Art and Culture: Key Enablers for Happiness in Helsinki
The World Happiness Report has anointed Finland as the world’s happiest country for six years straight. What makes a Nordic land with 5,5 million people so happy? In Helsinki, the capital of Finland, art and culture make the city a good place to live and visit.
According to the UN-published report, Finns rate highly on key issues such as a high level of education, affordable healthcare, social stability, and positive work-life balance. But it’s not just these societal indicators that affect how Finns view their quality of life – Culture and art are highly prized aspects as well.
“We see a vibrant cultural sphere that is accessible and affordable for all citizens as a major contributor to everyday happiness. And we are looking at culture through a broad lens: from urban city culture to sauna culture to high-end cultural offerings, such as the world-famous Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a diverse mix,” according to Reetta Heiskanen, Deputy Culture Director at the City of Helsinki.
The capital of Finland, Helsinki, is home to approximately 650,000 people, with more than 1.5 million inhabitants living in the wider metropolitan area. This area includes the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. Known for its inclusive culture and openness, the compact city has a well-developed transportation system designed to make the city more accessible for the public.
In Helsinki, cultural events are designed for everybody, regardless the socioeconomic status, with world-class ambition. The city’s expanding cultural life makes the city a more exciting and diverse place for residents and visitors.
“Good examples are the Helsinki Festival and Flow Festival that draw international music lovers’ and urban hipsters’ attention to Helsinki every August. As well as the Helsinki Biennial, a visual art festival in summer – dealing this year with the wicked problems of our time, such as environmental crisis, political conflicts, and the consequences of technological development,” Heiskanen says.
“In Helsinki, culture belongs to everyone. For example, in the Culture Kids program, every child from Helsinki born in the 2020s has a cultural institution as a host, through whom the children and their families get a personal touch with art,” she adds.
Culture Supports Economy
Helsinki has a Nordic approach to art and culture: A unique urban culture is a key enabler of a good life – and culture also supports economic wellbeing.
Culture and events make Helsinki an enjoyable, dynamic, and attractive city. Cultural events boost economic development – while the city government is flexible, people and businesses find the city easy to work with when arranging events, big or small.
But what good would it be to provide interesting cultural offerings if people don’t have the time and energy to enjoy them? If you are working long hours, wouldn’t the sofa be the best option after a long day?
The answer is Finland’s emphasis on work-life balance. This year, Helsinki placed second in the Forbes worldwide work-life balance index of major cities. Generous paid leave and flexible work arrangements, such as hybrid and remote working, were among the factors cited for the high ranking.
“It’s a Nordic dream, a good everyday life, which you can achieve in Helsinki. This means that you can build a successful career and still have enough time and energy for a flourishing personal life and cultural experiences. A vibrant culture creates an attractive city that is easy to fall in love with,” Heiskanen concludes.
Unleash Your Curiosity About Finnish Culture
This year offers unique cultural offerings in Helsinki throughout the year. There are multiple great exhibition openings, such as world-famous Tom of Finland and Albert Edelfelt, in Ateneum, Finnish National Museum of Art, which will open its doors after a year-long renovation.
When traveling to Helsinki, MyHelsinki.fi, the official website of the city marketing company Helsinki Partners, is the local guide for discovering the most inspiring sights, events, and novelties in Helsinki.
Resources for planning a trip to Helsinki: