The Tales of Tar route expands to the surroundings of the Oulujoki river

The Tales of Tar route that can be experienced digitally on mobile devices around Oulu is getting three additional stories. The route is expanding along the Oulujoki river with events that took place in Muhos, Utajärvi and Vaalaa.

In November 2023, Oulu2026 published the cultural history Tales of Tar route, which consists of ten fascinating short stories. The stories are based on authentic locations, events and persons from the golden era of the tar trade in Oulu. The new stories transport the viewer to the area around the Oulujoki river and the events of the tar era. The stories are available in Finnish, English and Swedish. The stories in Finnish have been adapted to Easy Finnish and have been granted the SELKO symbol of the Finnish Centre for Easy Language.

The route map and locations of the story points are available at www.oulu2026.eu/en/northern-stories/. If you wish, you can also read the stories there.

“It’s great to be able to expand the Tales of Tar route to the Oulujoki river valley. The history of tar connects the entire northern region, and the subject involves many different stories, perspectives and fates. Hopefully, in the future, we will get to tell the story of tar even more extensively and to expand the route all the way to the tar production sites,” says Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä from the Oulu2026 team.

The new additions to the Tales of Tar are The River Pilots of Oulujoki, Oulujoki Wharfs and From Lake Oulujärvi to Vaalankurkku. Previously published Oulu stories include Leveri, Snellman House, Seurahuone, Bergbom Warehouse, Hahtiperä, Linnansaari, Pikisaari, Merikoski, Frigate Toivo and Tervahovi.

The Tales of Tar route is designed to be permanent and is part of the Oulu2026 region’s journey to become the European Capital of Culture 2026.

The three additional stories have been realised by Rokua UNESCO Global Geopark/Humanpolis Oy as part of the project “Geoparks – attractive sustainable travel destinations”, which is funded by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund and the Finnish Government.

Photo: Finnish Agency of Heritage


More stories from the north coming soon

The Tales of Tar route is the first pilot in the Northern Stories project. The project is being implemented by Oulu Culture Foundation. The aim is to develop new ways of 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 the local identity of residents in their everyday environments and creates tourist attractions. The stories have been mapped with experts and local residents. The Tales of Tar route will be developed further on the basis of observations and feedback. The next story route, Sound of the North – tracing the origins of popular music, will be launched after Easter. The route traces the different eras of popular music, from Kuusrock to the 45 Special of today.

Further information and feedback

Northern Stories project, Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä, anne.makela@oulu2026.eu, tel. +358 (0)40 673 5155

Implementer of the project: Oulu Culture Foundation, main financier: Council of Oulu Region

Project implementation period: 1 March 2023–30 April 2024

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

Solstice Festival 2024: Art program – Open Call

Solstice Festival invites artists to partake in a celebration of light and life in the mesmerizing landscapes of Rukatunturi. Solstice is a gathering for people who enjoy music, art and nature, preferably combined. It takes place during midsummer (20.-22.6.2024) in northern Finland near the Arctic Circle. The festival site, Rukatunturi, is an arctic fell which rises half a kilometer above sea level, providing an unique set of picturesque views over pine trees and lakes.

During this time of year, the northern location of the festival means that the sun never sets, crafting an unparalleled atmosphere – a celebration of light and life. Within this atmosphere the festival seeks installations embodying this year’s theme: “Luminescence: The Interplay of Light,”

The 2024 art program aims to create a space where art and the ceaseless daylight can merge in a meaningful dialogue. It is an opportunity for artists to explore the use of light, various materials, shapes and the vast natural spaces to accentuate their work, creating art that resonates with the constant luminescence of the Arctic summer.


  • Open to all artists, collectives, and creative units.
  • Submissions accepted in Finnish and English.

Submission Requirements

  • Proposals due by March 30th, 2024, 11:59 pm EET.
  • Email to art@solsticefestival.fi with a single PDF file (max

10 MB).

Support and Compensation

  • A €1,000 stipend for selected artists.
  • Material, installation and other basic costs covered from the production budget.

The selection will be made by a jury comprising esteemed Finnish art figures, basing their decision on engagement, originality, interpretation of the theme, creative use of sustainable materials, and the installation’s feasibility within the environment of Rukatunturi.

For more details and information, visit Solstice Festival Art Program.

For further inquiries, reach out to art@solsticefestival.fi

European Capital of Culture Oulu2026

On the road towards the year 2026, Solstice Festival is growing into an internationally significant music and art festival. The festival’s program consists of domestic and international music acts, DJs, and visual artists.

Solstice establishes an internationally significant cultural event in the region, bringing diverse culture, visibility, and visitors to the area. Solstice creates a new kind of togetherness at the edge of Europe, in the midst of nature, surrounded by high-quality art and culture. In 2026, the festival’s event area and program will expand significantly in honor of the European Capital of Culture year.

European Capital of Culture 2022 Kaunas attracts 2 Million visitors: Key Figures

Kaunas opening

Results from “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” indicate a successful year and a solid recovery from the pandemic with record visitors.

Having attracted over 2 million visitors in 5 years, “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” can be named among the most successful Capital of Culture cities. In a press conference held on the 5th of November, Lithuania’s Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys, Virginija Vitkienė, CEO of “Kaunas 2022”, and the Head of Communications and Marketing Mindaugas Reinikis, presented results which showed that their programme which offered 3000 events, led to an increase in tourism and international media attention:

● Internationally featured in 66 countries
● Presented 1,370 cultural initiatives
● 18,000 artists and creators contributed to Kaunas2022
● Kaunas accommodated 258,000 tourists in 2022

Record Numbers of Visitors and Artists

Over the five years of the project’s implementation, almost 2 million culture lovers have visited Kaunas, with over half of them visiting in 2022. 18,000 artists and creators from all over the world, including Europe, Japan, the USA, South Africa, Israel, and elsewhere, contributed to creating the Capital of Culture in Kaunas and Kaunas District. However, it is worth noting that 70 percent were created and implemented by Lithuanian artists. In 2022 alone, Lithuanian and international artists organised 1,370 cultural initiatives open to the public in Kaunas and Kaunas District.

A total of 26 million euros has been earmarked for European Capital of Culture projects, or 13 euros per person over five years. More than 50 donors and partners contributed to the cultural initiatives, with a total value of 2.8 million euros in financial support and services.

Media visibility worldwide

The head of the initiative, Virginija Vitkienė, emphasised that the Kaunas 2022 project gained visibility not only in Lithuania, but also worldwide. Kaunas was featured in 66 countries in total, including in Europe, the US, India, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, South Africa, South Korea, and Singapore. Kaunas 2022 welcomed over 170 foreign journalists to its city.

Foreign media representatives were attracted not only by the ongoing events, but also by street art, the themes related to memory, Kaunas modernist architecture, and the appearances made by world-renowned artists. According to Mindaugas Reinikis, Head of Communications and Marketing.

International press attention and high-profile artistic events and exhibitions, such as Marina Abramović, William Kentridge and Yoko Ono led to an increase in tourism; In 2022, Kaunas accommodated stays from around 258,000 tourists, the majority of whom were from Germany, Italy and the neighbouring countries of Poland, Latvia and Estonia. Results showed more people were choosing Kaunas for more than a single-day trip, spending a whole weekend or a few days in the city.

Press release available here: “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” Programme Concludes: Key Figures and Future Plans Revealed – Kaunas 2022

What do you think about Oulu as a cultural city and how the region is preparing for its year as European Capital of Culture? Let us know your opinion by responding to our survey!

Oulu will be European Capital of Culture in 2026 along with 32 other municipalities from Northern Finland. The role of European Capital of Culture is important for the entire nation and Finnish culture, as the eyes of Europe will turn to the North. Oulu2026 will offer diverse, inspiring and unique contents already before the culmination of events in 2026.

Your opinion is important! Select the most suitable answers from the multiple-choice questions or write your answers in the space provided. It will take about 10 minutes to answer all the questions.

After completing the survey, you can submit your contact information to enter our prize drawing for the chance to win event gift certificates (value 50 €)! Winners will be notified in person.

The Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore is conducting this survey to gather information for a study assessing the impact of Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture activities. Your answers will be saved as you progress through the survey. Incomplete answers are also useful for us. Responses will be treated confidentially within Cupore and may not be connected to the identify of individual respondents. Personal data is not collected in connection with the survey.

Thank you for your responses!

The survey is open untill 16th of Oct.


The Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore is conducting this survey to gather information for a study assessing the impact of Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture activities. The answers are confidentially processed at Cupore, and any individual respondent cannot be identified. We do not collect personal data in the survey. More information about the data policy: https://www.cupore.fi/en/research/data-management-policy-in-cupore