Flow Festival – where trends evolve
Photos: Emmi Karjalainen
Flow Festival is an urban culture festival held in the heart of Helsinki in an old, picturesque industrial district called Suvilahti. The festival displays a different approach to culture and festivals in Finland by mixing food, music, movies, talks, design and technology and much more into a coherent, stylish combo. Flow Festival has become the festival that many head to, to catch the latest trends, artists and topics, all in one place.
Flow started in 2004 and it was held in an old railroad storehouse in the centre of Helsinki, right next to the Finnish Parliament. Few years after it moved to a street in the to-be hipster-like Sörnäinen and then in 2007 to its current place, Suvilahti. Flow Festival was founded by the critically acclaimed artists from Nuspirit Helsinki, mainly Tuomas Kallio to bring something new to the culture in Helsinki and in that mission it has accomplished well over the years. Although the capital city has evolved into a modern European city, Suvilahti has been untouched and somewhat empty. Flow Festival then has brought action into the area in a pop-up mindset. Now many other events and restaurants have taken over the area.
What used to be a small underground event held at a storehouse has now become the biggest and best known event in Finland. On 2015 the event took the event abroad and held its first festival in Ljubljana successfully. Moreover, the Helsinki festival was even more successful than before. The festival sold out and around 10 000 guests came from abroad alone. 70 000 guests over the 3 days of the festival visited Suvilahti.
The popularity is no surprise when looking at the line-up of the festival in the past years and present. This year’s festival hosted artists such as CHIC & Nile Rodgers, Major Lazer, Lianne La Havas, Diplo, Todd Terje, Belle & Sebastian, Pet Shop Boys and so much more. But what makes the festival interesting for people to travel all the way from the U.S. to Helsinki is not the internationally acclaimed artists – it’s the new, rising artists that the festival books.
Emma Kemppainen, the vocalist from the electro-pop band LCMDF, was working in the programme team for the Flow Festival this year. “A new wave of bands and artists are gaining popularity through the internet nowadays. It’s wonderful to see artists younger or the same age as me doing music. The popularity is not always domestic but many try to make it abroad as well,” she said in an interview for YLE. With this in mind, Kemppainen booked new artists from the Nordic countries and Finland in particular, which makes it interesting for international and Finnish guests. Flow Festival is a place where one can see bands that you wouldn’t see elsewhere, and moreover there one can see them first.
Music isn’t the only thing that makes Flow the festival of the year in Finland. At the festival the latest culinary trends from urban Helsinki meet the latest topics at talks and design meets the latest fashion trends and so much more. Flow is a hotspot for interactions and new ideas. And even more so as more and more people travel to Helsinki just for Flow.