Monday, 16 January 2017

Light festival 2017

A week ago, we took a short break in Helsinki. The original idea was to attend the annual Lux Helsinki light festival we missed last January. However, as the special anniversary of a friend of mine coincided with the event I persuaded her and her husband to join us for a proper little weekend holiday in the capital. We saw some great exhibitions well worth a blog post but let’s have a look at some of the highlight of the Lux Helsinki 2017 first.

This time, the event concentrated on a rather limited area around the Cathedral. The route started at the Market Square where the façades of the neoclassical buildings facing the square and the sea were lit in delightful bright colours. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the buildings looked something like this in the evenings all through the dark and cold season! You could almost imagine you were far away in the Mediterranean.

The white marble cube of a building also facing the Market Square by the sea is the head office of the forestry products company Stora Enso. An installation with animation and sound entitled Cube was projected onto its façade nonstop. It was designed by a Finnish three-man group calling themselves Shader (Messr Tavi, Kunnari & Yliräisänen).

Another star attraction, probably the most popular one this season, entitled  Flowers of Life was installed in the inner courtyard of the University of Helsinki Topelia buildings where spotlights were cast on delicate web fabrics with colourful symmetric geometric patterns. The magical designs by the Flowers of Life collective looked different depending on the direction you saw them from. I am not happy with my photos but you will get the idea: a path leading through a small park with 70s hippie-like patterns hanging all around. Enchanting!

After zigzagging around the Cathedral for a while the route winded up at it. This time all four sides of the church were illuminated each with its own motif and style. The installation entitled Domus 360° Four Homes was inspired by the idea of the home and that of the structures people build their existence on, their spiritual homes. The animation was designed by Tarja Ervasti and the sound by Willie Budsko. I am sure it was very well thought of and beautifully executed but, nevertheless, not as powerful as some installations seen on this site earlier. My posts on two of them here and here.

The Senate Square in front of the Cathedral is an ideal place for interactive installations requiring some space. There were two of those there this time. Visitors made Petri Tuhkanen’s People Power come to life by stepping on the scales controlling it. The greater the weight the brighter the lights of the installation.

The Light Pipes by Rölli Ridanpää and Tero Laine was built of copper pipes and light bulbs. Visitors could adjust the brightness of the lamps by turning the valves on the pipes. This installation was designed to demonstrate the diverse opportunities offered when living in a city. 

Diverse, indeed, to make a difference and to attend. Even a free urban art event in the middle of the darkest and coldest winter together with half a million fellow attendees in only five evenings in a city with a metropolitan population of no more than some 1.4M! Our desire for light certainly is limitless this time of the year. This must be not only the Lux Helsinki record but a world record of its kind! How about arranging a voluntary collection for a worthy charity on the side next time? If everyone donated, say, as little as 10 cents on the average that would already sum up to €50,000. What a difference that could make.

Below: Christmas lights in the Esplanade Park.


  1. Gosh it is so beautiful!!! It must really have been a wonderful experience and a great visit!

    1. It was great although not as grand as it felt in 2013 and 2014 when we first attended. I've been thinking that perhaps the fiercely cold weather those Januaries and the fact that then we were still living in the countryside with very little light other than our own lighting made those experiences more intense. A most welcome event in any case!