What better way to round off a long-distance train journey than a festival. To get from the UK to Finland by land and sea means travelling through Germany, Denmark and Sweden by train, then hopping on a ferry. Along the way you can see the cathedral in Cologne, Nyhavn in Copenhagen, the Nobel Museum in Stockholm and see the tiny islands rising out of the water on the way to Turku.
The Tampere Theatre Festival in Tampere has a programme that features theatre from Finland as well as international theatre. You might see the Finnish equivalent of panto (with or without a walking vagina), street performers, and acclaimed plays. After the shows, Tampere has some great places to stay up talking about them over a cider. Klubi, Suvi in the harbour.
When not watching plays or performers, there’s plenty to see in Tampere. You can visit Moomin Land at the city art gallery, with its small collection of original Moomin drawings. It’s also possible to take a bus to one of the saunas for a Finnish Sauna experience – a swim in one of the expansive lakes lined by evergreens and a sit in the warm glow of the sauna.
There’s a sightseeing tour in Tampere too. Tampere is nicknamed Mansch – ‘the Manchester of Finland’ – due to its industrial heritage and position in the north of the country. The tour explains some of this history and also takes visitors to Pispala – a hilly spot overlooking the water, where factory workers built their own houses early in the last century.
The Tampere Theatre Festival is a great way to get a feel for Finnish culture while leaving time to explore the juxtaposition of the industrial and the natural in the city.