More and More People Are Joining Finland's Mermaid Movement, Here's Why

Mermaids are no longer just a fantasy in Finland
Mermaids are no longer just a fantasy in Finland | © cocoparisienne / Pixabay
Jessica Wood

An unusual site is being spotted more and more frequently in Finland’s lakes – real-life mermaids. But these are not creatures of legend or sirens luring sailors to their doom. They are local girls who are dressing up in their own mermaid costumes and role playing for fun.

Loved by over 40s
A mermaid spotted in Hawaii

The rise of the mermaid

Mermaid culture, or ‘mermaiding’, has been growing in popularity around the world for several years now, mostly thanks to the rise of social media. Some create their own mermaid personas while others cosplay as famous mermaid characters in pop culture who have inspired their love of mermaids, the most popular being Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

A cosplayer dressed as Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid

A small number in the movement have been able to quit their jobs to become professional mermaids, such as Riia, a Finnish mermaid from Lake Saimaa (one of the largest lakes in Europe). As well as being a certified diving and swimming instructor, Riia makes a living appearing at events in her costume and giving mermaid classes, since swimming like a mermaid is a surprisingly good workout.
Ever thought of what it “takes” to be a mermaid entertainer? Don’t them mermaids just sit pretty and comb their hair all day? 😉 Well, that’s not quite true 😊 Now, close your eyes for a sec. Imagine having 15kg weight attached to your feet in a pool while swimming for 1 hour. At the same time entertaining a crowd of younglings while looking like you’re not drowning. Sounds easy, right? 😀 Making things look “easy” isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of work, dedication and million other things that happen behind the scenes that you might not always unfortunately get to see. What people usually see is the polished product. From countless work hours on planning shows, how to keep crowds entertained and engaged, prepping, taking care of safety, training, maintaining your skills, certifications to equipments. Long days of working, traveling and lugging heavy wet equipments. Exhaustion, bruises, runny eyes, occasional infections and other job hazards. This is a JOB. But to me it’s still THE BEST job in the world. I have had the most wonderful and the most awful experiences as an entertainer. But every customer, person or child I meet makes all the effort WORTH IT! To me performing isn’t about looks or how many likes I get on social media. To me it’s about bringing joy, letting people relax and even for a tiny moment allow their imagination to just run free. To express yourself, to love yourself and to courage everyone to believe in oneself. That’s what being a professional mermaid to me is about. ❤ • • #rakkaudestatyöhön #professionalentertainers #whatitsabout #supportyourlocalartist #workinggirl
A post shared by Merenneito Riia (@mermaidriia) on Nov 1, 2017 at 9:42am PDT

Mermaids in Finland

Most mermaids, however, are still hobbyists. The Finnish mermaid movement currently consists of only a few hundred people, mostly young girls, but is growing at an exponential rate. Most are centred around Finnish Lakeland, which is 25% water. Practically every local in this area has a lake within walking distance of their house and most stay at Finnish summer cottages or ‘mökki’ right on the lakesides.

Finnish Lakeland, an ideal spot for mermaids

The Finns’ strong connection to water and the clean and clear lakes are why mermaiding is becoming increasingly popular in the country. The water quality is some of the best in the world and the clear blue waters surrounded by pine forests make for great aesthetics, which are so important to modern mermaids. The majority of mermaids are drawn to the mystical fairy tale image of the mermaid and the sublime beauty of Finnish lakes fits them to a tee and makes for some great photos to share online.

A mermaid swimming in clear water

Mermaids and social media

Social media is hugely important in mermaid culture. It allows enthusiasts to meet and keep in touch with others both locally and internationally and spread the word about the movement by posting beautiful pictures and videos. The unusual nature of the hobby means that girls often have to keep it a secret in their daily lives, but social media connects them to a ‘pod’ of like-minded people.

One example is ‘Mermaid Jade’, a 14-year-old mermaid from Joensuu in eastern Finland, who has over 800 followers on Instagram and has been featured regularly in the Finnish media. She and her ‘pod’ of around 20 mermaids share their activities on Instagram and keep in touch through Whatsapp.
3° vedessä uimista 🐳
A post shared by Merenneito Jade🧜🏻‍♀️ (@__mermaidjade__) on May 22, 2017 at 8:23am PDT
Another advantage of social media is that it allows mermaids to share costuming tips for how to do their makeup or waterproof their tails. The tails are made from monofin covered with decorated swimsuit fabric and cost several hundred euros each. They also take a lot of practice to use in the water.

A mermaid tail under construction

With a combination of crystal clear waters and a small but devoted local following, more and more mermaids could soon be travelling to Finland from all over the world to test the waters. Growing attention online and in the media also means that more young girls in Finland will likely be joining the movement.
Look at this mermaid squad! 😊❤ Missing my euro pod family. This pic was from our get together last summer in the Netherlands. @mermaid_crystal_ was our amazing host and this year we’ll have first European Merfest meet up open for everyone! Can’t wait to meet you all! (Psst you might want to follow European Merfest on fb 😉). Also big BIG happy birthday to our ever so sweet @merman_arion!! Happy birthday! 🎉🎉 #mermaidsquad #europeanmerfest
A post shared by Merenneito Riia (@mermaidriia) on Jan 8, 2018 at 8:13am PST

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.