Skytrax named Finnair Northern Europe’s Best Airline at the World Airline Awards for the fourth straight year. The awards ceremony was held this year at the Paris Air Show. The rankings are based on an independent survey of some 18 million travelers from more than 160 countries. The oneworld alliance, of which Finnair is a member, was also named Best Alliance at the awards. Finnair is the only airline in the Nordic countries with a four-star Skytrax rating.
The passenger survey analyses customer satisfaction for the overall airline passenger experience, at both the airport and on board the aircraft: check-in to boarding, seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages, in-flight entertainment and staff service. The survey covered more than 200 airlines, from the largest international airlines to small domestic carriers, and measured standards across more than 40 areas of airline front-line product and service.
Finnair’s specialty lies in its connections between Europe and Asia via Helsinki.
The airline carries more than 8 million passengers annually and connects 13 cities in Asia with more than 60 destinations in Europe.
Helsinki, Finland – The Tall Ships Races return to Helsinki in July 2013 after a 13-year break. These annual races for large sailing ships are organized in the Baltic Sea every four years and were last held in the Finnish capital in the city’s European Cultural Capital year 2000.
Over four days from July 17th to 20th, Helsinki will host more than 100 tall ships from around the world and about 3,000 young crew members. During races, at least half of the crew members are between ages 15 and 25.
The Helsinki races join the Baltic Sea Challenge campaign to protect the Baltic Sea. The campaign is an initiative of Helsinki and the Finnish city of Turku to help save the Baltic Sea from pollution by voluntary action that goes beyond governmental and intergovernmental regulations.
The cities have defined commitments for themselves to protect the sea and challenged diverse other actors to do the same.
One Baltic Sea Challenge project organized in connection of The Tall Ships Races Helsinki 2013 involves an artwork titled Horizon by Finnish designer Hannu Kähönen, made up of thousands of steel plaques imprinted with the names of private citizens who donate 50 euros for a program to reduce nutrient loading to the Baltic Sea.
The artwork project is a joint effort by Helsinki, Turku and the John Nurminen Foundation of Finland to raise funds for the foundation’s nutrient reduction program. The artwork will be handed over to the Baltic Sea Challenge campaign during the Helsinki races.
Other themes of The Tall Ships Races Helsinki 2013 are responsible events and youth work. The races form a part of Helsinki’s Greening Events project to control the environmental impact of large public events.
To support the city’s youth, Helsinki employs 50 jobless young people for the event’s tasks, accepts others to apprenticeship training and organizes recruitment training with local businesses.
The Tall Ships Races sailing contest is organized by Sail Training International (STI), an international non-profit organization.
The races are designed to promote international friendship and training for young people in the art of sailing regardless of their nationality, skin color, religion or social background. Event organization in Helsinki is managed by the City of Helsinki.
In addition to Helsinki, the other stops of The Tall Ships Races 2013 are Aarhus (Denmark), Riga (Latvia) and Szczecin (Poland).
More about the races:
Baltic Sea Challenge campaign: http://www.balticseachallenge.net
Helsinki climbed from 25th in 2011 to 14th place in 2012 in the rankings of world congress cities in the annual survey by the Union of International Associations (UIA). The survey covers more than 1,300 cities in 167 countries. Copenhagen ranked 8th, Stockholm 10th and Oslo 25th. In the country survey, Finland ranked 16th, up from 21st in the previous year.
According to a survey carried out by the Finland Convention Bureau (FCB), feedback from both congress organizers and participants has been positive. In addition to the quality of arrangements, Helsinki was also praised for its accessibility, safety and public transport. Congress delegates stay an average of four nights and spend around 350 Euros per day. Helsinki’s peak season for congresses runs from May through September. Last year, Helsinki had its best year for congresses ever.
From an all inclusive tour of the Scottish Highlands, discovering the history of Loch Ness and a local whisky distillery, to a once in a lifetime break to see the Northern Lights including some of Scandinavia’s most scenic railways. If you are looking to book festive holidays and winter or springtime adventures by rail and take advantage of an Early Booking Discount Offer of up to £50 per person, then the new brochure from escorted tour operator, Great Rail Journeys is for you!
Great Rail Journeys’ new Winter, Christmas & Spring brochure for 2013/2014 brochure showcases 66 escorted tours across the UK and Europe as well as Canada, the USA and Morocco and features a total of eight new tours. All tours include return rail travel and flights if necessary, quality three, four and five star hotels in prime locations, many meals and carefully thought out itineraries with excursions, as well as the services of a professional Tour Manager throughout.
