar route is the first pilot in the Northern Stories project, implemented by Oulu Culture Foundation. The aim is to develop new ways of bringing stories to their authentic locations by creating several themed routes with user-friendly mobile technology in the Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture area.
Highlighting the region’s cultural heritage and offering experiences free of charge strengthens residents’ local identity in everyday environments and creates tourist attractions. Stories are mapped and collected with experts and local residents. The Tales of Tar route will be developed further on the basis of users’ observations and feedback. More routes with stories are planned for next year.
Further information and feedback
Northern Stories project, Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 (0)40 673 5155
Implementer of the project: Oulu Culture Foundation sr., main financier: Council of Oulu Region
Project implementation period: 1 March 2023–30 April 2024
The performance of the male choir Huutajat and flamenco dance master Israel Galván at AaltoSiilo’s Screaming Duende hybrid event could be experienced both on-site in Meri-Toppila, Oulu, and via a live stream. Photo: Juuso Haarala
Oulu2026 has launched the Hybrid Event Producer 2026 project in cooperation with Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OUAS). The ESF+-funded project will develop and pilot more interesting digital concepts for the event industry on how live events can be experienced in an immersive and experiential way also from home sofas and mobile phones.
For the audience live streams are probably the most familiar digital way of transmitting culture. Especially during the covid-19 pandemic streams gave artists and creators the opportunity to offer experiences online when events and gatherings were not allowed.
However, the need to develop the digitalisation of culture has not disappeared; digitalisation can be used for example to improve the accessibility of culture in sparsely populated areas. The goal of Oulu2026 is that the majority of the 2026 cultural programme can be experienced digitally and remotely.
“The Oulu2026 area consisting of 40 municipalities is geographically extensive stretching from one national border to another, and the programme for the European Capital of Culture year is organised throughout the year. Digitalisation can be used to make it possible to experience cultural content in an accessible way even when arriving at an event is not possible for example due to long distances or health reasons,” says Mirko Siikaluoma, project coordinator of Hybrid Event Producer 2026.
Hybrid productions improve equal access to culture and enable the transmission of culture for example to nursing homes and assisted living units. The project also pays attention to the interaction of remote participants in hybrid events and sustainable development, as the opportunity to experience culture remotely can reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by travel.
OUAS starts a study module of hybrid event production as a part of project
Utilising digitalisation in the transmission of culture requires new kinds of expertise from producers. The aim of the Hybrid Producer 2026 project is to update the competence of professionals working as producers to meet today’s requirements and to increase the number of producers in the Northern Ostrobothnia region. To achieve this goal, Oulu University of Applied Sciences will start a study module consisting of themes related to the production of hybrid events.
Hybrid producer studies are aimed especially at people working as producers, people trained in the profession of producer, and unemployed who are interested or have experience of working as a producer. Students participating in the studies can also participate in Oulu2026 with an internship and/or a work trial.
Further information: Project coordinator Mirko Siikaluoma, email@example.com, tel. 040 183 3188
Implemented by: Oulu Culture Foundation, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Project implementation period: 1.4.2023–30.9.2025
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.
6:30 PM Valkea
7:45 PM Lajune
8:30 PM Sana
3:00 PM Eereka
5:05 PM Slowfall
7:15 PM Recens
9:40 PM KosMos
1:00 PM Kiestus
3:00 PM Haamusoittajat
5:05 PM Junna
7:15 PM Saa kiljua
9:40 PM Mactopias
Audience enjoying the program at the Oulu2026 stage in the summer of 2022. Picture: Verneri Savukoski