Helsinki rocks both Pride and heavy metal fest on same weekend

Two annual traditions happen at the same time in the Finnish capital in late June or early July: Helsinki Pride, with its rainbow-coloured parade, and Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, where the dominant colour is black. See our slideshow.

Both Pride and Tuska include crowds of partying participants, loud music, dancing, makeup and fancy fashion statements.

Helsinki has room for everyone to hang out and enjoy their music. On Saturday evening after the Pride Parade is over, you can see some rainbow gear mixed in with the black T-shirts at Tuska.

And we aren’t making this next part up: On recent year, as a bank of clouds lurked offshore behind the Tuska venue, with dark, misty edges that threatened rain, a lone cyclist crested a nearby hill, looked back, and saw a rainbow descending from those clouds.

A crowd watches a concert on a large outdoor stage.

The crowd at Tuska is up for German band Kreator. Photo: Jesse Kämäräinen/Tuska

Several flagpoles have rainbow flags on them, in front of the Helsinki Railway Station's landmark tower.

Rainbow flags fly over Railway Square. Photo: Peter Marten

Several concertgoers are ordering food from an outdoor food stand.

Cuisine options at Tuska Open Air Metal Festival include healthy s**t. Photo: Peter Marten

Several concertgoers are ordering food from an outdoor food stand.

“Go vegan or die trying” is another Tuska food stand. Don’t do anything halfway, the message seems to be. Photo: Peter Marten

A musician on a stage plays guitar while a sea of fans waves their arms.

Finnish band Mokoma pleases the fans at Tuska. Photo: Jesse Kämäräinen/Tuska

A rainbow-decorated truck full of people with balloons and with a sign that says Helsinki Pride.

A rainbow parade makes its way down Alexander Street during Helsinki Pride. Photo: Peter Marten

A colourful parade progresses down a main street in Helsinki, with a cloud in the sky far behind it.

There was a cloud, but the parade remained in the sun. Photo: Peter Marten

A person in a Santa Claus suit is distributing something to people watching the parade.

Santa Claus (sort of) is handing out gingerbread at the Pride Parade. Photo: Peter Marten

Several metal fans dressed in genre gear wave their hands at a concert.

The Tuska crowd keeps on smiling. Photo: Jesse Kämäräinen/Tuska

Two concertgoers in black T-shirts hug each other.

“Tuska” means “agony” in Finnish. But there’s room for love. Photo: Jesse Kämäräinen/Tuska

By Peter Marten, July 2018, updated June 2023