Open Call for the ARToulu art area

The European Capital of Culture 2026 brings us Oulu’s new ARToulu art area, where art will pop up and surprise you in unexpected places. Dozens of installed artworks will change the face of the Oulujoki estuary’s seven city neighborhoods, turning them into interesting and distinctive art areas. Some of the artwork will permanently remain part of the cultural landscape and the art area will continue to evolve even after the European Capital Cultural year.

The artwork for the ARToulu art area will be chosen through an open call for professional visual artists. This call is open to all professional artists living and working in Finland, as well as to artists in residency, particularly visiting from European countries. The deadline for the open call is August 12th, 2024.

The art area hopes to reflect the multiplicity of the visual arts. The selection process will focus on the originality of the artwork and on the creativity of how the artwork is integrated into its environment, including elements of surprise. We welcome applications from all fields of visual art, regardless of materials or techniques. For example, applications can also be made for practices in performance art, community art or sound art.

The Oulu Artists Association (Oulun Taiteilijaseura -63 ry) project is part of the European Capital of Culture Year programme.


Additional info: ARToulu art area

ARToulu in social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61550558952821
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artoulu2026/

Oulu August Festivals to produce the culmination of the summer’s end in 2026 – Delta Life spectacle

The Oulu Culture Events Association, coordinating the Oulu August Festivals, has entered into an agreement with the Oulu Culture Foundation for a major event to take place during the European Capital of Culture year. The climax of the Delta Life project will occur at the end of the 2026 Oulu August Festivals on the last weekend of August.

The spectacle, taking place in the birthplace of the city around Pokkisenväylä, will weave together stories and future prospects of the region and European waterways into a multidisciplinary outdoor event. The event is free of charge, and the audience can participate in the amphitheater-like setting around Pokkisenväylä and throughout the city in a festival atmosphere.

Musician, singer-songwriter, author, and video artist Jukka Takalo serves as the scriptwriter and artistic director for the Delta Life project.

“The audience will experience a show happening on water and in the airspace, which can be participated in through multimedia globally. A significant motive for the entire Delta Life project is to make the life of the region visible and acknowledge the significance of our own stories. The style of the event is joy and carnival for world peace. It is better achieved with a smile than with gritted teeth,” says Jukka Takalo about the plans.

The content and meaning of the Delta Life spectacle will be built in the preceding years through events, encounters of artists, scientists, communities, and various audiences. Delta Life events will take place not only in Oulu but also along the waterways of the region inland and across the seas worldwide.

“A significant investment also brings the responsibility for the creator to ensure that the journey and experience are truly meaningful for the soul, the heart, and the region,” Takalo continues.

Oulu August Festivals with its partners produce the extensive Delta Life concept. Anu Lähteenmäki is the project manager responsible for the project at the Oulu Culture Events Association.

For the Oulu Culture Events Association, the Delta Life spectacle represents a significant opportunity for development. Implementing this large project strengthens the skills of the association’s members and other event and cultural operators in the region, and it expands networks to an international level.

“Our goal is that after this project, both Oulu August Festivals and other third sector cultural operators in the region will be more competent and stronger. Our role as an association is to act as a facilitator and supporter, especially for smaller professional or aspiring operators. If successful, cultural activities in the region will be permanently more high-quality, diverse, and international after 2026. To achieve this, we naturally need collaboration at the local, national, and European levels,” describes the association’s executive director, Pia Alatorvinen, about the future.

As a collaborative partner in the project for Oulu August Festivals, the design and production company Sun Effects takes on a role specializing in the planning, production, and spectacular execution of audiovisual content.

“It is an honor to be involved in designing and executing the culmination of the European Capital of Culture year together with Oulu August Festivals and other stakeholders. Jukka Takalo’s event concept is rich and multidimensional, fostering close collaboration around the local actors and region-specific narrative. This enables the realization of a unique, internationally acclaimed event. I believe that through the upcoming collaboration also with the regional creative industry, we will achieve something greater than a spectacle,” says Matti Jykylä, the Artistic Director of Sun Effects.

Oulu was selected as the European Capital of Culture on June 2, 2021, and just the following week, the first Delta Life event took place on the Kiiminkijoki River, the Journey to Magical Martinniemi. Since then, there have been events large and small from the deltas to the sources on the Ii, Kiiminki, and Oulu rivers. Delta Life also visited the European Capital of Culture, Kaunas, in May 2022. In addition to the events of Oulu August Festivals this year, Delta Life is spotlighting young artists and exploring elements of literary arts in the Iijoki River and other areas.

