Flow Festival, 12th – 14th August 2011, Helsinki, Finland
by Guy Sangster Adams
I may be biased, having lived and studied in Finland, but I would heartily recommend a visit to Helsinki at any time, and this year’s Flow Festival gives an extra reason-or if one looks at the line-up a whole host of extra reasons-if extra reason is needed to visit the city this August.
This year will be the eighth edition of the music and arts festival which since 2007 has been held within the historic and striking environment of Suvilahti, a former power plant, whose nine buildings and two large gasometers were designed by Finland’s foremost proponent of Art Nouveau architecture, Selim A. Lindquist, and were completed just over a hundred years ago.
Musically, Flow champions a diverse line-up, mixing the up-and-coming with the globally famous, Finnish/pan-Nordic and international acts, from indie-rock, to soul and jazz, from folk to contemporary club sounds. Thus this year the programme includes Kanye West, Iron and Wine, and Janelle Monáe, all from the USA, Australian electronic duo, Empire of the Sun, and British electronic legends, The Human League, plus Jamie Woon, the British singer-songwriter whose critically acclaimed debut album, Mirrorwriting, was released in April this year. The strong Nordic line-up includes the experimental Nowegian duo, Röyksopp, Swedish singer-songwriter, Lykke Li, and a rich mix of Finnish acts, including Finnish/French indie-pop band, The Dø, veteran DJ and producer, Roberto Rodriguez, and newer names to watch out for such as French Films, Jo Stance, and Regina.
Alongside the music, and inspired not least by its venue, Flow is also about the identity of urban spaces and the transformations, new uses, and the new interpretations that they can go through, the visual and decorative arts, and the best in food and drink. As the festival organisers say, “Flow is both a mental and physical state of being, where feeling flows collectively through music into a larger entity”.
There will be eleven stages and event spaces at this year’s festival, the most to date. These are: Main Stage, Nokia Blue Tent, Black Tent, Voimaila Live/Voimala Club, Cirko, Back Yard, Nokia Lounge, Open Source Stage, Wine & Sapas, Film Garage, and Samppanjabaari.
The Main Stage is, of course, at the centre of the action, in the large courtyard area and features two LED screens. Acts on the main stage can be watched not only from in front of the stage, but also from the two storey bar opposite. The new Nokia Blue tent is a blue Kayam tent which can hold 5500 people, whilst the décor of the Black Tent, which hosts DJs and live performances by club acts, features 62 mirror balls. Voimala is, in effect, two venues in one, providing an early evening seated live concert area, and late night club dance floor. Cirko is devoted to experimental music and visual art, and Back Yard presents both Finnish and international DJs playing sets from a multitude of musical genres including Reggae, Afro, Latin, Disco and house, by top international and domestic DJs. The Nokia Lounge is a new addition this year and provides another club space.
Also new for this year’s festival are the Open Source Stage, the line-up for which was voted for by visitors to the Flow website, and the restaurant, Wine and Sapas, located within one of the site’s original buildings, Tiivistämö, hosted by the Helsinki restaurant, Juuri, with a menu featuring their speciality dish, Sapas, which is an authentically Finnish hors d’oeuvre, and other traditional dishes, all of which they have innovatively reinterpreted for modern tastes. The food and wine will also be complemented by live performances of Finnish new folk and jazz.
The Film Garage is hosted by The Future Shorts collective, and this year the space will not only be home to their programme of screenings but also to Flow’s first programme of talks and seminars. Whilst, Samppanjabaari, Flow’s champagne bar, is hosted by Moët et Chandon with a sparking line-up of DJs to encourage the bubbly to keep flowing!
All in all, whether one goes for the whole weekend, or just for a day, as part of a wider trip to Helsinki and Finland, or just as a long weekend festival trip, Flow sounds like the perfect destination this August.
Flow Festival runs from 12th to 14th August 2011 (16.30 – 02.30 on Friday 12th, 14.00 – 02.30 on Saturday 13th, and 14.00 – 00.30 on Sunday 14th) at Suvilahti, Kaasutehtaankatu 1, 00540 Helsinki, Finland.
In the UK, 3-day tickets costing £100 plus booking fee are available from See Tickets, (www.seetickets.com). Alternatively, 1-day, 2-day, and 3-day tickets, costing 70€, 95€, or 115€ respectively, plus service charges, are available from Finnish ticket outlet, Tiketti, either in person or online at www.tiketti.fi, or from the Stupido Shop, Iso Roobertinkatu 23, 00120 Helsinki, Finland.
Ticket purchasers can also support the protection of the Baltic Sea by paying a 2€ supplement, which will be donated in full to the WWF, to support their projects protecting the Baltic Sea. The Flow Festival Baltic Sea Project is supported by Ben & Jerry’s, and those buying the Flow Festival Baltic Sea tickets will also be entitled to receive special surprises at the Ben & Jerry’s kiosk during the festival weekend.
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