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ASM Global plants flag in Finland

ASM Global has been appointed to run operations at Helsinki venue Kulttuuritalo (The House of Culture), marking the company’s first foray into Finland.

Founded nearly 70 years ago, the 1,400-capacity venue in the Alppila district hosts events ranging from concerts, festive events, gala nights and trade shows.

The 1950s venue has a rich cultural history, designed by world-famous architect and modernist visionary Alvar Aalto. To this day, Kulttuuritalo continues its strong and important relationship with the Alvar Aalto Foundation.

The companies say the partnership will aim to “relaunch and future-proof the venue for generations to come, cementing it as a ‘must-visit’ cultural destination and capturing an even wider audience”.

ASM Global will also lead the renovation of Kulttuuritalo’s basement space, Klubi, including the building of a new 300-capacity live music space.

“We are extremely excited to partner with ASM Global in re-creating it as the landmark cultural venue in Helsinki”

The ‘state-of-the-art’ new club space will play host to live music, club nights, DJs, and streaming events, further broadening and diversifying the events and audiences at the Helsinki venue, according to a press release.

“On behalf of all at ASM Global, I’d like to welcome Kultturitalo to the team,” says Chris Bray, executive vice president, Europe at ASM Global. “This is a wonderful venue with a rich cultural significance in Helsinki, so we’re incredibly excited to be on board to manage operations and relaunch Kultturitalo through significant investment in infrastructure, food and beverage and developing a new club venue in the basement of the venue. This is our first step into Finland, so it’s a huge opportunity for ASM Global, which is already established and seeing huge success in Europe and the Nordics, to expand further into what’s a growing market brimming with opportunity.”

Patrik Sarajuuri, CEO, Helsingin Kulttuurihub Oy adds: “Since acquiring the property in 2022, Helsingin Kulttuurihub Oy has been keen to develop the content and offering of the House of Culture and we are extremely excited to partner with ASM Global in re-creating it as the landmark cultural venue in Helsinki. This partnership with the leading global venue operator and creator of live experience enables us to further liven up the content and bring to life this unique building, bringing it closer to all people for live events. House of Culture has exceptional facilities for multiple different uses and experiences with a great location. We are very pleased with the new agreement, which enables significant investment in this iconic venue.”

ASM Global has a portfolio of 350 venues the world over which host 20,000 events, and welcome 165 million guests every year.


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Eric Prydz, Honey Dijon to play new Live Nation fest

Live Nation Finland has announced a new two-day electronic music festival in the capital city, called U Nation.

International stars Eric Prydz, Charlotte de Witte, CamelPhat, Honey Dijon and The Blessed Madonna are billed to perform alongside Finnish DJs Orkidea and Mr. A at the inaugural event.

U Nation will take place in Kansalaistori Square, a sunlit plaza in the midst of Helsinki’s Hietalahti district, on 30 June and 1 July.

The festival is the brainchild of Harri Andersson, who was hired as a promoter at Live Nation Finland last autumn and has had an extensive career and received much international recognition under the artist name Proteus.

“The idea of U Nation is to provide the ultimate open-air party powered by electronic dance music”

“The idea of U Nation is to provide the ultimate open-air party powered by electronic dance music,” says Andersson. “I want U Nation to be a celebration of individuality and love, where everyone can be all that they are. I have curated the list of performers carefully and am extremely happy with our lineup. The event lineup features highly esteemed top artists in electronic music, whom we have long wanted and waited to see in Finland, as well as Finnish electronic music stars.”

Sanna Forsström, head of the brand, marketing and events unit of the city of Helsinki, adds: “It is fantastic to have a new and unique event in the middle of the Helsinki summer. We also share Live Nation’s objectives of equality between people, environmental sustainability and the freedom to be just who you are. Helsinki wants to be a lively city attracting international travel and events, and this is an excellent example of what this aim means in practice.”

Prices for U Nation start from €69 for a Friday ticket, €79 for a Saturday ticket and €135 for a two-day ticket.


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Flow Festival plans revamp after record year

Finland’s Flow Festival is planning a shake up of its formula as it builds from a position of strength following its biggest edition yet in 2022.

Organisers of the Superstruct-backed festival, which welcomed 90,000 visitors to the post-industrial Suvilahti area in Helsinki over three days last summer, unveiled their first raft of acts for 2023 last month.

Set for 11-13 August, the line-up will include FKA Twigs, Caroline Polachek, Suede, Devo, Amyl & The Sniffers, Shygirl, Jockstrap and 070 Shake. Three-day tickets cost €225, with gold passes priced €345.

“The festival is shaping up really well,” Flow Festival creative director Tuomas Kallio tells IQ. “We are super-happy with some of the bookings for 2023. The effects of Covid, as well as geopolitical changes in Europe, affected international sales in 2022, so we are now looking forward to those numbers bouncing back in 2023 and welcoming even more visitors to Helsinki this August.

