This year, Turku celebrates the 10th anniversary of being the European Capital of Culture. Due to the coronavirus situation, it has not been possible to start the events of the anniversary year yet, but the city wants to bring joy to its residents with little surprises to discover in the streetscape. In addition, Turku supports its cultural operators with different types of subsidies during the anniversary year.

Joy and other things to discover in the city’s parks

Birdhouses branded with the logo of the anniversary year are currently being hung in the parks and green spaces of the city for birds who have come to visit the city of culture.

“As before, some of the 50 anniversary birdhouses are intended for common small birds, such as tits and pied flycatchers. For the first time, one third of the new birdhouses have now been reserved for starlings, which have particularly suffered for a lack of accommodations in Turku,” says Petri Uggeldahl, Environmental Inspector of the city. 

Uggeldahl also acted as the birdhouse organiser during the year as European Capital of Culture. In 2011, a bit over 80 birdhouses were hung in parks, and a few years later, 35 birdhouses were added to the number.

“Roughly one hundred of these cultural birdhouses are still in usable condition for nesting. Their housing safety has been monitored regularly, and in addition to the annual cleaning, the birdhouses have been repaired and roof renovations have been carried out, if necessary,” Uggeldahl says.

Information on nesting in the birdhouses of the year as European Capital of Culture and the changes in the species of birds living in the houses has been gathered throughout the whole ten-year period. Mikko Laine from, who built the birdhouses and has followed the lives of their residents, says that the need for birdhouses has been real:

“Starting from the year as European Capital of Culture, the average nesting percentage has been 81%. This means that more than eight of every ten houses have been inhabited every year. Even based on a cautious estimate, this means that the birdhouses have seen thousands of happy additions to winged families since they were hung in place.”

In addition to the birdhouses, the anniversary year of culture will be visible on the streets and in the parks of the city throughout the year.

“The Urban Environment Division is happy to join in realising the anniversary year. In addition to the birdhouses, we take the anniversary year into account in the planting, and we will offer sunflower seeds in the late spring to delight the residents. In the autumn, we will hold an event for volunteers to plant 10,000 flower bulbs together with the city residents,” Infrastructure Maintenance Manager Mari Helin rejoices.


When the time of darkness returns in the autumn, the whole city of culture will shine brightly with light art installations and seasonal lighting. Turku already lit up the city in 2020 more than in a long time, and next autumn, more light installations will be added in different parts of the city in honour of the anniversary year. The light will brighten up the long dark season, and it will tempt people to spend time outdoors and look at their environment with new eyes. More information about the lighting projects will be published in the autumn. 

Support for the cultural operators in Turku

The ongoing anniversary year is one milestone on the way to Turku’s 800th anniversary in 2029. The goal is to strengthen the attraction of the city with culture, promote local activities and support the cultural operators of the city. The main theme of the year as European Capital of Culture was “culture does good”. Supporting and creating cultural well-being is also a significant part of the programme of the anniversary year. The cultural well-being approach that started in Turku has continued and developed since 2011, and in recent years it has become widely established in different parts of Finland.

An idea competition for activities to promote cultural well-being is in progress until 6 April, and the art competition for professionals in visual fields will be ongoing until 12 April. In addition, the Turku 2029 foundation is currently preparing for applications for grants.

“In the round for applications of the Turku 2029 foundation, the aim is to support the city’s freelance artists in the challenging job situation in particular. Freelance artists are an essential part of the cultural diversity of the city, and we want to invite them to join in implementing the anniversary year,” says Director of the Recreation Division Minna Sartes

Event preparations are made following the restrictions

The coronavirus situation may cause significant changes in the events of the anniversary year. The preparations for the major events of the summer are underway, and changes in the situation are being monitored.

Turku is intended to host the Tall Ships Races sailing event in early July 2021. If it is realised, the Tall Ships Races will be the major event of the anniversary year. The anniversary year will also be visible in the content of all divisions of the city. Other parties are also planning several major events, such as the Paavo Nurmi Games, Ruisrock and other summer festivals and events promoting food culture.