Johanna Freundlich appointed Helsinki Festival’s artistic director

Helsinki Festival is the largest urban arts festival in the Nordic countries. The festival, which celebrates its fifty-sixth anniversary, seeks even wider audiences and strong forms of cooperation with the Finnish and international arts and culture scene.

Johanna Freundlich has been appointed Helsinki Festival’s artistic director effective 24 January 2024. She will be responsible for the artistic planning of the festival for the five-year term 2025 to 2029. Freundlich is a cultural multi-talent with experience as a theatre and opera director, screenwriter and dramaturg, as well as experience of classical music productions. In addition, she has been a member of the artistic management team of Tampere Theatre Festival. She also has international directorial experience from countries such as the United States and Russia.

“For decades, Helsinki Festival has provided unique cultural and artistic experiences to a wide audience. A change of artistic director always allows a festival to revitalise, and we are delighted that a new direction is now being defined by someone like Johanna. The Board and management of the Helsinki Events Foundation are convinced that her expertise and vision will allow the Festival to continue to create meaningful and completely unique cultural experiences, and to develop a Helsinki of diverse art,” says Laura Rissanen, Chair of the Board of Helsinki Events Foundation, which organises the Festival.

“Helsinki Festival is an amazing polyphonic festival that genuinely reflects Helsinki and is very much on the radar internationally,” says newly appointed artistic director Johanna Freundlich. “I’ve seen the work of four previous artistic directors and it’s an honour to be part of this continuum. Its breadth and multidisciplinary approach makes Helsinki Festival accessible to all Helsinki residents and connects very different people to the same event – to be a kind of great common denominator.”

Marko Ahtisaari has served as the Festival’s artistic director for the five-year term 2019–2024 and is still responsible for the 2024 Helsinki Festival programme. Some of this year’s programme, including the visit by The Cleveland Orchestra, has already been announced and the full programme will be published in March-April. This is the first time in the history of the Festival that the transition period between artistic directors is so long.

Helsinki Festival will take place from 15 August to 1 September 2024. For the programme and more information go to More of the programme will be published in spring 2024.

Helsinki Festival’s main partner is Elisa, the sponsor is Accenture and the service partners are Akun tehdas, Grano, Heku, Marski by Scandic and Renault.

Image: Saara Autere