“Also, we are very excited to be able to use the festival area in the current, well-tested and iterated formula one more time. After this year, we will see some quite dramatic changes in our festival area, since it will begin to undergo drastic construction and developmental projects.

“Our 2022 was a successful return in numerous measures”

Kallio explains that a number of major production and technical changes are already in the works.

“Our biggest tent provider is new and the Main Stage structure will also change this year,” he says. “Otherwise our festival concept and vision remains the same it has been from the very beginning: to create a responsible high-quality and international festival, that is first and foremost a content-driven overall experience.”

The 2022 festival hosted more than 150 artists including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine, Burna Boy, Michael Kiwanuka, Jamie xx and Princess Nokia.

“Our 2022 was a successful return in numerous measures,” he says. “We made our sales record with a sold-out attendance of 90,000 and nearly 50,000 unique visitors during the three-day festival weekend. One of the absolute highlights was the new indoor art space we introduced at the festival area. Our festival is held at an old power plant area and has some amazing protected buildings from the beginning of the 20th century.”

Kallio opens up on his hopes and concerns regarding the wider festival market.

“There are festival and concert operators who are unfortunately ready to lose a lot of money to book certain acts”

“After Covid, a lot of artist tours have become dramatically shorter than before and thus, the competition even harder,” he says. “There are festival and concert operators who are unfortunately ready to lose a lot of money to book certain acts. This makes ever-raising artist fees even higher and, at times, unfeasible for a healthy festival market in Europe. A ‘multistage music lover’-based concept with a lot of various artists becomes financially harder compared to the years before Covid.”

In closing, Kallio stresses Flow’s commitment to retaining its status as a forerunner in festival sustainability, standing among the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals in its scale since 2009.

“The carbon footprint of Flow Festival Helsinki has been calculated and compensated for over a decade, but in 2021, this work was taken up a notch as a more extensive research project into the sustainability of the festival was launched in collaboration between Flow Festival ltd. and D-mat ltd,” he says.

“This research has, for the first time, captured the material footprint in addition to the carbon footprint of the festival and advanced the calculation of the carbon footprint to include indirect emissions related to the festival as widely as possible. This provides a more comprehensive view into the environmental impact of Flow Festival Helsinki than earlier, and presents the opportunity to reduce the environmental impacts holistically with new solutions targeting the key hotspots in terms of the festivalʼs sustainability.”

“A big part of sustainability for us is also to take into consideration the social side of it”

He continues: “A big part of sustainability for us is also to take into consideration the social side of it. This means promoting equality, safety, diversity, and accessibility. As an employer, we expect our entire staff, as well as our associates and distributors, to adhere to the same values. We also have developed an equality plan and a code of conduct that all our staff and subcontractors commit to following.

” We also participate in the European Keychange initiative. In 2022, approximately 55 % of the groups that performed at Flow had women and non-binary members. For some years, we have also worked with Startup Refugees, a non-profit voluntary network supporting refugees and immigrants with employment and entrepreneurship in Finland.

“All in all, we think creating a high-quality, comprehensive festival experience and working towards a more sustainable future can and should be mutually inclusive.”


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Major Scandi festivals hail bumper comebacks

Last week saw some of Scandinavia’s best-known festivals welcome back record numbers of music fans.

Norway’s Øya Festival (Øyafestivalen) reported a total attendance of 88,000 over four days (or 22,000 per day) at this year’s sold-out edition, smashing its previous record of 80,000 in 2019.

The Superstruct-backed festival returned to Oslo’s Tøyen Park last week (9 and 13 August) with headliners Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

“The festival was fantastic,” Jonas Prangerød, press manger for Øya, tells IQ. “Artists, staff, volunteers and, of course, the audience enjoyed Øya finally being back. People came very early to the festival area and there was a good crowd for every band and artist.

“Both new talent and the big, established favourites impressed. I think a lot of people have got a few new favourite acts now. The warm weather suited Øya’s comeback really well. The whole week was as good as we could hope for.”

Sweden’s Way Out West also broke its own attendance record, drawing 50,000 unique visitors over three days (11–13 August) to its 2022 edition.

The Luger-promoted festival once again took over Gothenburg’s Slottsskogen city park, offering performances from the likes of Tame Impala, Beabadoobee and Fontaines D.C.

“The whole week was as good as we could hope for”

“Way Out West 2022 could not have ended up better,” Filip Hiltmann, marketing and communications manager for Way out West, tells IQ.

“After two years of silence, it felt great to finally be back in Slottsskogen doing what we do best. The sun was out the whole weekend (a rare phenomenon in Gothenburg!) and we experienced first-class sets from the likes of Burna Boy, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, First Ait Kit, Fred again… and many more. We can’t wait to be back next year, mark down 10–12 August 2023 in your calendars.”

Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Finland’s Flow Festival celebrated an attendance record of 90,000 over two days (12–14 August) or 30,000 per day.

The Superstruct-backed festival took place in the Finnish capital of Helsinki this past weekend (12–14 August), with performances from more than 160 acts including Jamie xx, Princess Nokia, Bikini Kill, MØ and Fred Again.

Notably, Gorillaz’s performance at Flow was the band’s first-ever appearance in Finland.

Next year’s Flow dates have already been set for 11–13 August, 2023, and a limited number of Super Early Bird tickets went on sale yesterday (15 August).

Other festivals that took place over the weekend, elsewhere in Europe, include Superstruct’s Sziget (Hungary), Follow The Step’s Fest Festival (Poland) and Boomtown Fair (UK).


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Blockfest founder accused of money laundering

The founder and CEO of Finland’s Blockfest festival has gone on trial accused of money laundering.

Kalle Kallonen, who denies the charge, allegedly received cash earned from drug offences for €10,000 which he transported to Spain in May 2021.

The prosecutor is demanding a three-month suspended prison sentence for Kallonen, claiming – based on his assignment and the amount of money received – that he would likely have known or considered it came from criminal activity.

The allegation is part of a larger criminal case, first reported on by Seiska, that is being heard in the Helsinki District Court.

Kallonen has denied the charge and the description of the act in its entirety

A total of 10 people have been charged in relation to the case. According to the prosecutor, the main perpetrators were three men who formed an organised criminal group to commit drug offences from 2020 to June 2021.

Founded in 2008 in Tampere, Finland, Blockfest has grown to become one of the biggest hip-hop festivals in the Nordic countries. Taking place at the Tampere stadium, the two-day festival attracts some 75,000 festival-goers each year.

In 2019, Blockfest was acquired by Live Nation Finland following years of collaboration with the festival.

Rap artist William, aka Ville Virta, is accused of a similar crime to Kallonen. He is also alleged to have taken €10,000 to Spain, but “possibly” failed to hand over the money because the recipient had been apprehended by the police on suspicion of drug offences. He denies the charge.

The trial continues.


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Superstruct buys into Finnish metal festival Tuska

Superstruct Entertainment has signed an ‘investment and partnership agreement’ with Finnish Metal Events Oy, organiser of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival.

Launched in 1988, Tuska (Finnish for “pain”) takes place annually in Helsinki across three days and is one of the largest metal festivals in the Nordic countries.

In 2019, the festival set a new attendance record, welcoming 43,000 visitors over the course of the event.

The deal will see Providence Equity-backed Superstruct become a key shareholder of the Tuska festival. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This is the next step for Tuska,” says festival director Eeka Mäkynen. “Focusing on boutique festivals, Superstruct will provide us with more muscles for development and more rivets in our belt.

“Superstruct will provide us with more muscles for development and more rivets in our belt”

“All shareholders and key personnel will continue to be involved, and the organisation will continue to run the festival independently. The mosh pit will keep spinning, only faster – in other words, the festival will remain its own unique rough self, as it has been until now.”

Jouni Markkanen, who has been the head promoter of the Tuska Festival since 1999, adds: “We had been thinking about expanding our ownership base for a long time. Now the pieces all fell into place and the time was right.

“We believe that the festival business will intensify after the corona crisis. International connections have always been close to our hearts when booking bands. The arrival of Superstruct opens up more opportunities to create even better programmes and festivals for Tuska’s loyal customers, our tribe.”

Superstruct’s portfolio includes more than 30 European festivals including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar, Zwarte Cross and Finnish event, Flow Festival.

The live entertainment powerhouse recently signed a partnership agreement with Dutch promoter ID&T which produces Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake.


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Covid dogs sniff out virus in Helsinki

The professor behind a groundbreaking pilot scheme exploring whether dogs may be used to detect coronavirus in humans, currently underway in Finland, has said the testing method could become a cheap, quick way to detect the presence of Covid-19 in attendees to sporting and cultural events.

Trained scent-detection dogs have been deployed at Finland’s main international airport, Helsinki-Vantaa, as part of a state-financed trial led by the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

The four-month trial, which began on Wednesday (23 September), hopes to prove researchers’ theory that having dogs sniff for coronavirus – the trained canines can apparently smell the presence of Covid-19 on a wipe passed over an infected person’s skin – is even more reliable than a PCR test, currently the most commonly used test for the disease.

“This will be a good screening method at many other places”

According to the university, dogs can detect the presence coronavirus from a “significantly lower” amount of virus than PCR tests, allowing them to identify Covid-19 in humans earlier than laboratory tests. Research has also found that, unlike lab tests, a dog’s nose can identify infection in asymptomatic people.

Anna Hielm-Björk­man, a professor of equine and small-animal medicine at the university, tells the Press Association that, should the trial be a success, “it will be a good screening method at many other places”, including cultural events, sports venues and old people’s homes.