The eight new tours include, The Northern Lights & Lapland which experiences one of the world’s most spectacular natural phenomena. Other new tours include Christmas or Hogmanay at the Castle, The Harrogate Flower Show, Andalucia in Spring, Lille and Brussels’ Christmas Markets, Armistice Commemorations in Lille, Remembrance Day in Flanders and Highlands All-Inclusive.
this adventure far into the Arctic Circle seeks out the magical Northern Lights during a peak year in their 11-year cycle. Travelling on some of Scandinavia’s most scenic railways, this tour takes us to the spectacularly beautiful Lofoten Islands and offers several opportunities to see and photograph the Lights. This 11 day tour is priced from £2,295 per person to include scheduled flights from London to Oslo and Kiruna to London, rail and coach travel, ten nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast each day and six dinners, scenic rail journey on the Dovre Railway to Trondheim, scenic rail journey on the Nordland Railway to Bodø,
Hurtigruten cruise journey to the Lofoten Islands, Northern Lights photo safari, Viking feast, journey on the Ofoten Railway to Kiruna, guided tour of the Ice Hotel, Sami Experience, transfers in Scandinavia, flight taxes and charges and the services of a professional Tour Manager throughout. Based on 14 February, 28 February and 7 March 2014 departures.
NEW TOUR – Highland All Inclusive
On this all-inclusive break based on the banks of the River Ness in the Scottish Highlands, guests discover the history of Loch Ness and its famous monster, travel on the scenic Kyle Line from Inverness to the Kyle of Lochalsh and enjoy a wee dram on the Black Isle during a tour of the Glen Ord Distillery.
This five day tour is priced from £375 per person to include four nights hotel accommodation with breakfast, three lunches and four dinners with wine, drinks between 7pm and 10pm each evening, two nights entertainment in the hotel, excursion to Loch Ness and the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, tour and tasting at the Glen Ord Distillery, return journey on the scenic Kyle Line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and the services of a professional Tour Manager throughout. Based on 26 January 2014 departure.
This tour is a fantastic exploration of southern Spain where you will taste sherry in Jerez, tour the sights of Seville, join local festival celebrations, marvel at the Alhambra in Granada and return home via the brilliant, bustling Catalan city of Barcelona. This ten day tour includes return first class rail travel from St Pancras International in London, eight nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast each day, one night on the overnight Francisco de Goya sleeper service from Paris to Madrid, two dinners and two lunches in Andalucian restaurants, excursion to Jerez including a sherry tasting, excursion to Seville including a guided walking tour, guided tour of the Alhambra, all transfers, porterage for certain sections of the tour and the services of a professional Tour Manager. Prices from £1,998 per person based on two sharing. Based on 27 March, 3, 10 and 24 April 2014 departures.
Overall prices for the Great Rail Journeys Winter Christmas and Spring 2013/2014 brochure starts from £245pp for the ‘Bath & Bristol Christmas Markets’ tour. EARLY BOOKING OFFER – if you book one of the tours featured in the brochure by 30th April 2013, then you will save up to £50 per person with an early booking discount.
For bookings or further information call Great Rail Journeys on 01904 521 980 or visit www.GreatRail.com
Those hoping to make their next holiday a little different from the last should tie it in with one of these quirky festivals from around the world. Why not swap the beach for mobile phone throwing championships in Finland or the Mediterranean for the MangoMania Festival in Florida and make your next holiday one to remember?!
