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Festival History Re-visited
Helsinki Festival history The first Helsinki Festival took place in May 1968. In the early years, the festival's focus was on classical music although the programme was soon extended to include other art forms. The predecessor of the Festival was known as the Sibelius Weeks, founded in 1951.

In 1971, Helsinki Festival was moved from May to late summer. The first ever Night of the Arts took place in 1989. In the 1990s world music, children's events, an art gallery tour and a number of free events were introduced. The dance and theatre programme were also extended. The Huvila Festival Tent first pitched up in 1995. In its forty years, the Festival has presented a unique line up from Luciano Pavarotti to Massive Attack, from Picasso to Andy Warhol, from the New York City Philharmonic to La Fura dels Baus, from the Kaivopuisto concerts to the Mayor's Popular Selection, from the Piazza of Flavours to the Maa ilmassa exhibition, from Peter Brook to Pina Bausch... Events as diverse as the Flow music festival, the Poetry Moon, the UMO Jazz Fest, Viapori Jazz and the Art goes Kapakka complement the Festival offering.

The current Festival Director is Erik Söderblom. His predeccesors include Risto Nieminen (1997-2009), Viggo Grundstroem and Gunnar Arne Jensen (1968-69), Seppo Nummi (1969-1976), Seppo Kimanen (1976-1979), Veijo Varpio (1979-1994) and the creative board led by Esa-Pekka Salonen (1995-96).

See the website archives and catch the best from last year’s Festivals:

Festival 2005
Festival 2006
Festival 2007
Festival 2008

Festival 2009
Festival 2010

Photo: Riitta Sourander

Helsinki Festival presents a series of photographs from its archives.


So many decades, so many memories. Share the best with us!