Holiday decorations in the Finnish capital contradict the idea that the northern winter must be a time of lingering darkness. Our photographer ventures out in search of illumination. Bring on the light!
When the holiday lights on Alexander Street come to life in late November, Helsinkians know that the Christmas season has begun in earnest. Senate Square always features a huge, locally harvested Christmas tree – workers spend several days in a bucket lift adorning the tree with lights. All across the city, merchants spare no expense to make their windows glow with seasonal cheer. Sample the holiday spirit in our slideshow!
A light-hearted Christmas in Helsinki
Look up to get a down-to-earth view of the decorations that adorn the atrium at Kamppi, a downtown Helsinki shopping centre.
Kamppi’s display of illuminated presents provides an oh-so-subtle hint of the approach of Christmas.
Each holiday season, stores attract children with elaborate Christmas displays set to music. The traditional favourite in Helsinki occupies a corner display window at Stockmann, the city’s largest department store.
Christmas lights and car lights cross paths at one end of Keskuskatu (Central Street), a city-centre pedestrian area.
For Finnish shoe designer Minna Parikka, who runs a flagship store on Alexander Street, the holiday season offers the perfect excuse to create an elaborate, decorative window display for her elaborately decorated shoes and accessories – as if she needed an excuse.
Finnish national poet Johann Ludvig Runeberg looks out over a decorated Esplanade. At park level stands a figure representing Finland, with her arm over a scroll that contains the words to the national anthem – which Runeberg wrote.
Illuminating the hand of truth: Gunnar Finne’s “Fact and Fable,” a monument on the Esplanade to the writer Zacharias Topelius, includes statues of two women who represent truth and fiction.
A giant snowflake lights up the foreground as Helsinkians ascend to another level in Citycenter, a shopping venue across from the Central Railway Station.
Torches glow outside a restaurant on Sofia Street, just south of Senate Square.
The ghost of the number 4 tram glides up the slope of a Christmas-clad Alexander Street.
A group of friends admires the 20-metre (67-foot) Christmas tree from the cathedral steps on Senate Square.
The star at the top of the Christmas tree on Senate Square stands out against the tower of the Lutheran Cathedral as St John looks on.
Photos by Tim Bird,
Text by Peter Marten