Matt's Guide to Helsinki... Part 4

An island off Helsinki

After managing to get from the airport, finding some digs, going out all day, and having some fabulous food, you want to while away the evenings in style.  Helsinki, like any decent European capital has a shed load of entertainment on offer to keep you occupied into the early hours.  A word of warning: alcohol in Finland tends to be taxed heavily and costs an arm and a leg.  As a result, most Finns will tend to start their evenings at home with a couple of beers and head out later on; this means that bars and nightclubs tend to look like ghost towns until around 10pm when things start to warm up.  The upside to this is that most drinking establishments continue on into the early hours so you can party all night if you want. 

Bars & General Entertainment

There is no shortage of bars in and around the Helsinki area.  For a quiet night, hanging in a hotel bar is a good idea.  Otherwise:

  • If there's a hockey game on and you're not going to see it live, head for the Sports Academy bar opposite the Railway Station.  Loads of large screen TVs and beer on tap mean you won't miss a goal, or indeed the celebration afterwards.  
  • Or even better, watch a game live - The Helsinki Jokerit (Jokers) play at the Hartwall Areena and HIFK play at the Helsinki Ice Hall
  • The top floor of the Kamppi Shopping Centre houses a 10 Pin Bowling Alley and Bar.
  • The rooftop bar in the Hotel Torni gives some of the best views of the city. 
  • The Kafe Moskva is a nod to the former Soviet Union... worth a visit just to feel as though you've stepped onto the set of Red Heat.   

Music

Finland is home to a number of heavy metal bands; some say that this is because the language suits that style of music, others think it's because of the dark nights.  Keep your eyes open on these websites for some great gigs:

  • Tavastia is a club just behind the Kamppi centre which offers plenty of live music.  You'll see shed loads of local bands and the occasional US/UK band there too.  
  • Semifinal is Tavastia's sister club, a little smaller but again offers a barrel load of music to suit many a taste.  
  • Attracting a more international complement is The Circus, located just behind Lasipalatsi.  At the time of writing (May 2014) Korn and Manic Street Preachers were headlining.  
  • Slightly off-piste is the Gloria Culture Arena located off the beaten track on Pieni Roobertinkatu.  Being a council owned/run venue, it attracts some unusual artists, but I had the pleasure of seeing the Second Hand Hasselhoffs and Pasa there for free.  Hint: K18 next to a show means it's over 18s only and booze will be on offer; -S- means that it's an alcohol free affair and K18/-S- means that upstairs is for the booze and downstairs for the soda. 
  • In the summer, keep an eye out on the Helsinki website for loads of outdoor shows and music in the various squares and parks in the city.  

Film

Finland's main cinema chain is Finnkino which serves up a vast array of local and international fodder for consumption.  Films are generally shown with the original language soundtrack with subtitles in Finnish and Swedish.  For English speakers, this is a godsend, unless the original film is French, in which case you're tripply stuffed.  Where a film is dubbed (usually kids cartoons) the listing will clearly show (Dub) but feel free to check with cinema staff.

The two cinemas to focus on are:

  • Tennispalatsi - located to the North of the Kamppi centre, there are 14 screens to choose from.  Keep your ticket as it has the code to open the door to the toilets printed on it (WC Ovikoodi).
  • The Kinopalatsi is located near to Kaisaniemi Metro station and has 10 screens to try out.  Amazingly, the schedulers manage to ensure that the Kinopalatsi has different films on to the Tennispalatsi so it's always worth checking both out.  Also, timings tend to be very different. 

Overall, Finnish cinemas tend to be very similar to our multiplexes here in the UK, although the quality of seating/accommodation tends to be far superior.  You'll also find that although it seems a little more expensive to buy a ticket, you cetainly feel less ripped off at the concession counter.

So that's your evening planned :) 

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