Festivals in Europe's Spotlight

Presenting the brightest gems of our northern region to an ever larger audience!

Into the Wilds and Back to the City

Think about this: In Oulu, you step on a bus that takes you to the middle of the wild northern periphery, pulsating through your visit full of laughter, unspoiled nature, good conversations and new friends. The Oulu 2026 region offers some of the most unique festival in Europe, and we want to showcase them. “In Europe’s Spotlight” presents the brightest gems of our northern region to an ever larger audience.

Would you climb to the top of the hill next summer to listen to electronic music or step into the dimness of the locomotive shed to enjoy domestic film classics? You can experience both and everything in between.

The Magic of the Northern Festivals

Our culture program “In Europe’s Spotlight” showcases the unique festivals of the Oulu2026 region, offering all Europeans a unique perspective on our northern festivals. These events range from veteran machinery days to musical experiences, and from poetry weeks to film festivals held in the dim light of an old locomotive hall.

These events encapsulate the magic of our northern region! The events reflect the cultural climate change throughout the Oulu2026 region, allowing all of Europe to enjoy the most distinctive and memorable festivals, venues, and atmospheres of Northern Finland.

christmas lights at Oulu, Rotuaarilla

In Europe’s Spotlight

On this page, you will find a brief introduction to the “In Europe’s Spotlight” events in 2024. The festivals are part of the Oulu2026 cultural program and cultural climate change.

Art Ii Biennial

Biennial Opening: June 13-16 (artworks on display until July 31)


In June the municipality of Ii becomes the cradle of international high-quality contemporary art. The theme of the ninth Art Ii Biennial is fire. This year’s biennial invites artists and audiences to explore the diverse and contradictory history of fire and to reflect on its significance in the present day.
The biennial’s opening will take place from June 13th to 16th, 2024, after which the artworks will be on display until the end of July. The biennial is also one of the events celebrating Ii’s 650th anniversary.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.



June 14-15


Varjo is an alternative live music and culture festival held in Kuusisaari, Oulu. The area art created by artists makes Varjo unique, and many consider it the most beautiful festival in Finland. In addition to musical experiences, Varjo offers space to breathe, be, and enjoy.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage. (Finnish)


June 20-22


Solstice Festival is a gathering for people who enjoy music, art and nature, preferably combined. It takes place during midsummer in northern Finland next to the Arctic Circle. The festival site, Rukatunturi, is an arctic fjeld which rises half a kilometer above sea level, giving people picturesque views over pine trees and lakes.
That time of the year combined with the northern location means the sun doesn’t set at all, creating a unique atmosphere – a celebration of light and life.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

Haapavesi Folk

June 27-29


Haapavesi Folk Music Festival has delighted and amazed its audience with diverse music for over 30 years. In addition to folk music, genres such as ethno, bluegrass, fado, Irish folk music, jazz, and many others are played in the summer nights of Haapavesi. The emotional and high-quality church concerts enchant their listeners in the middle of the beautiful Northern countryside. The Folk courses held before the festival are the core of this international event.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

Valentin Vaala Festival

June 28-30


Valentin Vaala Film Festival brings the nostalgia of Finnish cinema to the countryside, to the historic Vaala Roundhouse, which is transformed into a movie theater for the duration of the festival. Screenings are done with a 35 mm film projector, adding a cinematic glow and charm for us to enjoy.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage. (in Finnish)

Kajaani Poetry Week

July 3-7


Kajaani Poetry Week is a celebration of literary and performing arts, where you can enjoy poetry, music, and theater. Combining the new and the old, the traditional and the surprising, the festival evokes emotions and thoughts year after year. In addition to unexpected program numbers, many eagerly anticipate the annual poetry events at the statue of Eino Leino, arguably the most famous Finnish poet, who was born in Kajaani, and the unveiling of the Poetry Stone.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage. (in Finnish)

Wanha Woima Days

July 5-7


The theme for 2024 event is “Speed from the 50s!” In addition to various engines and machinery, there is plenty to see and Finnish traditions to enjoy. You can marvel at and admire the traditional work showcase events, and join around 20 000 guests who head for Oulainen each year for this celebration of Finnish traditional machinery and craft. The event is not specifically designed for anyone but is intended for everyone!

More information can be found on the event’s homepage. (in Finnish)

Official Summer Program of the Pessimists of Puolanka

July 5 – August 4


In Puolanka pessimism is an art form. The Official Summer Program of the Pessimists of Puolanka™ is a perfectly decent amusement that no one has missed. It may contain small amounts of Puolanka humor, at most one functioning overhead projector, and a pinch of sounds that could be interpreted as some kind of music. The program culminates in the audience’s favorite, conjugating irregular Swedish verbs.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

Raahe Jazz on the Beach

July 25-27


The program of the event is contemporary and emphasizes the experimental side of jazz. For many, the best part of Jazz on the Beach is the surprises and experiences offered by top-class performers, the summer evenings scented by the sea, and the perfect setting for refreshing old acquaintances and encountering unforgettable moments.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

Air Guitar World Championships

August 21-23


Contestants around the world put their best on stage shamelessly with their invisible instruments. This phenomenon promoting world peace with a smile has inspired both filmmakers and doctorate researchers. You can’t hold a gun while you play the air guitar.
The Air Guitar World Championships has been arranged in Oulu since 1996.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

Oulu Music Video Festival

August 22-25


The world’s oldest music video festival has been held since 1994. The Oulu Music Video Festival has spotlighted both domestic and international music videos and showcased fascinating pop culture phenomena through film and special screenings. The festival clubs and other side events have turned the festival into a popular celebration attracting thousands of guests. The festival culminates in the Pumpeli Gala, which awards and celebrates the best Finnish music videos and their creators.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

Kuusamo Nature Photo

September 13-15


Kuusamo Nature Photo Festival is held in Kuusamo amidst the most stunning northern autumn foliage. It is the most important event of the year for many nature photographers in Finland, drawing both professionals and passionate hobbyists to Kuusamo. The festival inspires, encourages, surprises, teaches, creates connections, and brings people close to the original nature with the most advanced photography techniques. One of the performers at the festival is the award-winning photojournalist Britta Jaschinski (United Kingdom).

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.

The Irish Festival of Oulu

September 25-29


The Irish Festival of Oulu is the world’s most northerly Irish cultural festival recognised nationally and internationally for its versatile and inclusive programme of world class traditional Irish music, dance and multi-disciplinary culture events. Since 2006, 104.179 participants have attended the festival.
Simply put, the festival performers, audience and staff come together for one long week to celebrate life through Irish music, dance, and culture.

More information can be found on the event’s homepage.