Helsinki Pride was celebrated this year together with EuroGames, the LGBT sporting event, which is open to everyone, irrespective of sex, age, sexual identity or physical abilities. Both events featured a number of Eurovision and related artists during the week.
EuroGames Opening Ceremony
The EuroGames Opening Ceremony on Wednesday was an open event for all taking place in the middle of the city at the EuroGames Village. It included official opening speeches, the traditional flag ceremony and several Finnish Eurovision stars and participants of the Finnish national preselection UMK (Uuden musiikin kilpailu): Krista Siegfrids (Finland 2013), Sandhja (Finland 2016), Softengine (Finland 2014) and Mikael Saari (UMK 2013 & UMK 2016). Saara Aalto, who also participated in UMK this year, was one of the hosts of the show.
Right after the opening ceremony, another UMK 2016 participant and the true disco queen of Finland, Eini, performed in the Hercules night club.
Let’s get happy and let’s be gay – more celebrations for the Pride week
The EuroGames Village programme continued during the Pride week. On Thursday, Tuuli Okkonen, who participated in UMK this year with her beautiful ballad ‘Don’t wake me up’, gave a nice mini concert with both her own songs and some covers. Tuuli is a Eurovision fan as well and chose to perform two of her favourites, Conchita’s ‘Rise like a phoenix’ (winning song for Austria in 2014) and Dami Im’s ‘The sound of silence’ (Australia 2016).
Another Finnish national selection participant of this year could be seen on stage on Thursday, as Cristal Snow, who participated in UMK with his powerful ballad ‘Love is blind’, was hosting the annual Mr. Gay Finland competition.
On Friday evening, OGAE Finland arranged for the 3rd time a Eurovision Sing-Along event as a part of the Pride Week. The hour-long singing session included a range of original Eurovision performances from the 60s to the 2010s. Among the songs played were classics like ‘L’amour est bleu’ as well as modern songs: ‘Marry me’, ‘Tornerò, ‘Bana bana’, ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ to mention a few. The songs were subtitled to make singing along easier.
Opera Skaala, who finished third in UMK 2015 with ‘Heart of Light’ and was awarded with Fan Favourite Award by Finnish Eurovision fans, was a guest star in the Botta Restaurant on Friday.
Eurovision with Pride! The parade and parties on Saturday
Eurovision Song Contest was also well represented during the Pride Parade on Saturday, as OGAE Finland had its own bus full of great music and happy celebrating Eurovision fans. We got a lot of waves from people watching the parade on the streets, and they also sang along to many well-known Eurovision tunes. The Finnish entry from 1987, ‘Sata salamaa’ (by Vicky Rosti) is still very popular after almost 30 years.
The Pride Park Festival, the highlight of the Pride week, featured one Eurovision-related artist: the pop and dance group Movetron, who had participated in the Finnish national selections in 2008.
The official Pride song of the year was ‘Full Circle Rainbow’ by an upcoming artist Mia Renwall.
Eurovision Pride Party at the night club Hercules featured an international guest, Suzy, who represented Portugal in 2014 with her catchy pop tune ‘Quero ser tua’. During the night, she also covered several Eurovision songs, such as ‘La la love’ (Ivi Adamou, Cyprus 2012), ‘Düm tek tek’ (Hadise, Turkey 2009) and ‘Sound of silence’.
Krista Siegfrids, meanwhile, was one of the artists in the official EuroGames & Helsinki Pride Closing Party on Saturday night. She performed her entry for Finland in 2013, ‘Marry me’, as well as her Melodifestivalen entry from this year, ‘Faller’.
Hard Rock Hallelujah for the Tuska Open Air Metal Festival
The Pride wasn’t the only festival in Helsinki that weekend. Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, the annual heavy metal event, takes place during the same weekend as the Pride. This year also Tuska had Eurovision flavours as Finland’s very own Lordi, the only Finnish winner so far, took the stage on Friday 1st July. The monster rock band performed a string of hits, including the winning anthem ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’.
The German rock opera project Avantasia battled to represent their country in the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm this year, but placed third out of the ten featured acts on the German selection Unser Lied Für Stockholm. Avantasia was one of the artists performing in Tuska on Friday, and the audience got to hear their Eurovision candidate ‘Mystery of a blood red rose’.