POLAR NIGHTS – Tips for surviving

by Julia Räsänen, degree student in Media

A snow covered field and a barn in fog

A sunny day in January 2014.

As many of you might know, winter in Finland can be quite rough, especially for someone who’s not used to snow and freezing weather. I don’t mind that much about the cold weather (as long as I’m not forced to spend my time outside, of course), but it’s the lack of daylight that really bothers me.

It’s not overstating if someone tells you that during October-February you won’t see the sun at all in Finland. Even though the sun might be shining for a few hours in the midday, it’s usually so cloudy or rainy that it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

The period of polar night can trigger winter depression in some people, including myself. These tips might come in handy, if you feel like the darkness is putting you down!

  1. Remember to eat healthy. I bet this comes as no surprise. Also taking some extra vitamins isn’t a bad idea. Paying attention to how much D-vitamin you’re getting is important, since you’re not getting that from the sunlight. Fish oil capsules are also recommended.
  2. Sleep well. Accept that you might need more sleep during the winter season than usually. Make yourself a nice cup of tea, get cosy and take a little nap. At least I’m a nicer person when I get enough sleep.
Candles burning on a metal plate on the table in the darknes

Taking it easy with some candles and glögi (which is a spiced beverage we Finns drink during the Christmas time. It’s also worth trying!)

  1. Stop talking about the weather, even though it’s the most common and obvious topic for small talk in Finland. Everyone knows it’s cold and shitty, so why saying it out loud and make your mood even lower.
  2. Don’t get too wasted in the pre-Christmas party. (Or do, but keep in mind that everything seems even more depressing when you’re hangover)
  3. Don’t isolate yourself. Human is a social animal, you know, and dwelling by yourself in that bad mood doesn’t necessarily help. Go to that pre-Christmas party, have a movie night with a friend and wrap yourself in blankets, sit under a bright lamp and imagine you’re lying on a beach.

And if none of this seem to work, don’t worry; winter lasts only 6 months in Finland, so it’ll be over soon!

[Disclaimer: these tips are collected from various internet sites, so I can’t promise if they work or not.]


You want to go snowboarding?

by Heikki Salo, degree student in Media

Skating park ramps with tags and paintings covered by snow in pink evening light.

Iso-Vilunen skating park is waiting for next spring – so head for other outdoor hobbies!

So you’re in Finland and  it is winter! You might want to try skiing or snowboarding? Skiing is fun – but of course snowboarding is much cooler. Those can be fun trips with good people – skiing few hours, drinking tea, grilling in those small grilling shelters (what ever they are called, some places have those).

But like in everything, at first you don’t know how to do it. If you don’t have money to book a teacher, I would recommend to ask some friend (who has long nerves) to teach you because it’s going to be hard. Here are some practical things to know.


Probably the closest ski center for many of you is in Hervanta. The problem is that there’s not so many tracks and it can feel boring after few hours. For others Mustavuori can be the closest one but there happens to be the same problem. And also Mustavuori’s hill is steeper so it’s not so friendly for a beginner.

For beginner’s quick day trip I would recommend Ellivuori, it’s just 40 minutes away from Tampere and most of the tracks are more gently sloping so it’s friendlier for beginners. And there are also few more tracks there so it doesn’t get so boring after few hours.

If you want more action and you are willing to sit longer in a car, you could go to Sappee or Himos. They both have longer tracks, suitable for many skill levels so you could basically go with a bigger group with beginners and more advanced skiers and snowboarders. It takes an hour to go to Sappee and 1,5 hours to Himos.

Ski centers in southern Finland open normally in the end of December or in January. In Lapland they are open for skiers earlier and they offer longer tracks and more beautiful views. But  because of a long distance you should take more time like a week for that trip.

Popular ski centers in Lapland:

  • Levi
  • Pyhä
  • Ruka
  • Salla
  • Saariselkä
  • Vuokatti
  • Ylläs


You could buy a snowboard or skis (and straps and boots) but you probably go there only once or twice so I would recommend you to rent them. Every ski center offers rental skis/snowboards and boots (and helmets!). You should still get appropriate clothing as you’re going to get wet and cold during the day. If you want to, you could also try to find goggles to protect your eyes. Not necessary at first day because hopefully you’re not going too fast but those are good shield for your eyes when you get some speed.

