Flow Festival in Helsinki is on the rise. Well, really it has been for a while now, but it seems to be breaking into the mainstream in a big way these days. A look at the epic lineup for this year's edition shows that.
That being said, it feels like the festival is at that stage where it pops up in conversation often, but you aren't entirely sure you know what it is, so you just nod along sheepishly.
The time has come to fix that, though, so we thought we'd put together a list of five awesome things you may not know about Flow Festival.
They take food seriously
Flow Fest organisers pride themselves in offering the best food Helsinki has to offer. There are approximately 40 restaurants represented, all offering culinary delights well above your normal festival experience.
Not only does it taste good, it is good. As one of the first carbon neutral music festivals in the world, organisers have created a Sustainable Meal program, encouraging food vendors to use locally sourced, organic ingredients and offer vegetarian and vegan options.
More than music
Without a doubt music is the main event at Flow Fest. But that doesn't make it the only event. Flow Fest organisers annually collaborate with the University of Arts Helsinki to fill the festival site with art installations featuring physical, video and sound art pieces, as well as performance and street artists.
As the festival has grown, so too has the role of non-musical art. New exhibition spaces have been added and organisers are determined to make Flow a fully-fledged multi-sensory experience.
And for the first time in 2019, Flow’s art program will expand to outside the festival site to the Finnish National Opera. Contemporary dance, electronic music and audiovisual art take over the Finnish National Opera’s Almi Hall on the Wednesday and Thursday just before the main festival.
Flow Fest actually starts earlier then you think. The afternoon of the festival's first day is dedicated to Flow Talks. Here, a pre-ordained theme is investigated through expert keynote speeches and discussions, with potential ways forward carved out through co-creation.
The festival site
Set in a defunct power plant in an old industrial neighbourhood, Flow Fest offers a unique festival site. Stark metal and concrete structures abound and a massive disused gasholder looms over the site, creating a distinctive landscape. Who said brutalism was dead?
But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the site is the Balloon 360° stage. Introduced in 2012 as the result of an international architecture contest, the roof of the stage is a gigantic pressurised balloon. At night coloured lights are projected onto it, making the balloon look like a giant glowing orb.
Don't forget Helsinki
The best thing about urban festivals is that you can include the city in your festival experience. That being said, a lot of self-proclaimed urban festivals are actually a long way out of town. This is definitely not the case with Flow Fest, the site is a short walk from the city centre.
Because of this, a wide range of after-parties, from official ones in big clubs to underground ones in warehouses, take place each night after the festival ends.