Metalheads all over the world see Wacken Open Air as the Mecca for metal, so they should try to at least once visit and experience that festival in their mortal life. But personally I think we should add another of these life goals as a metal fan to the list. If you think metal, there’s a good chance you think of Finland or a band that comes from the land of 1000 lakes. A recent calculation made by Jakub Marian even shows that Finland has the most amount of metal bands per capita in Europe (and even if you’d look worldwide). So what could be better than going to a metal and hard rock festival in Finland as it’s the birthplace of so many great bands? There are quite a few festivals throughout the year, but the best one to pick would be Tuska Open Air: the biggest metal and hard rock festival of Finland, held every year at the start of summer in the capital city Helsinki.
For this year’s edition they seem to have gone for bands as headliners that wouldn’t necessarily be put on the main stage as the closing band on other festivals. But this means that we should get a different show from them on Tuska than on most festivals due to the extra playtime of headlining. On Friday Tobias Sammet‘s Avantasia will close the day with an impressive list of guest singers in his trail: besides Tobias Sammet (Edguy) himself, there’s Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween, Unisonic), Bob Catley (Magnum), Jørn Lande (Masterplan) and Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids). On Saturday the last band of the day will be Swedish neighbors Ghost of which you can always expect a (un)holy celebration that blows you away. And the band that gets to end the festival completely on Sunday is native Children Of Bodom of who we know they’ll most likely do something special on stage (as last time they headlined on Tuska they basically fried some sausages in their pyro).
And that’s just the headliners! There are many great bands from all over the world like thrash legends Testament and Anthrax, death metal band Cattle Decapitation, black metal influenced bands like Kvelertak, Behemoth and Primordial and much much more big names to look forward to and smaller names to discover. A few we would suggest to check out besides the ones just mentioned are Myrkur and Nervosa. But for the whole list, check the image below.
Another thing that might make Tuska pretty damn interesting to visit, is the chance to get to see performances of Finnish household names that are absolutely huge in the scene over there but almost never come outside their country. Some gigs I’m looking forward to of those are Stam1na, Turmion Kätilöt and Diablo to name a few. And the fact that I’ll get to see Eurovision winners Lordi performing in their own country gets me pretty excited as well.
As I mentioned earlier, the festival takes place in Helsinki. The place where mayhem strikes down for 3 days is a spot called Suvilahti, which looks promising as the setting for a metal festival since it’s an old power plant turned into an event area. The address closest to the entrance is Parrukatu 2-4 which should be about a 3 km walk from the city center. Since it’s really close to the center and there is no public parking for cars at the festival, the best way to arrive to Tuska is by metro. Helsinki City Transport website. The closest metro stop is Sörnäinen, a several hundred meters from the festival area. Use public transportation to get to Suvilahti: metro to Sörnäinen-station or tram (6, 7A/7B, 8) to “Kurvi” / Vilhovuori. You can also take the bus (68 and many more) from the central railway station. Approach the festival gate from Sörnäisten Rantatie, next to the ABC -gas station.
The festival days start and end at:
Fri 1.7. 13:00 – 01:00
Sat 2.7. 13:00 – 01:00
Sun 3.7. 14:00 – 22:00
with the last performance ending an hour before the festival area closes down.
The bands are spread over 3 stages: Radio Rock Main Stage, named after one of the longtime partners of the festival, the Helsinki Stage housed in a big tent and the indoor Inferno Stage (also named after a longtime partner) in one of the buildings of the power plant where all hell will break loose regularly.
Besides that there’s the brand new stage and concept of Solmusali Stage where they provide artist and industry power player interviews, panel discussions and a Swallow The Sun acoustic set thrown in the mix for good measure. Solmusali has the capacity of approx. 100 persons and it’s open for all Tuska ticket holders. Tickets for the shows at the Solmusali can’t be reserved, it operates with the ”First Come, First Served”-principle, excluding the Swallow The Sun set, for which the tickets will be raffled for Saturday visitors.
For an in-depth look of the overall timetable and to make your own schedule, click here.
Besides the stages there are merchandise areas, a food garden, bars and even a convenience store. The crazy Finns of Tuska even made place for a sauna on the festival area! For a closer look at the map, click on the picture below.
For those that actually plan to sleep a bit during the weekend, there are 2 options they can choose from. Tuska is located in the city so they have no camping area. The closest camping area is RASTILA, by the metro stop of the same name. Affordable accommodation in Helsinki from THIS LINK or via TRIVAGO hotel search. Although the city has plenty of hotels you might want to book your hotel room well in advance as a plenty of Tuska-comers arrive from far away.
The Food & Drinks
There’s a food garden with a wide variety of food, plenty of bars and a place called “Black Dining”. Also at the convenience store you can find stuff like sandwiches, ice cream,… They use a deposit system to boost the recycling: 1 euro deposit is charged when purchasing a canned drink or a drink in a mug. Deposit is returned when returning an empty, unbroken can/mug to the bar or to the deposit point.
People with an eye for detail might have seen it already on the map: at every stage there’s a “no smoking” sign and you can find a smoking area. Due to the regulations in Finland you’re not allowed to smoke inside or in the close vicinity of the stage.
Bringing your own alcohol beverages to the festival area is a big no no. Bags will be checked when entering the festival. You can bring one transparent, unopened plastic bottle of non-alcoholic beverage, or a transparent and empty plastic bottle per customer. Max. size 1,5 litres. Security personnel is allowed to forbid any “suspicious” bottles and ask to leave those to the cloakroom. There are water taps for public at the venue. Drinking tap water in Finland is ok.
Professional photo equipment requires press accreditation. Press accreditation & photo passes will be granted for media personnel only, not private customers. Pocket cameras & cell phone cameras are allowed. All video cameras and other recording equipment are strictly prohibited.
Fold out chairs are permitted in the festival area, but not in front of the stages or other highly crowded areas. The security personnel may ask you to move your fold out chair from the crowd if they feel it may pose a danger or clogs up crowd movement.
Professional camera equipment, all recorders, cans, bottles, umbrellas and all things that can be considered dangerous are strictly prohibited, at the security personnel’s discretion.
A Tuskan smart phone app will be available later in the spring for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
TUSKA 2016 signing sessions will be announced closer to the festival.
You can leave your belongings in the cloakroom by the festival gate. NOTE!!! No huge backpacks or other large items, those can be left at the Helsinki railway station storage.
Physically disabled and visually impaired customers can bring an escort (1 person).
There is a first aid point at the festival area, which will serve during festival opening hours. The nearest pharmacy is located in Sörnäinen, Hämeentie 58, 00500 Helsinki. Yliopiston Apteekki, Mannerheimintie 96, is open 24 hours.
During the festival, ask for your lost items from the cloak room near the entrance. After the festival, all uncollected lost & found items will be delivered to the Pasila police station lost property.
Senior citizens of over 65 years of age are allowed to access the festival area free of charge.
Since the festival day ends pretty early, Tuska has a system of official after parties on several spots in the city center of Helsinki. They’ll take place at either the legendary Virgin Oil Co. venue or Helsinki’s hardest hard rock house Bar Bäkkäri. To get in the mood for a weekend of heavy music they’ve planned an official pre-party called Tuska Heatseeker at Tavastia on Thursday 30th. The pre-party will feature Finnish bands like glammers Santa Cruz, thrashers Lost Society and hard rockers Shiraz Lane.
For a closer look on prices, bands performing and so on, go here.
If you want to get into the mood, check out the official after movie of last year’s edition:
Tuska Open Air 2016 takes place from July 1st till 3rd and there are still tickets available, for additional information go to:
GRIMM Ghent will be represented, hope to see you there!