Western Finnish town of Pori hosts jazz and big ideas every summer

They say that all of Finland takes a break in July, since that’s the most popular month for summer holidays. This isn’t the case in Pori, a town on the west coast (see our slideshow).

For one week every July, Pori is packed with people from near and far. They show up to enjoy jazz music and to take part in a diverse range of discussions as the city hosts two large events: Pori Jazz Festival and Suomi Areena (Finland Arena).

First held in 1966, Pori Jazz is the oldest jazz fest in Europe and one of the most beloved summer festivals in Finland. The event lasts a whopping nine days, and around two-thirds of the concerts are free-admission.

Suomi Areena, on the other hand, began in 2006 and is the biggest public debate forum in Finland. Its stages and venues are set up in the streets, squares and parks of Pori city centre. The events are free of charge, and the topics of discussion include society, culture and politics. The theme for 2019 is future innovations and know-how. Most sessions are in Finnish, but there are some in Swedish and English as well.

In 2018, Pori Jazz counted 58,000 festival-goers and Suomi Areena gathered 67,000 participants. That’s not bad for a city with a population of 84,000, which, by the way, makes Pori the tenth-largest city in Finland.

Summertime in Pori

By Iiris Nelimarkka, July 2019