Last year we got to enjoy one of the biggest metal festivals of THE metal country Finland. 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. There are quite a few festivals throughout the year, but the best one to pick would be Tuska Open Air, held every year in the beginning of July in the capital city Helsinki. For this year’s edition they promised an even bigger and more awesome event than before to celebrate their 20th anniversary, so what else can you do but be there?
Again they’ve gone for headliners that you won’t necessarily see headlining on the main stage at other big European metal festivals. On Friday Swedish powerhouse Sabaton will raise their banners on the mainstage to sing about wars and battlefields while the sun slightly fading away. The Saturday will be a day to not miss with locals HIM playing the last show of the day, which is basically the first show of their farewell tour since they recently decided to call it quits (read more about it here). One last time they’ll cover the grounds of Suvilahti with their typical Gothic influenced “love metal/rock”. And the band that gets to close down the festival on Sunday are the groove masters of Mastodon and with a great new release under their arms, we’ll be able to groove and headbang our way out of this anniversary edition!
And that’s just the headliners! There are many great bands from all over the world like the infamous death metal/deathgrind guerilla outfit Brujeria, mind-bending music acts from Devin Townsend Project and Baroness, black metal legends Mayhem, Impaled Nazarene, Barathrum and Baptism, doom from Avatarium, Triptykon and Electric Wizard 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 Anneke Van Giersbergen’s Vuur and her acoustic intimate set and melodic death metal greats Soilwork. But for the whole list and schedule, check the image below.
Another thing that makes Tuska pretty damn awesome, is the fact that they make sure that about 50% of the bands on the bill are Finnish. You can catch bigger names like Wintersun, Insomnium, Sonata Arctica, Amorphis and Apocalyptica (playing their anniversary set of Four Cellos Play Metallica), but also smaller and upcoming names like punkers Huora, psychedelic black metal outfit Oranssi Pazuzu or industrial metal from Fear of Domination.
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 is the perfect 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. An awesome new feature thing this year is an agreement with the public transport company to offer extra metro times to get to the center more easily after the last bands. No more overly cramped busses or walking all the way back anymore… hooray for that!
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 smaller 4th stage and concept of Solmusali Stage where they provide artist and industry power player interviews, panel discussions and a Anneke van Giersbergen 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 Anneke van Giersbergen set, for which the tickets will be raffled.
Besides the stages there are merchandise areas, a food garden with a wide selection of very tasty foodtrucks and fastfood, bars and even a convenience store. The crazy Finns of Tuska even made place for a sauna on the festival area where you can sit and relax while waiting for your clothes to be washed free of charge! 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 with a nice selection of beers (and last year even a stand with “Walhalla” liquor and cocktails for sale) 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. One warning for the foreigners among us who will visit the festival: you will have to stay in the bar section with your alcoholic drink, so you can’t go right up to the stage with your drink. Though you should be able to see every single show quite easily from every bar area.
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 2017 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 Tuska is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, they have been doing a few extra stuff lately:
- They worked with artist Heidi Vornan on an exclusive Tuska jewelry line which you can see and order here.
- They released a book with pictures and testimonies by many big names that you can order (at the moment still as a package deal with an exclusive Tuska shirt) here.
- They worked with the big names of the Finnish metal and rock scene to make the official “Tuska Anniversary song”, which turned out to be an epic celebration of everything that made the festival and the Finnish music scene so great! You can go and buy it here and since the proceeds are going to a charity fund that will be given to someone that will be decided on by an advisory board containing prominent members of that same scene, it’s strongly recommended. So metalheads unite and give something back!
Since the festival day ends pretty early, Tuska has a system of an official afterparty in the city center of Helsinki. This year they’ll take place exclusively at the legendary Virgin Oil Co. venue. On Friday June 30th you can catch a show by Barren Earth, Vorna and Mørket to continue the metal festivities. On Saturday July 1st the young and upcoming “violent pop” outfit Blind Channel will be joined by hardcore punks Tryer and melancholic rockers Delta Enigma.
To get in the mood for a weekend of heavy music there’s also the second edition of the official pre-party Tuska Heatseeker at one of the oldest still operating rock venues of Europe, Tavastia on Thursday 29th. The pre-party will feature last year’s surprise of Tuska Japanese wolves Man With A Mission, supported by the Finnish bands Arion and Psychework. More bands are still to be announced!
For a closer look on prices, bands performing and so on, go here.
Or this year’s video add for the 20th anniversary:
Tuska Open Air 2016 takes place from June 30th till July 2nd and there are still tickets available, though they are going really fast at the moment. For additional information go to:
Facebook event page
GRIMM Gent will be represented, hope to see you there!