Ice plates form of triangle gathered together.

What about the prices: not so freezing cold!


Here’s Ellivuori’s price list – http://www.ellivuori.fi/ski/en/page.tmpl?sivu_id=85

And Himos’ price list http://www.himos.fi/en/prices

Ellivuori has an offer for much cheaper weekday evenings. That comes with a cost that there’s no sunlight. It’s fun but I would recommend that your first time would be in daylight.

If you haven’t done anything physical in past few years, 3 hours could be enough but if you don’t look every euro you spend, a full day ticket gives some freedom. When you don’t have that time limit, you have all the time to go eat or drink that tea. That’s good especially in Himos, as it is so huge place where some people might want to just wander around.

Next day

Don’t plan to do anything physical the next day. Your abs and bum is going to hurt after the first day. If not, you probably didn’t even try.

Don’t even try to do any fancy tricks at the first time, you’re just going to break yourself.


A decorated Christmas tree with genuine candles in a dark room.

Atmospheric light in dark evening. A genuine spruce spreads also so good smell!

by Niko Mansikka-Aho, degree student in Media and Arts

Christmassauna, spending time together, presents, dining table full of different, delicious meals. There are many ways to spend your Christmas, which abovesaid have become very typical Christmas manners over the years especially here in Finland. Preparations begin usually slowly and early to make Christmas Eve perfect.

Advent calendar is bought, Christmas cards are sent early enough and shopping for Christmas Eve is done repeatedly in December and in the end of November. Like said before there are many settled traditions in spending Christmas Eve, although there are some differences. Along already mentioned habits, Christmas church and visiting graves of relatives are also some common traditions.

Typical Christmas Eve meal consists of ham, salmon, rice porridge and some traditional Finnish casseroles like rutabaga and carrot casseroles. There are also some regional differences in Finnish Christmas Eve meals. In Lapland for example the meal includes reindeer as well. It’s normal that Finnish people eat the leftovers from Eve for even over a week.

Look at how Donald prepared for X-mas!!!

From smoking hot into frostburns – how to wear???

by Tatu Kankaanpää, degree student in Media

People tend to invest a lot in fashion. Oftentimes most of the clothes, especially the ones deemed sexy aren’t very practical in the Nordic climate.

A black leather mitten in hand.

So warm, so practical – and even beautiful!

Finland has a range of different weathers across the year. Summers tend to be either rainy and chilly or warm and sunny. Winters however are cold without an exception, at least for someone who isn’t used to -8°c being mild. Thankfully you don’t actually need to spend much time outside and you can use public transportation in cities, but there are times when you need to spend time outside, such as trips to more rural places, when you’re out drinking or just have to take part in outdoor activities in general, be it some kind of an event or just chopping firewood.

Bottom should be of material that keeps you dry and doesn’t give you a tingling sensation on your skin. Tech fibers such as polypropylene or merino wool are good. You should never use cotton as it dampens fairly easily, but dries slowly. Ensure that the clothes you use are skin tight, so sweating happens on the top of the clothes and not underneath.

The staying dry is both the comfortability as well and to prevent sweat from cooling down and freezing your body when the level of activity drops.

The middle layer is the layer whose purpose is to insulate heat and to propel moisture further away from the bottom layer. Great materials are polar fleece and wool. This layer shouldn’t be too tight, since the actual insulator is the air between the layers.

Topmost layer can either be a shell jacket, whose purpose is to deflect wind or an insulated jacket if air is nighing arctic temperatures. Down jackets are the most comfortable as they’re lightweight and have the best insulation in general.

As for limbs, get good gloves. If it’s very cold, you should use mittens instead of gloves, the reason being that having your fingers side by side keep them warm better than when they’re separated. For the same reason you should never wear gloves underneath the mittens. A common mistake for tourists visiting Lapland is that they’re wearing something that fits the middle European winter underneath their mittens and the heat of blood circulation escapes and doesn’t warm their hands properly. Wear enough socks and make sure your shoes aren’t too tight. It’s pointless to have a warm shoe if your foot doesn’t get any blood flow anyway.

