Helsinki Festival performances cancelled from 20 August – opening concert and Brian Eno exhibition in Helsinki Music Centre to go ahead as planned

In the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland’s decision issued today, from 20 August public events may only be organised by separating audiences into blocks. Helsinki Festival venues do not allow audiences to be separated as required. This means that once the decision enters into force, it will not be possible to hold concerts and dance performances in the Huvila Festival Tent, Musiikkitalo and the Cable Factory as planned. Helsinki Festival will therefore cancel all programmed performances as of 20 August. The entire concert series in the Huvila Festival Tent will be cancelled. Persons who have already bought tickets for these events will be contacted as soon as possible.

Helsinki Festival will open on 19 August with Philip Glass’s Heroes Symphony and Brian Eno’s 77 million paintings exhibition in Helsinki Music Centre. The exhibition will remain open until 5 September. The opening concert can also be experienced by live stream in cooperation with Helsingin Sanomat. On 19 August, a live sound artwork by Länsman, Norvio ja Rinne will also provide the background for Janet Echelman’s massive aerial sculpture 1.78.

The three Festival weekends will see a total of almost a thousand Art Gifts delivered around Helsinki. Anyone can book a short art performance for a friend or loved one. The content of each Art Gift will be a surprise both to the person booking it and to the recipient. Art Gifts can be booked from 12 midday on 16 August onwards at In addition, around 50 intimate Block Concerts will be heard in Helsinki courtyards on the closing weekend of the Helsinki Festival.

Also the AISTIT – Coming to our Senses exhibition series can be seen at Kunsthalle Helsinki. The Finnish première of Tero Saarinen Company’s Transit will take place in the marine cable plant at the Cable Factory. The situation of other collaboration events and the Helsinki Festival Friends’ festivals will be established and the programme will be updated online at

“We greatly regret having to cancel the carefully planned events and apologise both to performers and the public alike. With regard to the requirement to separate the audience, the decision of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland differs significantly from the guidelines of Pirkanmaa and Southwest Finland, which are similarly at the spreading stage of the virus and which only require safe distancing. The Communicable Diseases Act contains no mention of separating the audience into blocks as a measure during any pandemic stage,” says Helsinki Events Foundation CEO Stuba Nikula.

“The financial hit of cancelling Helsinki festival will not be known until later when applications for event guarantee are made to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and for corona support to the Ministry of Education and Culture are processed.”

Photo: Jussi Hellsten