Here is a selection of the crazy and unusual festivals you could be enjoying on your holiday this year:
Fish Festival with the world’s largest frying pan, Liguria- 13 May 2013
Anyone who thinks they have cooked for a big party before will be surprised by the Camogli Fish Festival. Throughout the day freshly caught fish are cooked in the largest fish frying pan in the world at five metres wide with a seven metre handle. Fishermen abandon their day jobs for the festival and cook their fresh catch for visitors and locals. The deliciously cooked fish is then handed out for free so visitors must be sure to get a good spot! www.prolococamogli.it
Monterosso Lemon Festival, Liguria- 19 May 2013
Every year, the tiny Cinque Terre village of Monterosso dedicates a day to the locally grown lemon with the Lemon Festival. The village is covered in thousands of lemons with lemon decorated shop windows, a contest for the largest lemon and locals and visitors competing for the best lemon statues. The local produce can be tasted in stalls selling lemonade, limoncello, lemon ice cream and lemon pies, all topped off with a party in the central piazza in the evening. http://bit.ly/Yf9Lax
Wife Carrying World Championships, Finland- 5-6 July 2013
The Wife Carrying World Championships sees male competitors race each other while carrying a female team mate to whom, perhaps misleadingly, they do not have to be married. Teams have to navigate a 253 metre course, which includes obstacles such as a three-foot high log hurdle, a small pond called the “The Widow Maker” and a sand trap known as “Sand Mountain”. The aim is to complete the course in the fastest possible time and still be talking to your partner at the end. www.eukonkanto.fi
17th MangoMania Tropical Fruit Fair, Cape Coral/Pine Island- 13-14 July 2013
Tropical fruit lovers will have their fill at the MangoMania festival, a celebration of all things mango on Pine Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Festival highlights include mango cook offs, mango pie eating competitions, mango juggling competitions and the mango longest throw competition. Even local chefs get involved making incredible mango themed drinks, starters and desserts. Visitors can sample and buy other tropical fruits grown on the island including lychee, carambola, longan, papaya, and chocolate pudding fruit. www.mangomaniafl.com
World Eskimo Indian Olympics, Alaska- 17-20 July 2013
The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics makes London 2012 look very tame! The Olympics is held on the banks of the River Chena in Fairbanks and features games rooted in ancestral hunting and survival techniques employed by Native Americans, as well as dance and storytelling competitions. Games include ear weights, where lead ingots are carried by the ear lobe; Nalukataq, where contestants are tossed as high as possible in walrus skins; four man carry (by one man!) and the one hand reach, where the contestant has to balance on one hand and reach a suspended object with the other. www.weio.org
Swamp Soccer World Championship 19-20 July 2013
Who needs the Europa League when you have the Swamp Soccer World Championships? The tournament is held in Hyrynsalmi in the East of Finland with competing teams playing to take each other on in the swamp. Brilliant as a spectator sport as almost 500 teams battle it out by wading through knee deep mud with the ball invisible for the majority of the time! The ‘beautiful game’ this is not! Fun it is!
10th Torteval Scarecrow Festival, Guernsey- 3-4 August 2013
The weekend festival celebrates scarecrows of all shapes and sizes with nearly 100 scarecrows scattered through the Torteval parish of Guernsey. Visitors can stroll through the rural lanes of the parish looking at the bizarre scarecrows along the way and enjoy a traditional Morris dance and tractor demonstration afterwards. http://www.cwgsy.net/community/torteval.scarecrows/
Air Guitar World Championships 21-23 August 2013
The 18th Air Guitar World Championships will attract all budding heavy metal and rock fans. This two day extravaganza is a chance to thrash your head, shake your hair and compete against the international crowd that descends on Oulo in Northern Finland for this two day spectacular. The search for the national representatives is already on and you can follow the search through facebook – https://www.facebook.com/airguitarworldchampionships?bookmark_t=page
Mobilephone Throwing Championships- 24 August 2013
There are times when all of us want to throw our phone down in anger and frustration – but in Finland you can do this and possibly win a prize too! In August 2013 this hugely popular tournament, will return to Savonlinna for the 24th time (also known for its opera!). This summer will see last year’s winner Finn Ere Karjalainen, defend his new world record of an a amazing 101.46 m!
World Berry Picking Championship 7 September
If you think this sounds like the easy, sedate option compared to the rest of the festivals mentioned you need to remember you have to carry the berries! Last year’s winner hauled an impressive 27,98 kilograms of lingonberries in an hour! Every year in the village of Suomussalmi in the east of Finland contestants gather at the Ämmänsaari marketplace, where the competition starts and the picker who gathers the most lingonberries (found in Arctic regions only) within one hour wins a cash prize.
No dedicated website but read more on: http://events.frommers.com/sisp/index.htm?fx=event&event_id=218397#ixzz2PyxKrDMb
Pesto e Dintorni festival, Liguria- 6-7 October 2013
One for pesto lovers- the annual festival celebrates the popular sauce which originated in Liguria. The focus is on the ‘magnificent seven’, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and parmesan cheese – the traditional ingredients used to create this regional specialty. Visitors can sample different types of pesto, as well as learn more about the local produce and traditional cooking techniques. For more details: http://joobili.com/pesto_e_dintorni_lavagna_12797/
American Sandsculpting Championships, Fort Myers Beach- 22 November- 1 December 2013
The making of enormous and highly impressive sandsculptures can be watched at the annual Sandsculpting Championships on Fort Myers Beach. Each year about 50,000 visitors watch experts from all over the world turn sand into spectacular art works using what is thought to be the world’s best sculpting sand, due to its high shell content. Inspired visitors can join in the creativity with the amateur competition. http://www.fmbsandsculpting.com/
For more information or images of these festivals please contact Jules Ugo or Amelia Astley Birtwistle at Lotus UK on firstname.lastname@example.org / 0207 953 7470.
