Party on the cliffs on a warm summer evening doesn't sound too boring, does it?
Written by Lina Abrahamsson
The Ålanders are active people, and a lot of different activities and happenings take place during the year. Here follows a summery of a few of them. Due to Covid -19 many of these events have been cancelled for the summer of 2020, so it’s always best to check on the event’s website or at visitaland.com to get the latest information.
Åland's Self-autonomy Day
On the 9th of June the Åland flags is waving in the wind all over the island, it’s an official flag day. At the same date in 1922 Åland’s own government came together for the very first time, and marks since then as the official self autonomous day. This is celebrated in the evening on the square in Mariehamn with speeches, ceremonies, music performances and for a few years cake has been served for everyone who’s attending the festivities. Read more about the Åland self autonomy here .
Åland has an astonishing 16 municipalities and most of them have their very own Midsummer pole and festivities on Midsummer’s Eve. The traditions are very much alike the Swedish, with music, dancing around the pole, speeches, and participants in all ages. What’s unique with the Åland Midsummer poles are the colorful crowns which decorates the pole. The crowns are hand made by different associations in the municipalities, and each year new crowns are created to adorn the pole in red, blue and yellow, the colors of the Åland flag. The biggest Midsummer celebrations are found in Engelska Parken in Mariehamn, just above Pommern, and at Jan Karlsgården by the Kastelholm Castle.
Visor så in i Norden
If you happen to be at the island of Kumlinge in the beginning of July, you should make it to the small ballad festival Visor så in i Norden. The tunes from delicate voices, guitars and other instruments float out over the cliffs and a few of the visitors come by with their own boats. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, and usually ends with couple dancing by the evening. And there’s usually a chance to grab a ”Ledholmare” - a local delicacy from Kumlinge, which consists of a sandwich with herring, onion and homemade dressing. It’s a well known, and equally beloved, light meal for most Ålanders.
The pop music festival Rockoff is by far the biggest event on Åland throughout the year. For 11 days in the end of July, the square in Mariehamn is turned into a festival area with one main stage and one smaller stage. The artists mostly come from Sweden, but occasionally from further away as well. The festival brings people in all ages, but the majority are teenagers and young adults. On site it’s possible to book dinner and enjoy the shows from first row. The festival ends with a big fireworks show, which is conducted by the pyrotechnic world champion Johan Holländer.
Wiklöf Birthday Concert
Anders Wiklöf, Åland’s most well known councilor of commerce, has since a few years back held an annual concert free of charge to the public, on his birthday the 25th of July. ”The concerts is my way of giving back to the community” Wiklöf has stated in an interview. Many different artists have been performing during these concerts, from Johnny Logan to the Swedish pianist Robert Wells, and last year even Bill Clinton made a visit to Åland and Wiklöf’s concert to give a speech. The concert is held in Miramar-parken right next to the library in central Mariehamn, and anyone who steps by is welcome to take part and listen.
Sjödagarna, or The Sea Days, which are held in the Sea quarters just outside the city center of Mariehamn, are also due in the end of July. This is a well visited festival where many different activities take place, such as salsa classes, dance performances and bands playing. Also here will you be able to try out the Ledholmare, the delicacy from Kumlinge, among other delicious things. Usually, a few ships from around the Baltic Sea, make it to this festival and lay in the small harbor for a couple of days. You can sit around the tables or dance to the live music until late in the evening if that’s what your heart desires!
The Viking Fair
Two days in July, a grass field in the municipality of Saltvik is turned into a viking village with costumes, swords and all the props as taken straight from the viking age. You’ll be able to witness battles, try out foods cooked according to style of this era and listen to live performances of viking music. You’ll also be able to watch craftsmen as they process leather, silver, and other materials. If you aren’t able to get there by yourself, there is a bus transfer to and from the market each of the days.
Kulturnatten or the cultural night is held in Mariehamn in the end of August each year. It starts in the late afternoon and goes until late in the evening. You’ll be able to experience different forms of art, such as poetry at the library, special exhibitions at the Åland National Museum and street performances, but the probably most well visited event during the night is the ”Emmaus fashion show”. Emmaus second hand clothing store puts on a big bright colorful show and the audience is always truly engaged with cheering on the models going down the runway.
The harvest festival is very cozy and highly appreciated among its visitors, taking place in mid-September. Many farms, restaurants and craftsmen opens their doors around the island and visitors are able to attend different events such as workshops, lotteries and other competitions. You can also buy locally grown and produced products such as fresh vegetables, plants, jams and juices, animal products and hand craft. The festival is a weekend-long event with both day - and evening events. At skordefest.ax/karta there is a map of all the open farms during the weekend. It’s convenient to get around in a car since there might be quite long distances between the farms, but there are also buses which do specific routes to some of the farms during the festival.