2017 is the centenary of Finland’s independence, and Suomenlinna will host a number of celebrations throughout the year. The programme includes parties, concerts, art and exhibitions. The island’s restaurants offer special menus and cafés serve specialty cakes to celebrate the year.
The jubilee programme starts in February with three concerts by choir Philomela, singing life into the events of years 1917–1918 in Finland. Photography exhibition by Tim Bird, Suomenlinna – Islands of Light, will open in March and April at the Suomenlinna Museum. In September, the bakery at Tenaille von Fersen will house an audible exhibition called Satavuotias yö (“One Hundred Years of Night”), including a series of concerts.
Local artists will direct the young talents of Suomenlinna—schoolchildren and day care groups—to prepare a performance on the future of the fortress, as seen through children’s eyes. Performances will be at Tenaille von Fersen in November.
Local artists make the fortress international
Suomenlinna-based Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) brings an international touch to the fortress. The theme of the residence programmes during the anniversary years is Frontiers in Retreat. Gallery Augusta will host a number of exhibitions and events that originate from the residence programmes. The Helsinki Artists’ Association will present its 50th anniversary exhibition at the Jetty Barracks Gallery.
Ceramic studio Pot Viapori celebrates its 45-year-old history this year, culminating in a visit by the Estonian Asuurkeraamika, which will take place in September. The Arts & Crafts day in May will feature skillfully made works by local artisans. The jubilee has also inspired many of the island’s annual festivals this year, Viapori Independent Jazz among them.
Military fortress becomes part of independent Finland
At the turn of 1917 and 1918, the fortress was used as the Russian garrison. In those days, it was still known by its original name Sveaborg or Viapori in Finnish. The fortress became officially part of independent Finland on 12 May 1918 when the flag of Finland was hoisted for the first time on bastion Zander at Kustaanmiekka. The fortress was renamed Suomenlinna at the same occasion. For this reason, the centenary festivities will continue on Suomenlinnna until May 2018.
Finnish fortress with a rocky start
Spring 2018 is not only about celebration, but also commemoration. The Finnish Civil War brought its turmoil in the form of prison camps on the islands even before the Finnish flag was hoisted to mark the country’s independence. The Karzer wing in the Ehrensvärd Crown Castle will be open to the public in 2018. The former prison has been converted into a museum. Another formerly closed building, the air surveillance centre used during the Second World War, will also welcome visitors in 2018, to celebrate the 100-year history of the Finnish Air Force.
The Governing Body of Suomenlinna will join the celebration by renovating some of the central locations, such as the King’s Gate and the tomb of Ehrensvärd, and by compiling an online exhibition that presents Sveaborg at the end of the Russian reign.
We will publish information on individual events that are part of the centenary programme on Suomenlinna on Events calendar as soon as the programme is confirmed.