Helsingin sanomat OP-Pohjola Kemira S-ryhmä Accenture Eastway Elisa Taloussanomat
Forty Years in Pictures
We are presenting a selection of the finest Festival photographs from over the years for your enjoyment.


1960s
Launched in the tumultuous spring of 1968, Helsinki Festival was created to replace its predecessor the Sibelius Weeks and as a vehicle for promoting Helsinki and Finland internationally. The programme offered a rich selection of events from music to opera and ballet. With major Finnish cultural organisations extending invitations to visiting artists from abroad, the Festival took on an international flavour from the very beginning.
Visiting artists: The Borodin Quartet, Igor Ostrah, Cullberg-baletti, Bayerische Staatsoper, Batsheva Dance Company, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sergiu Celibidache
1970s
With the winds of change whistling through society in the 1970s, Helsinki Festival too came in for reform in the name of cultural democracy. Art went public: the programme now began to feature free events and art exhibitions were staged in Helsinki parks, suburbs, local schools and hospitals and even in offices. The inaugural Artist of the Year award was presented in 1971. A year later the Helsinki Summer Weeks were launched to breathe life into the city during the quiet summer months.
Visiting artists: Ravi Shankar, Emil Gilels, Svjatoslav Richter, New Yorkin filharmonikot, Taiwanin kiinalainen ooppera, Ballet du Senegal, Charles Mingus Group, Virtuosi di Roma, Ballet van Vlaanderen, Gidon Kremer, Chicagon sinfoniaorkesteri, Gorki-teatteri, Krystian Zimerman, Pablo Picasso (in exhibition)
1980s
During the 1980s, the Festival programme came to be structured around annual themes, including ”Hungary” and ”Europe in the 1920s and 1930s”. Festival audiences were treated to performances by classical music's brightest international stars. Free afternoon concerts in the Kaivopuisto Park pulled in a younger crowd. In 1989, the Night of the Arts was launched.
Visiting artists: Luciano Pavarotti, Wienin filharmonikot, Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare, Orchestre National de France, Victoria Mullova, Jelena Obraztsova, London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Bauhaus (in exhibition), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Carolyn Carlson Group, Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim
1990s
The popular summer and open-air concerts continued into the 1990s. In 1995, the Helsinki Festival concept was modernised and the Festival came to be centred around the Huvila Festival Tent at the Tokoinranta Park. The 1990s also saw the launch of the ever-popular Art goes Kapakka and Makujen piazza culinary festivals.
Visiting artists: Kiri te Kanawa, Jevgeni Nesterenko, Jessye Norman, Kazuo Ohno & Company, Kronos Quartet, Emerson Quartet, Eva Dahlgren, Radiohead, Massive Attack, Andy Warhol (in exhibition), Susanne Linke Dance Company, HIM, Apocalyptica, Jordi Savall, Cesaria Evora, Pierre Boulez, Frank Castort, Christopher Marthaler, Simon Rattle
2000 onwards
Today, Helsinki Festival continues to establish its position as a leading international multi-disciplinary arts festival in the Baltic. Staged three times from 2001 to 2003, the Lord Mayor's Popular Concerts drew huge crowds to the Senate Square. The children's programme returned after a 15-year break.
Visiting artists: The Mariinski Theatre Orchestra, Mariza, Anish Kapoor, the St Petersburg Philharmonic, Dmitri Hvorostovski, Christian Tetzlaff, Patti Smith, the Oslo Philharmonic, Los de Abajo, Patricia Kaas, Tero Saarinen, Pina Bausch, Kaija Saariaho, Gotan Project, Kristian Smeds, Juliette Gréco, Mamma Andersson, Luc Tuymans, Jane Birkin, András Schiff, Peter Sellars, the Berlin Philharmonic



Sources: Helsinki Festival staff and visitors from across the years, Festivaalien Helsinki by Satu Silvanto

Photo: Riitta Sourander