From playing air guitar to sauna-heating and wife-carrying competitions, here’s our list of unconventional events celebrating Finland that will take you to new places and experiences – and put a smile on your face in the World’s Happiest Country.
On the topic of knitting, Finland loves its wool socks. As the Nordic nation is also known for its famous runners, what better than running in woolen socks on snowy trails through the forests? The annual Woolsock Run Finnish Championship features competitions of different lengths ranging from 3k to 6k and 12k, with on-site essentials such as hot juice and soup, and tickets to the local swimming hall where participants can warm up in the sauna, the world-renowned Finnish steam bath.
When & where: February 18, 2023, Orivesi
Sledding Nordic Style
The Kicksled World Championships highlight the classic Finnish take on sledding, which features a wooden chair on the front and long skis on the bottom. Kicksled racing is a serious sport in Finland, and during the annual event – this year marks the 32nd anniversary – a range of other activities including skating and winter camping round out the active weekend.
When & where: March 10-11, 2023, Multia, Central Finland
Races with Reindeer
In Finnish Lapland there are as many people as reindeers – about 180,000 – and the furry four- legged animals are a traditional part of life and culture in the Arctic. At the Annual Reindeer Racing Championships spectators enjoy the thrill of seeing competitors flying on their skis behind the reindeer competing on a 1,000-metre long track. It takes serious skill and many racers have been practicing since they were children.
When & where: March, 25-26, 2023, Inari
Ski and Sauna
The highly original Swimming Suit Skiing event was born from the wild idea by two women of combining their favourite activities: cold therapy in the form of skiing wearing little more than a swimsuit and taking a hot sauna. The event’s aim is to put a smile on the faces of participants in winter, while giving them the unique experience of alternating hot and cold and also inspiring them to try something new which keeps the spirit alive.
When & where: March, 9, 2023, Jämsä
Heavy metal lovers and handicrafters unite as Finland hosts the annual Heavy Metal Knitting World Championships. In the Nordic nation, there are more than 50 heavy metal bands for every 100,000 people and thousands of enthusiastic knitters who are metal heads, which is why combining the two genres provides for a very entertaining and quirky show.
When & where: July 7, 2023, Joensuu
Some Like It Hot
In Finland, the birthplace of the sauna, heating up the steam bath is an art. At the Sauna Heating World Championships competing teams aim to heat up a tent sauna to a target temperature as quickly as possible. Teams are encouraged to dress up to entertain the audience and other competitors, with the best outfits awarded. Cooperation, good team spirit, and a positive mindset are all that is needed.
When & where: July 8, 2023, Jyväskylä
A good sporting match in the mud draws people from around the world to the Swamp Soccer World Championships every summer. The popular event is attended by nearly 200 teams, with more than 2,000 players from different countries. Onsite entertainment including Swamp Rock adds to the fun-loving competition that’s open to everyone from companies to groups of friends and sports clubs.
When & where: July 14-15, 2023, Hyrynsalmi, near Oulu
In the coastal town of Naantali in the Finnish Archipelago, the annual Sleepy Head Day Festival features a range of events around the theme of sleepy heads – those who sleep late on this day are thought to be lazy and non-productive for the rest of the year. The day starts with an early-morning wake-up call for the Official Sleepy Head of the Year, a celebrity, who is thrown into the Baltic Sea at 7 am. A range of events around the theme including a market with artisan products, a parade, and a cake competition.
When & where: July 27, 2023, Naantali
Going for Gold
Did you know that Finland has a gold rush history? In Finnish Lapland, at the Tankavaara Gold Village, you can get acquainted with the story, or participate in the European Gold Panning Championships nearby. The annual event offers up a lively experience for the whole family, whether spectating or competing. There’s a range of categories, including one for beginners, and the winner in each category is the panner who finds all the hidden gold nuggets first.
When & where: July 20-23, 2023, Tankavaara
Among the headline-grabbing competitions that take place in Finland, the World Wife Carrying Championship is at the top of the list. Organized in Sonkajärvi every year since its inception in 1992, the race is won by the first one over the finish line carrying their spouse. The fun-loving event attracts loads of onlookers each year and the prize is the wife’s weight in beer.
When & where: June 30-July 1, 2023, Sonkajärvi
Tree Huggers Unite
Every summer nature lovers gather together in Levi, Finnish Lapland, to see who can best express their passion for trees at the Tree Hugging World Championships. The cuddly competition is all about tapping into the benefits that forests have for mind and body in Europe’s most forested country – close to 75 percent of Finland’s land area is covered by forest.
When & where: August 19, 2023, Halipuu Forest, Kittilä, Finnish Lapland
Playing for Peace
The legendary Air Guitar World Championships make the international press every year for its curious, fun-loving approach that sees people from around the world strumming their imaginary instruments on stage. The goal of the annual event, which has been arranged in Oulu since 1996, is to promote world peace. According to the organizers, if everyone in the world were playing an air guitar, no one would be able to hold a gun.
When & where: August 23-25, 2023, Oulu
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