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.”
The Oulu2026 organisation is offering an unmissable opportunity in autumn 2022 for partners to become part of the capital of culture programme. The autumn 2022 Open Call is specifically aimed at large-scale projects that take several years to prepare or carry out. The call for applications for individual, communal projects will be announced closer to 2026.
Join the upcoming webinar on 6th September at 2pm, where our team will introduce the diverse culture programme and the main themes, how to participate to the Open Call and what are key steps towards October 3rd, the official launch of the Open Call. We will also share general information about Oulu and our northern region. The webinar will be held in English and during the one hour session, you will learn e.g. what we mean by large-scale productions, what are our three main programme themes, how the funding and overall application process work.
The Open Call will be officially launched on 3rd October, and you have time to submit your application until 9th December. The official application criteria will be available on September 1st on our website.
The webinar will be also held in Finnish at 13:00 local Helsinki time. The recorded webinars will be released on our website and our Oulu2026 Youtube channel. Before joining the the webinar, you can take a look at Frequently Asked Questions.
Our Cultural Personality of the week is Petri Kuusela, an Oulu-based guitarist, producer, songwriter and educator. Petri says he has been given the tools to form a positive and restorative relationship with listening, playing and creating music from a young age.
“Jamming with my mates in my early teens gave me an inkling of how playing and engaging with other musicians can be a deeper form of communication than speech.”
However, a career in music was not a given for him. In fact, after finishing school, he impulsively applied to the Oulu Conservatory for the vocational study programme majoring in the guitar almost.
“I started my studies virtually as an autodidact, without any experience or knowledge about music as a professional field. My studies offered me quite the learning curve on how to interact and communicate in a creative industry.”
Petri says that the same social sensitivity is central to all interaction in all fields of art and culture. While studying at the Conservatory, playing and practicing became his fulltime occupation, and during those years he also built meaningful relationships and musical partnerships.
“I have always been interested in how recordings are made and how a single instrument or the quality of its sound affects an entire piece and the emotion it conveys.
After graduating from the Conservatory in 2014, Petri met Tanja Torvikoski, with whom he started writing his own music and they soon established a group called Lanai. The group’s debut album was released in November 2019. The process of the studio album served as an education for producing, arranging, composing and recording music.
“Making an album from start to finish mainly between the two of us also taught us a great deal about the fascinating myth that surrounds the process of making music.” In addition to Lanai, I have had the privilege to collaborate with many great artists and musicians, including:Stepa, Rob Moose, Tommi Kalenius, Peltokurki, Lauri Peisterä, Dimi Salo, Edu Kettunen, Eereka and many more.”
Today, Petri thrives on dividing his time between producing, playing the guitar and writing his own music. He feels that variety keeps him growing and the different aspects of his career feed his inspiration. A typical day in Petri’s life includes studio sessions, gigs, meetings, and song writing in various configurations.
What are you up to these days? How do you spend your spare time?
Thank you for asking, I’m doing great! I spent last week in Northern Finland on holiday at our cottage, finished by a solo gig to a full house at Kahvila Wanha Hamina in Ii. I’m next headed to the Norwegian wilderness for a week of fishing. The summer has been a busy period of juggling between gigs and recording sessions, which keeps the mind awake. There will be a few more gigs and recording sessions and I’ll be teaching ensemble playing at the Oulu Conservatory before the summer is over. I will dedicate most of the autumn for creative work.
I love the natural environment in Finland and I aim to make the most of my days off by moving in nature and fishing. To me, it’s the best way of putting my everyday concerns into some perspective. I also play the guitar just for the joy of it and meet with friends when I’m not working. I enjoy exploring different musical phenomena in more depth, and when I’m working, there isn’t enough time to do that.
What is it like to work in Northern Finland? How do you find the Oulu2026 region at this present time?
I see Oulu as a refreshing environment for creative artists as well as in terms of its cultural offering and demand. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still acutely felt but it is great to see that, at least for the past five years, Oulu has produced a number of unique internationally relevant artists who have the courage and ability to use their Finnishness and cultural heritage as a basis for their art. The city has (and will have even more) healthy competition within the live club scene and between festivals and, perhaps thanks to the Capital of Culture project, smaller events and the creative ideas of their organisers have received more encouragement and support.
I think Oulu is seeing a new wave in art, by which musicians and other artists are seeing the value of their Oulu identity in a new light historically and geographically and are willing to utilise it. As a region, Oulu is beyond compare, and I only hope that we succeed in maintaining and directing our resources even more effectively towards exporting Oulu-based art and international collaboration. On a national level, I wish to see the Oulu Region gain more significance as a region of artistic creation equal to all others in the eyes of the gatekeepers of, for example, state subsidies and grants.
What will the Oulu2026 region look and feel like in 2026? How do you think the Capital of Culture title will impact Northern Finland?
In 2026, artists and creators in Oulu will be enjoying a free, mutually inspiring and encouraging atmosphere in which both high-brow and popular culture can thrive side by side. This requires that the organising bodies and the local authorities are smart enough to invest in diversity, to take risks and to make space for grassroots cultural operators as well as large-scale cultural undertakings. Oulu is a hotbed of rising cultural entrepreneurship, which I believe will elevate the level of cultural production in the city and increase its diversity as we approach 2026.
I’m positive that with the Capital of Culture title, the value of Northern Finland as a rich and inspiring environment can be made even more visible internationally. The long-term effects of the Capital of Culture project may not be immediately obvious but we are heading in the right direction.
What does music mean to you personally?
For me, music is a way of self-expression and a journey in which the work and art of others serve as an infinite source of inspiration and a reminder of how we all are perfect just the way we are.
What could Oulu do to improve the position of creators and consumers of culture?
It could offer more funding, visibility and resources for projects, actors and event producers starting from the grassroots level up to supporting the internationalisation of local art. This could include providing a platform for workshops, master classes, and international collaborative projects in all areas of art to open up pathways for local artists for networking and sharing their expertise. The availability of well-equipped, affordable rehearsal and work spaces is still a bit scarce in Oulu, so directing more resources in this area would benefit both artists and producers.
Oulu is covered with snow for an average of five months a year. Organising outdoor events is a challenge in this climate: freezing temperatures and limited daylight make most people think twice before they venture outside to see a concert or a play.
Oulu2026 will offer a wide range of cultural programmes in snow and ice and organisers are confident that they’ll find ways to attract an audience even when temperatures drop to minus 25 ºC
Watch the video to find out more about Oulu2026’s winter plans.
“Arctic activities and an Arctic twist is a big thing in the cultural programme of Oulu2026,” says Programme Director Samu Forsblom, “it’s all about joy and fun in snow and ice.”
Oulu is in a unique position among European capitals of culture: it still has four seasons.
Winters have warmed up considerably in most of Europe over the last ten years which resulted in the disappearance of snow in many countries.
Climate change has affected Oulu, too: temperatures were unseasonably high in December 2019 and January 2020, with rain rather than snow falling. So Oulu2026 can’t take snow for granted: therefore each event that’s centred around snow will have a plan B.
“Oulu2026 will address issues surrounding climate change. One of our flagship programmes is Climate Clock: it’s about how art shows our changing environment and reminds us what actions are needed to protect the planet,” explains Samu.
Another major winter event is Frozen People. It will be held in on the frozen sea ice in Nallikari – home to Oulu’s kitesurfing community whose displays of speed and acrobatics provide a beautiful spectacle to visitors throughout the winter.
Kitesurfers will surely make an appearance at Frozen People but the event’s key attractions will be electronic music concerts and art installations on the ice.
There’s even a plan to put a stage on an ice carousel. And it’s not just any ice carousel: weather and ice permitting, the plan is to create the world’s biggest ice carousel that will gently spin musicians and audience around in a vast frozen space.
Oulu2026 aims to be the most sustainable European Capital of Culture yet and each event has its own sustainability guidelines.
“In Frozen People, visitors will be encouraged to push the pedals on stationary bikes to generate electricity to light installations. The event will also have its own hybrid power plant.”
Samu is convinced that in winter 2026, residents and visitors will have culture, art and a lot of fun in a beautiful frozen landscape.
“Finns are out cross-country skiing every day in winter. You can do anything in Oulu: it’s only a question of wearing the right clothes.”