The Finnish pilot is the first in Europe and the second in the world, after a similar scheme recently introduced in Dubai.

According to Timo Aronkyto, the deputy mayor of Vantaa, where the airport is located, the programme is costing just 300,000. This, he tells PA, is significantly less than than other methods of mass testing new arrivals.


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Sell-out shows for LN Finland’s post-Covid concert series

Live Nation Finland has expanded the programme of its Suvilahti Summer concert series “due to high demand and sold-out shows”.

The series, which began on 11 June and runs until the end of the month at Helsinki’s Suvilahti energy field, was announced as the Finnish government lifted restrictions on events of up to 500 people.

Following on from sold-out shows from Finnish acts Maustetutöt, Anssi Kela and Knip, Live Nation has added additional dates from Olavi Uusivirta Duo and Jesse Marki, as well as introducing new content from the likes of the Ida Paul & Kalle Lindroth duo, rock singer Tuomari Nurmio and YouTubers Elisa Malik, Joona Hellman and Nelli Orelli.

The series of events is being carried out in accordance with current official guidelines. Tables and chairs are set for groups of two to six people, with individual parties separated from each other at a safe distance.

The full schedule of shows, along with ticketing information, can be found here.

Finland is one of a number of countries, including Denmark and the Czech Republic, to reintroduce shows of up to 500 people, with nations including Austria and Estonia allowing 500-capacity shows to return next month.


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700,000+ attend virtual May Day concert in Helsinki

At least 700,000 people – around 13% of the population of Finland – celebrated May Day (1 May) by watching a Fortnite-inspired virtual concert by Finnish rap duo JVG.

JVG, among the biggest hip-hop stars in Finland, were forced to cancel eight arena shows in April due to the impact of the coronavirus. The virtual concert – put together by the band’s promoter, Fullsteam Agency, virtual-reality studio Zoan and the city of Helsinki – was viewed by more than a million people simultaneously at its peak, while a further 225,000 people saw it online over the weekend, for a combined total audience of 1.4m.

“I have always thought that we are in the business of bringing people together, and it feels incredibly comforting to be able to do so in the middle of everything that is going on at the moment,” says Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter at Fullsteam, which has been forced to cancel or postpone over 500 shows this summer, including its festivals Provinssi and Sideways.

“It’s only love that gets you through, but it’s music that makes you move.”

“It feels incredibly comforting to be able to bring people together”

Utilising Zoan’s Burst Live and Virtual Helsinki platforms, the band performed against a green screen, while a virtual stage was set on Senate Square in Helsinki.

Inspired, says Zoan, by “the success of gigs in gaming platform Fortnite” (which also hosted a live performance, by Diplo, at the weekend), concertgoers were able to choose avatars and interact with the artist with different gestures and emojis. According to Google Analytics, the audience used the interaction features over 10m times during the one-hour show.

“The first of May is one of the most prominent public holidays in Finland. People have generations-long traditions of celebrating Vappu [Walpurgis Night] in large groups, outside, in restaurants and with picnics,” explains Jan Vapaavuori, the mayor of Helsinki.

“By combining Helsinki’s collaboration with Fullsteam, Zoan and our tradition for new technology experimentation we were able to create a virtual experience that brought together some of the traditional elements of Vappu to a new virtual reality.”


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Lippupiste partners with Helsinki Olympic Stadium

CTS Eventim-owned Lippupiste has signed a five-year ticketing and marketing agreement with Finland’s largest venue, the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.

The deal makes Lippupiste one of the main partners of the 36,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, which is due to re-open later this year following renovation works.

“We are in the process of creating a new type of event culture in Finland in which consumers come not only to attend a concert or watch a game but to enjoy a comprehensive experience,” says Lippupiste MD Ari Palhamo.

“The renovated Olympic Stadium will be a place for meetings throughout the year, and we are extremely glad about this cooperation. Together, we will have many opportunities to serve the public and offer new types of experiences.”

“We are in the process of creating a new type of event culture in Finland”

Ari Kuokkanen, MD of the Olympic Stadium adds that Lippupiste is “playing an important role as a service provider and partner for the new era” of the stadium.

Speaking to IQ for the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, Lippupiste sales director Mari Hatakka commented on the potential in Finland for offering full-service partnerships to venues, due to “diminishing funds in the public cultural sector”.

Lippupiste is the leading ticketing provider in Finland, followed by Ticketmaster Finland and local brand Tiketti, selling around 18,000 tickets per year.

Last year, the company signed a ten-year ticketing rights deal with the 13,500-seat Tampere Deck Arena, due to be completed in late 2021. Fellow Helsinki venues Hartwall Arena (15,500-cap.) and the future Garden Helsinki (16,000-cap.) are serviced by Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster Finland.


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