For additional information please contact Pia Alatorvinen, executive director, tel. +358 44 723 2676, pia@oulunjuhlaviikot.fi

Open call for young artists for the Delta Life Project

Oulu August Festivals are looking for promising emerging artists from the Oulu2026 region for the documentary series “Artists Arise in the Delta” for the years 2024–2026. The series follows the artists’ journey towards Oulu 2026 European Capital of Culture year. The open call lasts until the end of February 2024, and the selections will be made during March. Five artists/groups will be chosen based on the applications.

Materials from the project, including footage and interviews, will be used for social media content released throughout the journey. The overall experience will be condensed into a documentary series to be published in 2026. The project will culminate in the artists’ performances or exhibitions during Oulu August Festivals in 2026. In addition to the performance/exhibition spot, selected participants will receive compensation, media training and event guidance provided by Oulu August Festivals.

The application can be submitted through this form. 

Selection Criteria

  • Applicants can be individuals or groups representing any artistic discipline
  • Applicants must be under 30 years old
  • The applicants’ place of residence is within the Oulu2026 area.
  • Aim for professionalism in the field of arts
  • Readiness to commit to the process until 2026
  • Willingness to openly show their development and share thoughts (commitment to 1-2 documentation days per year)

Delta Life

Delta Life is a cultural project that culminates in August of 2026 in the delta of the Oulu River. As part of the Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture program, the Delta Life project explores and highlights the birth of the city and culture along waterways from fells to the sea, utilizing scientific research results. The digital media association: “Pohjoinen Kultuurivirta” is a key figure in documenting the project.

The artistic material accumulated over the years from water routes will finally present itself in August 2026 in the delta of the Oulu River during the month of Oulu August Festivals. It culminates in the Delta Life spectacle, which is the highlight of the late summer of Oulu, the European Capital of Culture of 2026. The artistic director for the project is musician, singer-songwriter, author, and video artist Jukka Takalo. The project is a collaborative effort, involving the festival network of the Oulu August Festivals and a broader group of cultural actors throughout the Oulu2026 region. More information about Delta Life can be found on the Oulu Cultural Events Association’s website.


More information: Executive Director Pia Alatorvinen, pia(at)oulunjuhlaviikot.fi, +358 44 723 2676

In which district of Oulu will the next mural be placed?

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 a mural on the wall of a 9 storey high block of flats

Eloise Gillow painting the first Oulu2026 mural in 2022. Photo: Mika Friman

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


Programme Peek: AaltoSiilo

The Program Peek is an article series where, as the name suggests, we take a sneak peek into the cultural programme of Oulu2026, the European Capital of Culture. The series provides small glimpses of what’s to come and highlights interesting aspects.

Kuvassa Valentino Tignanelli

As the year 2026 approaches the former wood chip silo located in Meri-Toppila is being revived through a project led by the Factum Foundation. The aim of the project is to restore the building into a world-class multipurpose space for various exhibitions and public events. With the AaltoSiilo project, the cathedral-like concrete structure will transform into a center for science and culture, combining Alvar Aalto’s iconic architecture with 3D technology, creating a unique entity in the area.

The project manager Valentino Tignanelli explains that the silo will actively host events annually even before the actual year as the Capital of Culture.

“The first event we organized in the silo was Farewell to the hoppers, where the Transistori collective used the elements within the building’s interior as instruments, turning the space into its own instrument. The latest event, Screaming Duende, combined flamenco master Israel Galván and Huutajat (Screaming Men) choir. We appreciate the interaction between artists and the building, and we hope that the silo will always be the main star of the events held there,” describes Tignanelli.

How does AaltoSiilo connect to the Oulu2026 theme of “Wild City”?

“We see the wildness as a symbol – it is something that has disappeared and needs to be created again. Wild city in this Oulu2026 program needs to be this new relation to what we consider wild and nature. AaltoSiilo reflects cultural climate change by being part of that.”

How does AaltoSiilo promote cultural climate change in the area?

“From an architectural perspective, it is important how the restoration of a concrete building like the silo saves an equivalent amount of emissions that would be generated by constructing a new series of apartment buildings. Oulu is full of concrete buildings, and through our work, we aim to set an example for the use of similar structures by preserving and refurbishing this culturally significant silo.”

What can we expect from AaltoSiilo in the upcoming years?

“We are planning a public space to the lower floor of the silo intended for 200 people. There will also be a vertically arranged audiovisual cabinet of curiosity from the lowest floor towards the building’s highest peak. Silo is an iconic landmark of its era, where we hope to welcome both exhibitions and live performers.”

How would you like the northern region to look like in 2026?

“I truly hope that the Capital of Culture year leaves something visibly tangible in the city – such as this silo, for example. I hope that the initiatives and organizations launched during the Capital of Culture year will continue their activities even after the important celebratory year. I believe that the cultural landscape of Oulu will undergo significant changes as a result of the year 2026.”

Follow the project: