Huvila, the lofty concert hall, a musical oasis during two weeks amidst Helsinki in lovely late August is situated just by the water at Eläintarhanranta. Designed by Roy Mänttäri for the Helsinki Festival (Helsingin juhlaviikot) the tent has been erected every year at the same spot since 1995 – and this year now for the 30th time! Will we see something special?

The location really is extraordinary. The tent sits nicely in the park Tokoinranta partly covered by chestnut trees and surrounded by the green grass inviting for a late sunset picnic. Just a stone throw away from the Hakaniemi public transportation hub.

The tent has hosted many an artist featuring both local and global ones. My very first Huvila gig was on August 22, 2007 (Taj Mahal was on stage), I was assigned by a German-Finnish cultural magazine. I have returned every year and since 2009 been assigned by the organiser HelsinkiFestival itself. I have had close to 30 gigs covering some 55 official bands as well as over a dozen of concepts or bands just created for that one Huvila night.

huvila, the white tent surrounded by a lot of green

Not your ordinary tent

The tent itself -and the fenced-off festival area- truly serves its purpose well. Once inside the area you can have a drink by the bar in the shade of another, smaller tent while waiting for the support or the main act to start. The Huvila is like a gigantic tortoise shell, yet very light in structure. Upon entering through a small curtain you are surprised by the huge space opening up. The sides are open, covered only by fine black fabric, a gauze of sorts, which by letting you see outside even enhances the sense of being in a vast space.

full house, the crowd still sitting which is about to change, on stage Scandinavian Music Group

The tortoise’s “spine” curves high up, connecting the back entrance with the stage.

lofty huvila

In front of the stage there usually is a lot of room for the crowd to interact with the artists, most commonly dancing in all possible fashions. And if the designated dance area becomes crowded people will against the house rules seek their space elsewhere.

One of the more fun gigs are the childrens’ afternoons when the tent fills up with families and the going gets creative. Artists perform childrens’ songs or arrange grown ups’ song for children. The kids love it because anything goes!

On the other hand one of the house rules does not allow photography, only accredited photographers are. But I cannot blame them, it is tempting since you get very, very close to the artists and the stage is not high up at all.

HelsinkiFestival hosts VIP evenings for distingueshed sponsors at Huvila. The food looks delicious, I wouldn’t know about the taste though ? as I have not had the pleasure.

Rare glimpses of the backstage area

backstage, artist and crew

More revealing and behind the scene photographs, a total of 60, can be viewed in my To huvila gallery. The photographs displayed here and on my gallery are my own selection, boiled down from roughly 1500 photographs with the focus on Huvila and not the artists performing, that is a different batch altogether. Somebody would make another choice, I am sure.