The Finnish Nature Center Haltia will opens on May 31 in the Nuuksio National Park, 20 miles from Helsinki’s city center. The center takes its inspiration from Finnish myth. “Nature is a myth in Finland,” says Finnish architect and professor Rainer Mahlamäki, the head designer of the Finnish Nature Center Haltia. “Nature has powerfully inspired Finnish art and architecture, and Haltia follows that tradition.”
Specifically, Mahlamäki’s inspiration to the design came from the Finnish national epic Kalevala.According to Kalevala, the earth was created from an egg of a mythological Goldeneye duck. The building resembles a duck hatching an egg, and a giant duck’s egg occupies the center of the main exhibition hall. The egg houses a video art installation by Finnish artist Osmo Rauhala, who gives another interpretation of the creation of the earth by birds, now accomplished by swans by a game of chess.
The building’s sustainable architecture makes maximum use of wood in the exterior, interior and structural elements. It utilizes solar and geothermal energy for heating and cooling, achieving 75-percent self-sufficiency in heating energy and 100-percent self-sufficiency in cooling energy. Energy needs are reduced by a roundish building shape and a green roof. Building technologies include self-adjusting air conditioning and lighting.
Haltia’s mission is to teach visitors about Finnish nature from southern Finland’s archipelago to the fell tops of Lapland in the far north. The main exhibition is composed of nature films, photographs, and an animated panorama landscape complete with sound. The exhibits present all 37 national parks of Finland. Special exhibits allow visitors to wander in nocturnal Finnish wilderness, to step into a wilderness hut and to crawl into a hibernating bear’s den. The Green Belt exhibition presents the nature reserves and other green space in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Thematic temporary exhibitions offer new perspectives to nature and culture.
Compagnie du Ponant, a French-flagged cruise line, will operate a cruise from Greenland to Quebec aimed at maximizing views of the Northern Lights. The 15-day cruise on Le Boreal will take place during what is believed to be the height of the 11-year solar cycle. The cruise is priced from $8,922 per person, double occupancy, and includes flights.
The 15-day voyage departs Sept. 5 from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and will explore the rocky islands and fjords amid the steep mountains of Nunavut, the northernmost territory in Canada. Other highlights include a visit to Sisimiut, Greenland; whale watching in the Baffin Sea and Saint Lawrence Seaway; the Inuit land of Nunavut, a prime Northern Lights viewing location; Akpatok Island, home to white bears; and Percé with its famous rock and Northern Gannets.
Nothing has so energised our passion for two wheels as much as the triumph of cycling stars Sir Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins, who astounded us all in the Olympics and Tour de France. Now, however, we can take that passion to a whole new level by combining a love of pedal power with a love of travel – all thanks to a brand new adventure: Island Hopping by Bike in the Turku Archipelago.
The archipelago are one of Finland’s most stunning natural phenomena, with no less than 20,000 islands stretching like giant stepping stones out into the sea from the south-west coastline. This new cycling tour flits from island to island, taking full advantage of excellent local ferries that sail back and forth almost constantly.
Hosted by Guild Travel, Finland’s leading travel specialist, the adventure begins with a flight to Helsinki and the welcome comforts of a three-star hotel right in the heart of this beautiful city: the perfect place to begin your sightseeing by bike next morning, all with the help of an English-speaking guide.
Next it’s off by train to Turku, Finland’s oldest city and former capital, where you can sample local and international cuisine in the restaurants around your three-star hotel.
On day three you continue by bike to nearby Naantali and soon after the island-hopping begins in earnest, first with a ride across the bridge to Merimasku followed by a leg-resting and relaxing 45-minute ferry journey.
Refreshed by an overnight stay with sumptuous dinner in a converted farmhouse, begin your main island-hopping day with seven ferry journeys to the heart of the archipelago – the tiny, remote island of Iniö then Houtskari, which boasts some of the region’s most challenging routes. After well-earned rests on the ferry rides to Korpoo, then Nauvo, it’s time for some serious R ‘n’ R in an old manor house located amidst beautiful natural scenery. Before dinner, why not enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea or indulge yourself with an evening sauna?
