Helsinki Design Week, September
Juhannus (Midsummer), June
Helsingin Juhlaviikot, August
Lux Helsinki, January
Tuska Festival, June
January in Helsinki is cold, snowy and dark, but museums and cosy cafes, bars and restaurants make wonderful refuges from the elements, and crowd numbers are almost as low as the temperatures.
Some 15 installations create a route from the kauppatori to Kruununhaka during the four-day Lux Helsinki festival, which brings light to the dark, chilly city in early January.
In February temperatures, and visitor numbers, are still low. This is probably Helsinki's least festive month, but the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) can sometimes be seen.
Temperatures begin to rise in March and hours of light dramatically increase, particularly from the last Sunday of the month, which welcomes daylight saving time.
Helsinki Sauna Day
For one day in early March, saunas all over the city that are normally private (in apartment blocks, government buildings, offices and hotels) open to the public free of charge on Helsinki Sauna Day.
Spring arrives in April: daylight hours continue to soar, leaves green the trees and outdoor activities increase. On Pääsiäinen (Easter) Sunday people go to church, paint eggs and eat mämmi (rye and malt pudding).
Helsinki Beer Festival
Finnish and guest international beers and ciders, along with DJs and bands, pull in the punters to this rollicking beer festival held at the Kaapelitehdas over two days in early April. There are also food pairings, barbecues, brewing workshops, pouring workshops and various other events.
Helsinki Coffee Festival
Helsinki's love of coffee is celebrated during late April's three-day Helsinki Coffee Festival at the Kaapelitehdas, with roasting demonstrations, tastings, exhibitions, competitions and workshops on themes such as different brewing methods and cooking with coffee.
April Jazz Festival
Jazz, soul, funk, Latin and world music all feature in Espoo's week-long April Jazz Festival, which draws big crowds and international artists to various locations around this satellite city west of Helsinki.
This student graduation festival is celebrated by gathering around the Havis Amanda statue, which receives a white graduation cap, at 6pm on 30 April. The following day, May Day, is celebrated with plenty of sparkling wine, preferably outdoors, such as in the waterfront park Kaivopuisto.
May Day's picnics and sparkling-wine celebrations start the month off on an upbeat note. Cafe terraces flourish, as do the city's parks and gardens, and outdoor activities ramp up.
The sun stays above the horizon for 19 hours and Helsinki all but empties out for midsummer as residents head to lakeside cottages – expect busy traffic and transport services, and widespread closures.
Celebrating the city’s anniversary on 12 June, Helsinki Päivä (Helsinki Day) brings many free events, with food stalls, concerts, theatre and dance performances, art exhibitions, workshops, cinema screenings, sports events and wellness activities.
On the weekend closest to 22 June, Juhannus (Midsummer) is the most important annual event for Finns, celebrating the longest day of the year. The Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo, on the island of Seurasaari, sees the best celebration around Helsinki, with bonfires, midsummer poles and traditional activities.
Every year Helsinki’s LGBTIQ community celebrates during the week-long Helsinki Pride festival, which includes balls, karaoke and picnics. The 2.5km parade of colourful floats through the city's streets on the Saturday is a highlight.
Over four days in late June and/or early July, the huge Tuska Festival in the suburb of Suvilahti, northeast of the centre on the edge of Kallio, features one of Finland's all-time favourite music genres – metal – with local and international acts.
July sees long, long days and plenty of sunshine. This is the traditional holiday month, when many locals are at summer cottages or further afield, so while sights remain open, some restaurants and shops close.
Most Helsinki residents are back at work, so most businesses are open again, there are plenty of events and the weather is ideal for spending time outdoors.
Over three days on a weekend in mid-August, Flow Festival sees indie, hip-hop, electronic and experimental music rock the suburb of Suvilahti, adjacent to Kallio.
From mid-August to early September, the three-week arts festival Helsingin Juhlaviikot (Helsinki Festival) features chamber music, jazz, theatre, opera and more at venues throughout the city.
Autumn colours are spectacular in the city's parks and gardens. Evenings in particular are starting to get chilly, so you'll need to bring warm clothes.
Helsinki Design Week
Spanning 10 days (rather than a week), the Nordic countries' largest design festival has 250-plus events, including workshops, talks, exhibitions, pop-up shops, product launches and parties citywide.
Cold weather descends, crowds thin out and locals face the realities of another long winter approaching. Once daylight saving ends on the last Sunday of October, there’s no denying its arrival.
Baltic Herring Fair
Delicious salted and marinated herring is traded at this fair on Helsinki's main market square, the kauppatori, in the first week of October. It's been going since 1743.
Days continue to draw in closer during this dark, cold month, but the Jääpuisto outdoor ice rink opens and November often brings the first snowfall, giving the city a magical, picture-book appearance.
Helsinki celebrates the Christmas period with warming mulled wines and ciders, Christmas markets and festive traditions putting the meaning back into the event. The Senaatintori (Senate Sq) is the scene of New Year's celebrations.
Itsenäisyyspäivä (Independence Day)
Blue-and-white flags fly throughout the city on Itsenäisyyspäivä, Finland's independence day on 6 December. Windows are adorned with blue-and-white candles, and pastries with blue-and-white icing are sold at the city's bakeries. Commemorative events include tributes at war memorials, special church services and torch-lit processions from cemeteries.