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May Day Celebrations in Helsinki

Wondering why everyone in Helsinki is dressed up like a sea captain?

May Day in Helsinki

Planning a visit to the Nordic Countries at the start of May? One of the largest public holidays of the calendar year is the 1st of May, also known as a Labour day. In Finnish, it is called ‘Vappu’.

This traditional celebration for the working class has nowadays become a celebration for the students. In fact, everyone wears their graduation hat on the day, no matter how long ago you graduated. If you happen to be in Helsinki on 1st May, you might wonder why there are so many Captains on the streets as the white hats do look similar.

'Vappu' also marks the end of the long winter and start of the spring. You will find carnival style celebrations all around the city, as there will be balloon and streamers everywhere. Everyone is on the festival mood.

The biggest part of the Vappu celebrations in Helsinki takes place in the park by the sea at Kaivopuisto. Here you will find a real festive feeling with locals having picnics, drinking champagne, singing and even having speeches. Some might even dress up with a funny costume, and everyone is wearing a white graduation hat. No matter if it’s sunny or raining, people with friends and families will gather here every year.

One of the most well know traditions is to put a graduation hat for statue Havis Amanda located just in the heart of Helsinki next to the market square. This takes on place at 6 pm on the day before the eve of Vappu, 30 April, where the festivities officially start.

So, if you are visiting Helsinki on 1st of May, be aware, this is public holiday and probably the biggest annual public event in the city. Feel free to join for the celebrations; after all, it’s all about to get together to celebrate the springtime.

Be sure to try drinking this non-alcoholic Mead (Sima in Finnish) and donuts, which are just donuts. (Munkki in Finnish).. Very traditional food for Vappu.

Image credits: Visit Finland