Next morning the ferry takes you north back to the mainland where you continue by bike via Rymättylä to Naantali, an idyllic seaside village with cobbled streets and traditional wooden houses set around a bustling harbour – and, of course, a lovely spa hotel for you to relax in before heading next day by bike to Turku and a one-hour train to Karjaa. From here it’s on to Fiskars, a former iron works village, then Tammisaari, a quaint seaside town of well-preserved, centuries-old wooden houses.
Having enjoyed an overnight stay in a hotel close to the sea you can ride out to the majestic ruins of Raaseborg castle then on to Mustio and a fitting finale: a last night of the very best Finnish hospitality in a manor house with extensive gardens and world-class restaurant.
Remember, throughout your trip, you won’t have to carry extra provisions or cash in your panniers; included in your dream holiday are return flights, airport transfers, seven nights accommodation with breakfast, three three-course dinners, your Helsinki tour, train and ferry tickets and luggage transportation – not forgetting, of course, a bicycle and helmet and detailed route notes and maps. Prices start from £994 per person based on twin occupancy. For more information on this wonderful new trip visit www.guildtravel.com
Finnair is commemorating its 90th year in 2013 in several different ways. Every month this year Finnair will be posting a video to their YoutubeChannel. Marimekko, a famous Finnish design house, will participate in a collaboration with the carrier. For the next three years, all Finnair aircrafts will feature Marimekko textiles and tableware. Passengers will be able to purchase from a selection of Marimekko items from their Finnair collection, both through in-flight sales and the Finnair PlusShop.
Finnair is also working with Finnish Chefs Pekka Terava and Tomi Bjorck, to elevate their long-haul menus. Michelin-starred Terava specializes in Nordic cuisine, while Bjorck will bring his Asian-influence to the menu.
In June Finnair will add direct flights from Helsinki to Xian and Hanoi, as well as Tel Aviv, Antalya and Palma. Finnair innovation also allows for passengers to check-in to their flights with Facebook by linking their profiles with the airline seating maps. In March, they began a two-month trial of Windows 8-powered HP ElitePad 900 tablets on select aircrafts, a new chapter in wireless in-flight entertainment.
Finland, renowned as a land full of interesting peculiarities, is staging an array of festivals and events across 2013 that really reflect the country’s distinctive cultural spirit.
As in most must-visit destinations, numerous annual music, food and film festivals are scheduled to celebrate Finnish talent around the country this year, but it’s the more uncommon events that make a trip to Finland a truly memorable experience.
Here’s a round-up of some of the most unusual forthcoming events taking place around the country:
Moomin Winter Magic 16 – 24 February
Moomin World is closed during the cold winter months with the exception of February half-term when the theme park opens its doors for a special winter-themed week of fairy-tale fun. Winter Magic sees the Moomin family waking from their winter slumber and hosting a full programme of events for the whole family, from Tooticky’s Story at the Pancake factory to Moomin Family Winter Games at the Moominhouse. There’s also a skating rink and sledding hill that will provide hours of Finnish winter fun.
Moomin World is in Naantali, 180km from Helsinki and connected by a regular bus service. For more information visit: www.muumimaailma.fi/en
Finland Ice Marathon 20 – 23 February
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Finland’s ice skating marathon, held every year on the frozen Lake Kallavesi in Kuopio, eastern Finland. Thousands of skaters of all ages and abilities will take over the ice across three days of events, which include recreational and competitive races, moonlit skating, and a Mini-Marathon for children. Away from the ice, other wintery events are organised around the lake during the festival, so those that don’t want to get their skates on can still enjoy the breathtaking scenery and join in the celebrations of the Finnish sport.
Finnair and SAS fly to Kuopio from Helsinki. Some hotels in Kuopio offer special rates for ice skaters over the dates of the festival. For more information and to register, visit www.pohjois-savonliikunta.fi/finland-ice-marathon
Helsinki Burlesque Festival 1 – 2 March
Despite February being Finland’s coldest month, when temperatures rarely go above freezing, international burlesque artists flock to the capital to strip off and perform to a packed crowd at Helsinki’s Gloria Cultural Arena. Burlescopolis is the theme for the sixth annual Helsinki Burlesque Festival, which will present a wide variety of traditional and contemporary burlesque performances in two evening shows. Aspiring burlesque dancers can attend workshops held around the city during the festival, while drawing classes and other related exhibitions are on offer for those who prefer to stay wrapped up.
For more information, visit www.helsinkiburlesque.com
Finnair flies direct to Helsinki from Heathrow (return fares start from £191) and Manchester (return fares start from £22). Fares include all taxes and fees. www.finnair.com
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