Live music in Tampere

by Teppo Hyttinen, degree student in Media

A rock vocalist standing on a stage hands up, a microphone in his left hand, blue lights in the background

Wow! It’s Olli Hermann, vocalist of Reckless Love – Southpark Festival 2015. Photo: Carolin Büttner

Finnish music scene is extremely lively considering the small size of the country. Especially on the rock and metal side of music, Finnish live-music scene is doing well. Tampere is known as the “rock” city of Finland, home to dozens of well-known rock and metal bands.

Tampere has several well-known venues throughout the city, as well as popular festivals and events throughout the year. Some of the most popular venues are Pakkahuone and Klubi and they are host for hundreds of events every year, ranging from smaller bands to very popular artists. Other known venues are Yo-Talo, the legendary Vastavirta, Amadeus and the slightly newer Jack the Rooster. And let’s not forget Hervanta’s Varjobaari either. These venues offer wide range of different kinds of music for the listener to enjoy, at a reasonable price. There’s a gig somewhere pretty much every day in Tampere, and a big artist at least once a week.

Purple colour scheme of singing rock vocalist, a guitar player behind him.

The gig of Stala & So at Jack the Rooster. Photo: Carolin Büttner

Tampere also has a sports stadium and an ice stadium for festivals and worldwide known artists. Notable festivals and events in Tampere throughout the years has been Sauna Open Air Metal Festival (which was held for the last time in 2013, replaced by Southpark Festival), Tammerfest, Blockfest, Tampere Medieval Folkfest and many many more!

So if it’s live music you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with Tampere!


When I felt it

by Otto Kouvonen, degree student in Media black and white lakeshore scenery


Sound of lighter. Crackling of fire.

Warm feeling in the middle of night.

I can hear swans yelling,

like lonely trumpets on a lake.


Fog is rising from the water.

It surrounds us till we can’t see nothing,black and white lakeshore scenery

but ourselves and the campfire.



Steam from the stones.


Is the whole world burning?


At 4 am it happened.black and white lakeshore scenery

We saw the light coming back.

Red shine from the horizon.

Swans greeted the sun like an old friend

Thats when I felt it.


This is my home.

The Ice Hockey Madness of Finland

by Ville  Välimäki, degree student in Media

Icehockey players on a white ice - bleachers in darkness

On a video you would hear commentaries, cheers, whistles, commercials… the ice of Hakametsä arena.

Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Finland, and Finland has twice won the World Championship: in 1995 and 2011. (Clip of Finland going crazy after 2011 world championship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlltIY9v5Og) Hockey is a hobby for almost 200,000 Finns and there are about 68,000 registered players, 430 clubs, 3,000 teams and 40,000 games played per season!

In Finland not long after WWII, kids played street game called “ice ball”, which was a really simplified version of ice hockey as we know now. They’d scramble through neighborhoods buried in snow, batting and kicking a piece of cork the size of a tennis ball. But some of the more serious kids wanted to play hockey and eventually got the right gear and started to play more professionally. Back then, teams weren’t especially well organized: the worst athlete was usually stuck in front of a net, while the better ones attacked. The same passion for ice hockey is still around and when kids learn to walk they are taught to ice skate pretty soon after and ice hockey is practiced all the way from pre-school.

The Liiga
Liiga is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. Teams are situated in the major cities of Finland and they usually have a significant following in their own city. The team names are usually the traditional name of the club. All clubs are commonly known by the name of their team. Trophy awarded annually to the winner of the liiga playoffs is called The Kanada-malja “Canada Bowl”. The trophy is so named because it was donated by Canada’s Finnish community in 1951 and has been the main prize for the winning team each year.

Ice arena screen showing the situation in a match

The fatal last minutes in the final match last spring.

Tappara or Ilves?
Tampere has two major ice hockey teams: Tappara and Ilves. It’s an old debate whether you choose Tappara or Ilves as your own Tampere team. There is no real explanation why someone chooses one team over the other, but if you ask anyone from Tampere about it, most of the people have a favorite team and strong opinions about the other team.

