The Helsinki Baltic Herring Fair is shaping into a celebration for all citizens. The week-long programme includes over 30 free public events. The venue is composed of a tent by the Havis Amanda statue, the rest of the Market Square, as well as the surrounding docks. This year’s festival wishes a special welcome to families and children. The Baltic Herring Fair is celebrated 4-10 October, from Sunday to Friday 7am-7pm and Saturday 7am-3pm.
Opening celebrations held on Sunday 4 October
As stated by tradition, the Baltic Herring Market opens on the first Sunday of October. Mayor Jussi Pajunen will officially open the Fair with a speech and the ring of a ship’s bell at 11 am. Directly thereafter, the stage opens for the children’s orchestra Bätmäns, and kids (and others young at heart) can get a herring tattoo to celebrate the day. The opening day finds the market square dotted with fishers’ huts, cafés and food bicycles.
The Rowing for Herring event starts on the shore outside the Finlandia Hall at 11am and arrives at the Vironallas dock in front of the Old Market Hall at 12.30pm. The race is joined by 10-11 traditional long rowboats and approximately 150 rowers, who will also collect water samples. The spectacle is a fundraiser for the protection of the Baltic Sea.
The traditional Herring Jury convenes among the Sunday brunch crowds by the Havis Amanda statue 12-2pm. The jury is composed of beer and food journalist Mariaana Nelimarkka, Helsinki’s cultural director Stuba Nikula, editor-in-chief of the food magazine Glorian Ruoka & Viini Sanna Maskulin, nature ambassador and author Pirkko Saisio, as well as top chef Pekka Terävä. The brunch table is set in collaboration with Lapuan Kankurit, Mat Catering, and ceramics artist Leena Kouhia. The opening ceremonies and brunch are hosted by Meri-Tuuli Lindström. The Herring Jury will announce the prize recipients by 3pm.
The opening day at the Havis Amanda statue continues in the company of Juha Lindberg from the praised fishmonger’s E. Eriksson. Juha will demonstrate how to correctly fillet perch, and how to make marinated treats from Baltic herring. The audience can sample fish sandwiches by Juha and Meri-Tuuli and note down recipe tips between 4-6pm.
Get to know the nature in Helsinki and Finland on Monday 5 October
Travel and outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a get-together at the Baltic Herring Market on Monday 12-6pm. Inspiring stories on nature, Finnish national parks, Nature Centre Haltia and Vallisaari – a Helsinki island rich in biodiversity that will be opened to the public next spring. Stand-up paddling teachers give a pep talk on the wonders of paddling. Travel blogger Marinella ”Nella” Ruusunen and photographer Arttu Muukkonen share their favourite exploration tips. Helsinki Helper travel guides will offer more travel tips during the Fair. The event tent also showcases the Harakka Nature Centre, the Baltic Sea Challenge initiative and Helsinki’s Environment Centre.
Culture, urban planning and an Instawalk tour on Tuesday 6 October
The Bicycle Library rolls into the Baltic Herring Market for all of Tuesday. The morning kicks off with a 10am fairytale reading at the Havis Amanda tent, along with a fish-themed game. In the afternoon, the open-for-all city planning workshop looks into the future of the Market Square 2-4pm, guided by Aalto University and different city offices.
After the workshop, the Instawalk sets off courtesy of Helsinki’s City Planning Department. The walking tour focuses on the unique setting of the Market Square, with flashes from history and a look into the future. The walk is guided by architect Marjaana Yläjääski and researcher Johanna Björkman. Participants can post photos on Instagram and share them with the hashtags #instawalkhelsinki and #stadinsilakkamarkkinat.
The culture day comes to a close with a play called Pikkukalastajien laivaretki (The Little Fishers at Sea) at 6-7pm by Lauttasaari Music Institute’s musicians and theatre club.
Sample school food from Helsinki and join the discussion on Wednesday 7 October
Visitors can sample Helsinki school food at the Havis Amanda statue on Wednesday 7 October 9am-3pm. The dish of the day is made of local ingredients and is found on school lunch menus: fish balls of bream with tartare sauce. In addition to taste bites, the tent offers a peek into the afternoon club activities of Helsinki schools, and shares information on sustainable and ecological development. The tent is hosted by the City of Helsinki’s school food experts, who will gladly answer questions on the topic. The event is organised by the City of Helsinki’s Education Department, together with the education and daycare services of Palmia.
Parents of school children and others interested can learn about food education and nutrition in a discussion evening promoting the use of fish in school lunches on Wednesday 7 October 6-8pm, organised by Helsinki Food Company and Finfood – Finnish Food Information. The evening looks into how school children could eat more fish in school and at home. The evening is hosted by chef and food writer Teresa Välimäki.
HelsinkiMenu celebrates 15th anniversary on Friday 9 October
Kicked off in 2000 by Finfood – Finnish Food Information, HelsinkiMenu now turns 15 years. Joining the anniversary celebrations, chefs from Helsinki restaurants Nokka and Ursula are preparing bite-size samples of, e.g. Baltic herring and rye tacos, served to the audience at 11am-2pm and 4-7pm. Finfood will also step up on stage at 2pm to mark the anniversary with a special surprise guest.
Market square dance at Havis Amanda on Friday 9 October
The deepening autumn night glows in the flicker of lanterns, with a stage dedicated to the evergreen musical gems of the Baltic Sea, wool sweaters damp from dance moves, and rosy red cheeks courtesy of the stand-up bar. The Baltic Herring Market Dance is thrown on Friday 9 October at 6-10pm. The dance orchestra Pyöriäiset guarantees to keep the dancers moving with both style and skill, featuring musicians Antto Melasniemi, Joel Melasniemi, Mikko Virta, Kalle Chydenius, Juha Kuoppala and Juho Viljanen, joined by poet-fisherman-DJ Harri Hertell. Free entry.
Children’s Day on Saturday 10 October
On the last day of the Baltic Herring Market, it is time to make space for the kids. The festive day at Havis Amanda features face painting, a balloon workshop, a herring disco, fishing and a herring café. Events run from 11am until 3pm.
In addition, the Havis Amanda tent hosts a fishing themed photo exhibition by Eetu Ahanen all week. Fishing specialists from the City of Helsinki’s Sports Department show how to prepare fish, give fishing tips and prepare tasty fish dishes on an outdoor pan together with a chef from Monday until Saturday on the Lyypekinlaituri pier. Helsinki’s libraries will also showcase fish and sea themed books during the Baltic Herring Market event week.