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Halloween may not be the biggest holiday in Finland, but there are still a few places in the capital city of Helsinki to celebrate all things scary. The dark nights and old buildings create a spooky atmosphere alongside the growing number of attractions offering Halloween events.
The old stone tunnels and crumbling ruins of the military fortress are the perfect backdrops for Halloween activities, whether it is telling ghost stories or a costume photo shoot. A few days after Halloween, Suomenlinna also hosts a day event for All Saint’s Day, the traditional holiday that inspired modern Halloween celebrations. The Viaporin Kekri event is based upon near-forgotten pagan traditions of welcoming the oncoming winter and embracing it without fear. Activities include tarot card readings, parties, live performances, and craft workshops, many of which are appropriate for children. The main event is the traditional burning of the ‘kekri buck’, where visitors write down their fears and sorrows onto slips of paper and ‘feed’ them to the straw ram that is then ceremoniously set on fire at sunset.
Run by After Dark Helsinki, this Halloween carnival is held in a former abattoir building with games, carnival food, and a bonfire. A special escape room event is hosted by aMazed Games with a story based on the former abattoir butchers. This event definitely isn’t suitable for children, but perfect for those who like their horror as grizzly and gruesome as possible.
The zoo may sound like an odd place to spend Halloween, but the Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki has some special family and school group Halloween activities for the autumn season. During Halloween weekend and through to All Saint’s Day, the zoo will have a special exhibit where you can hold snakes or test your courage by putting your head into a container full of cockroaches. The rest of the animals at the zoo also get to join in the fun with Halloween-themed treats and decorations plus creepy lighting in the indoor enclosures.
On top of the Halloween slaughterhouse event, you can find lots of frightening games at the aMazed Escape Room in Kamppi. Choices include the Blackout room, where you must use all of your senses except for sight to find a way out, The Shackle King scenario set in a creepy hotel, or the horror-themed rooms with Jack the Ripper and the Bedlam Asylum.
For an ‘alternative’ tour of the Helsinki sights, the Helsinki Horror Walk has plenty of fascinating, funny and scary stories. Starting from the Katajanokka Hotel, a refurbished prison building, the two-hour tour travels through central Helsinki with stories of ghosts, murder, and spirits. You will hear the remarkable history of Helsinki that is not included in guidebooks and see sights such as the plague cemetery and buccaneer hideaways that you probably never paid attention to before. Dress up warmly and wear comfortable shoes for a spine-tingling horror walk around Helsinki that’s guaranteed to make you look at the city in a different light by the time it’s over.
There’s nothing spookier than a cemetery during Halloween, and the Hietaniemen Cemetery is one of Finland’s largest, containing graves of some of the country’s most well known and beloved figures. As the gates are open until 10pm, you are able to roam around freely as long as you are respectful towards the graves and mourners. On All Saint’s Day, the cemetery is lit up by hundreds of memorial candles, which make for an eerily beautiful sight.
For a good Halloween party, Bar Loose in downtown Helsinki hosts the Spooktacular Halloween night. This year, the event will take place on October 27th with a theme of ‘Freaky Venetians’ where attendees will be able to win prizes for the best costume. The club also hosts a number of rock and heavy metal acts that will be playing throughout October and November to keep the Halloween spirit up through the entire autumn.