Introducing Glowember

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


Oulu powers up Lumo Light Festival to delight visitors with spectacular visual art despite energy crisis


In 2022, Lumo Light Festival brought light to Oulu for the tenth year.

There were 20 fascinating light installations on show in the city centre and Hupisaaret Park from November 18 to November 20, drawing an estimated one hundred thousand visitors.

Most people would probably agree that beautiful light art has the power to boost morale in the darkest time of the year in northern Finland.

But some have been wondering if it was a good idea to stage a light festival during a major energy crisis.

It may come as a surprise to many people that Lumo’s electricity costs were remarkably low.

“Last year we used 950 kWh of electricity over the three days of the festival which was a bit lower than the monthly consumption of a detached house that uses electricity as a source of heating,” says Jarkko Halunen, Head of Programme for Lumo.

“When people visit Lumo, they switch off the lights, the TV and other electrical appliances at home, thus saving energy.

“Therefore it’s possible that the city’s overall energy consumption was lower during the festival than it would have been without it,” Halunen argues.

At the time of writing this article, the exact figure for Lumo 2022’s electricity consumption was not yet available. But Halunen expected it to be roughly the same as it was in 2021.

“Come and Enjoy”

“Lumo is the brightest, lightest, happiest festival in Oulu,” says Anna Lanas, producer for Lumo Light Festival.

She says the organisers’ goal is simple: they want people to come and enjoy the installations.

“The mission will be the same in 2026 when Lumo will be a big part of Oulu2026’s cultural programme,” adds Halunen.

The organisers are understandably reluctant to reveal detailed plans but there’s already plenty of buzz about Lumo 2026.

“We’re working on some great plans. Lumo will be big and wonderful in 2026,” adds Lanas with a smile.

A feel-good festival that’s accessible to all

“The end of November is the hardest time of the year for many people. It’s dark and usually there’s not much snow yet. People are getting tired of spending too much time indoors and not having very much to do outside,” says Halunen.

One of Lumo’s artists couldn’t agree more.

“The end of November is so dark and dismal that the light and the spectacle of Lumo really enhances people’s lives,” says John Collingswood, a British artist based in Oulu who’s built an installation for seven Lumo festivals over the years.

“I think the best thing about Lumo is the sheer volume of people; the crowds who make an effort to come and see the installations,” Collingswood says.

According to Jarkko Halunen, the secret of Lumo’s popularity is  its accessibility.

“Lumo is for everybody. It’s a free event: people can come and go as they wish and they can pick and choose to experience parts of the festival that they like. It’s accessible to people from different backgrounds, children and elderly people alike,” Halunen explains.

Anna Lanas points out that in 2022 Lumo was even more significant than in it was in earlier years.

“At a time when there’s crisis after crisis in the world, with covid19 and a war in Europe, Lumo is needed more than ever.

Light art is fascinating. It can give great joy and happiness to people at a time when happiness is really needed.”