The family event in Helsinki you don’t want to miss

I’ve been literally counting the days to next Sunday for at least a month. Lasten Festarit will be taking place and it’s the highlight of the summer for families living in Helsinki. Why? Well, picture Hesperian Puisto covered in stands and stages rich with free activities for children. Top with delicious food carts, nature all around, and there, you have it. We’ve visited the festival two years ago, when R. was two and we had a ball. I recall her jumping on the bouncing castle, painting on colouring boards, and playing all sort of musical instruments at a music school stand. This is E.’s first summer with us and I have been impatiently waiting to take him to this colourful event I have dear memories of.

Few days ago I had a nice surprise as I got contacted by the organisers. Let’s just say I made no secret of my excitement on social media and I kinda got noticed. And believe me, I was more than happy to help them spread the word. Lasten Festarit is a free-entry huge event dedicated to children and families, taking place in Helsinki city centre. Beside a rich programme – see below – the event partners set up stands with a lot of extra activities. I came to know of music and dance classes for kids this way, as well as activity parks, parents associations, and more. Last time I came back with my bag overflowing with flyers.

I’d now like to leave the best description of this happening to Doris Tuohimaa, the main coordinator. Doris was kind enough to reply to some of my questions and I am glad to share her answers with you all.

Can you kindly introduce yourself to my readers? 

My name is Doris Tuohimaa and I am the main coordinator of Lasten Festarit (http://www.lastenfestarit.fi) children’s festival. I am also a mum of a wonderful daughter who is 1 year and 10 months old. At Lasten Festarit I am responsible for organizing the whole event, staff and partners – a lot to do and learn! I work at PuskaPromotion, we create memorable and fun events for people to enjoy :).

For how many years has Lasten Festarit been organised now, and how was the idea of the festival born in the first place?

This is the  11th time that Lasten Festarit is organised and the idea started from creating a nice evening for families and friends of Keskuspuiston nuorkauppakamari Helsinki ry  and soon began to grow rapidly into the great free-of-charge open-to-all children’s festival it is today.

How many estimated visitors did you have last year?

Last year we had approximately 10 000 visitors and we are hoping to see as many people at Lasten Festarit this year too!

I want to underline events and activities are completely free-of-charge, which is fantastic. What motivates you to organise an open event dedicated to families and children?

I think it is very important that families from all kinds of backgrounds can attend and experience a high class event, about which they can also tell their friends and for example at school. It is a fact that some families have so little resources that they have no other option but to stay at home all summer. Lasten Festarit is a great ending for the summer leave and gives the children good memories and a possibility to try many different kinds of activities which maybe would not be possible otherwise.
It is also important to support the growth of the children into mobile adults by giving them a chance to realize that exercising is both fun and versatile – there are so many different ways of staying physically fit that everyone can find a suitable way to stay healthy 🙂 Attitudes form when we are little and we at Lasten Festarit want to be a part of making sure that everyone gets a good start at life.
We do have a couple of activities that have a fee (e.g horse carriage ride and face painting) but a vast majority of everything is free for everyone 🙂 All the performances at the main stage and amphitheater are free as well as all the activities by our partner companies.

I hear the environment is an important theme of the festival as well. How did you develop this thematic in the planning of the festival?

One of the goals of Lasten Festarit is also to raise awareness on environmental issues in a way that is both supportive and suitable for children. We want to encourage children to care of the environment by recycling, reusing and thinking about the ways they use materials. We think that the children are the future and we want to help raise them to love our planet and take care of it.
At Lasten Festarit we have a lot of activities that are environment-themed, for example you can make a music instrument from an empty yogurt cup, feed a trash monster, enjoy a RosKabaree recycling circus show and learn about recycling at Remeo waste management company’s event booth. Even our mascot Roskisnalle is all about the environment and will gladly teach you how to sort your trash and hug you while doing so 😉
The idea to make environment as one of our themes came quite naturally, environment is a very current topic everywhere and slowing the climate change is everybody’s duty these days. We at Lasten Festarit want to have a part at fighting the climate change and we think that one way to do so is by spreading the word to the children and help them grow into responsible adults. Lasten Festarit is just one day every year but the impact of our event lasts long and hopefully the lessons the children learn at our event will last for a life time.

Will the event have any connection to Finland’s 100th anniversary this year?

Lasten Festarit is part of the programme for the centenary of Finland’s independence in 2017. The year 2017 will mark Finland’s 100th anniversary as an independent state. It will be an important year for Finland full of events created through joint efforts. The other theme of this year’s Lasten Festarit (besides Environment) is Together which is also the theme of Finland’s 100th anniversary. We will sing together Happy Birthday to Finland, the national anthem Maamme-laulu and the children can also craft anniversary cards for Finland. We will publish photos of the cards in social media during the event.
Together is also a very natural theme to our event because Lasten Festarit is all about doing and experiencing things together!

As a curiosity, if you’d like to share, what have the greatest difficulty and the most exciting success been this year in the planning phase?

Greatest difficulty has maybe been taking this huge responsibility and transforming it into a wonderful event, there is so much to do and so much to figure out how to do. I am so glad that I have been able to find a great team to support the event so that together we can make Lasten Festarit the nicest day in summer! Most exciting success has been finding so many great partners to help us fund the event – we wouldn’t be here without our partner companies!
We still have so many visions and plans for the future to come, we want to keep on developing Lasten Festarit and finding new ways to excite, educate and entertain the children 🙂 But in the end the event is nothing without its visitors so please come to Lasten Festarit this Sunday at Hesperian puisto and have a great time!

***

To help you navigate the day, I unofficially translated the programme in English… and now I’m even more excited! Magic shows, giant bubbles, animals to pet…! Can Sunday come faster, please?

10.00 MAIN STAGE: Opening of the event and introduction of the mascottes.
10.10 MAIN STAGE: Roskabaree (circus show)
10.45 Amfi: Ruffle Army giant bubble show.
10.55 Amfi: Superpark exercise time.
11.10 Amfi: Elise ry (sport exibition).
11.30 MAIN STAGE: Ruisku and Kalle.
12.00-14.00 Car park area: Let’s meet policemen and firemen.
12.05 Animals’ parade.
12.30-15.00 Picnic area: cuddle the animals and ride the ponies.
12.30 MAIN STAGE: Roskabaree (circus show)
13.10 Amfi: Show by the dance academy Tanssila.
13.30 MAIN STAGE: Kikattava Kakkiainen.
14.50 MAIN STAGE: Perinneleikit ry presents “Perinneleikki-biisi”.
15.00 MAIN STAGE: Magic show by Paspartuu.
15.35 Amfi: Ruffle Army giant bubble show
15.45 MAIN STAGE: fairytale-exercise by Ylivilkku Virtanen.
15.55 MAIN STAGE: Thanks and goodbye from the mascottes.
***
10-16 RosKabaree-mascottes animate the festival.
10-16 Funny happenings in the partners’ stands.
10-16 Food stands open.

To get the spirits up, enjoy this collection of pictures of past edition, courtesy of Lasten Festarit (as well as the featured image of this post).

I also want to share that HopLop and Helsingin Leikkiluola are going to set up some bouncing castles, and giant trampolines have been promised as well. If you want to kick off the day with energy, Chiquita sponsors a Mini-Marathon event.

Here you can download a map of the event. I just noticed there’ll be also my beloved Jädelino among the food stands! Make sure to make a stop there for some authentic Italian gelato, and if you see a lady drowning her face into ice-cream nearby, stop to say hi.

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