I definitely recommend taking a group of mates and head to see a game in the legendary Hakametsä Ice Hockey hall, which is the oldest hall in Finland and feel the real ice hockey vibes yourself.

Learn more:

Sources for images:



It’s time to find delicates in forests!

by Iiro Jalava, degree student in Environmental Engineering

A bunch of funnel chantarelles growing in a forest

They just can’t be resisted!

In Finland we have a thing called everyman’s right. It gives you freedom to wander in wilderness regardless of the person or organization owning the lands for example. Only prohibited things are entering in the direct closeness of personal yards or entering specifically prohibited areas. So now we have this great freedom, what can we do with it?!

I take and advantage of this privilege every autumn and head with my family (inc. persons and dogs) into the woods. In forest I try to collect mushrooms called Suppilovahvero. It is a great cooking mushroom with delicate taste in it. It suits especially well with a game hunted around the same time. Other way to prepare it is mix it with some cream, white pepper, salt and cook it a bit. Yummy!

One must be careful though when collecting these mushrooms. The correct ones have a funnel pointing towards the ground. Very similar looking mushroom with pointy hat pointing up are very poisonous and should not be touched or collected. So if you are heading into the woods to try and find these treasures it is best to have an experienced guide with you because these are not easily found from every corner. Good luck in hunting for everyone!

A salty treat

by Tiia Rintakoski, degree student in Media

salmiakkisuklaa.edSalty liquorice – salmiakki – is liquorice with ammonium chloride added to give it its saltiness. It’s a common sweet in the Baltic countries and a loved treat in Finland. It’s not very known worldwide and most who know of it don’t care for it.

salmari.edA hundred different types of salty liquorice are available from fish and bananas to pipes to alcoholic drinks to ice cream and chocolate and the list goes on. There is a kind of salted liquorice for everyone, from salt-soaked to sugar-coated, chewy to crunchy, spicy to mild, soft to hard and so on. The uniqueness comes from when the saltiness and sweetness cross each other creating a moment where the two sensations are mixed.

The Finns enjoy making foreigners taste salty liquorice. The reactions go from firstly claimingsalmiakkikarkki.ed that it’s not even that bad to spitting out to candy in disgust and horror once they get to the centre and the saltiness kicks in. Someone once described the feeling as if somebody had sandpapered their tongue and then poured salt on top.

Salted liquorice is still worth a try and because of variety you’re bound to find at least one type that you’re able to stomach. And if not it’s good for pulling pranks on unsuspecting foreigners. But don’t judge it before you’ve tried it!

Right to roam

by Lauri Kohtala, degree student in Environmental Engineering

A rocky forest scenery: a lean-to in the background, a bit smoke lifting in the air.

Let’s enjoy life in forests!

Exploring the forests is fun. Just very near here in Tampere. You don’t have to travel to Lapland! Take your backpack, camera, binoculars, map and even sleeping bag. Go out to see wild animals, birds, scenery or pick some blueberries. The legistlation allows you to move in the forests freely (excl. motorized vechiles), pick up mushrooms and wild berries.

In spring time you can find a lot of horny birds singing in the forest. In summer you can pick up  blueberries and wild strawberries and in autumn lingonberries and mushrooms – for exemple chanterelles. Some of the forests have lean-to shelters and fireplaces, where you can spend the night. You can also take a tent and a portable cooker and spend your night anywhere in the forest when you remember that making an open fire is forbidden.

If you wish to find lean-to shelters or fire places for open fire you can visit recreational area websites. In most of the private owned forests there are no places for open fire or shelters for sleeping. Recreational area associations (Virkistysalueyhdistys) have usually maps of the areas where they have fire places and shelters on their websites. It’s nice to make one day trip with your friends also and just go and barbecue some sausages or corn.

Everyman’s rights (Right to Roam):
http://www.ymparisto.fi/en-US/Nature There is a link to .pdf in the right side of the site.

Recreational area association websites:
Pirkanmaan virkistysalueyhdistys – http://www.pirkanmaanvirkistysalueyhdistys.fi/index.asp (In Finnish)
Hämeen virkistysalueyhdistys – http://www.pirkanmaanvirkistysalueyhdistys.fi/index.asp (in Finnish)