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Meet our partner Saimaa-ilmiö and the whole region Savonlinna ❤

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

1. As a Savonlinna, you are bidding for the whole region. Can you tell us what your region looks like and what people can see there?

Savonlinna is an enchanting little town in the middle of Lake Saimaa. The provinces of eastern Finland and their central cities have nominated the enchanting city of Savonlinna as their candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2026. In the middle of everything is our clear blue Lake Saimaa. It is surrounded by woods, little towns and people (all together 700 000) who know how to enjoy the life near nature.

Did you know that Savonlinna features a more extensive shoreline than Spain - total over 6,000 km and lives there one of the world’s rarest seal species, the Saimaa Ringed Seal?

2. What is Saimaa Phenomenon and how can you describe it to us? :)

In Eastern Finland we wanted to do this bid together - none of us alone would have been able to do it, but together we found new strength! We can proudly say that culture and art will be our new force for change in the future, no matter what will happen with this competition. In Saimaa Phenomenom we think that we are droplets that set-in motion the power of change culture. When we hit the surface of the water together, we cause a surge that resonates throughout the world.

3. Your artistic content is divided into 3 parts: The power of water, Connecting Bridges and Eastern Joy. Can you explain to us really shortly what they are about and why this topics are so important for your region?

Combining these three themes opens the way to revealing the secrets of eastern culture. Along with the three main themes, “Everyday Saimaa” is a program designed to illustrate how small-scale art experiences, tiny adventures, and significant encounters, all go hand-in-hand to demonstrate the uniqueness of living on the shores of Saimaa and experiencing Saimaa culture in an upfront and personal way.

4. You are almost at the end of your writing process and you suppose to finish your Bid-Book really soon. When should it be and what are your next steps?

We have only few weeks left to finish our bid book. In the end of April we will be ready to hand out our book – so we are living exciting times! After that we really want to open up our book and all the great things there to our people and also focus more to communicate with our European friends. In May we will have guests from the ECoC panel visiting us. In the beginning of June we will know the answer if we will win the title in the year 2026. Let’s keep fingers crossed!

5. Can you shortly describe your team and how you work? Did covid changed the way how your team communicate together?

In our team there are 10 persons; 5 of them are regional coordinators so that we have been really able to participate and found the best pieces from our area. Then we have of course our leader, bid book writer, communication manager, assistant and 2 researchers. It is funny that during this pandemia time we have been able to seen each other only few times face to face – but still, we are a strong team, we have been in close contact all this time – thank you digital channels!

6. On your website, you write that Culture is Saimaa Phenomenons catalyst for change. What culture look like in your region normally through the year? And what is really interesting in region of Savonlinna, that you would recommend to us to see?

Savonlinna presents itself as a cultural city in its finest form. Its image is built on a long history, filled with exceptionally beautiful nature and equally exquisite musical tones. The phenomenal cultural life of Savonlinna adheres to the four seasons of the year. A summer in Savonlinna is steeped in steamships sounding their whistles, the ripple of conversation in the busy market, and the glimmering water of Lake Saimaa surrounding the city. In winter Lake Saimaa is covered by a snowy layer of ice and silent darkness descends upon the city, casting a dramatic but peaceful presence. Despite the wintry scene, the culture venues of the city are teeming with life: orchestras are playing, and theatrical performances are staged, while libraries provide solitude and quiet respite. People revel in special activities enabled by the freezing cold; a particular tour skating route is established on the ice-covered lake; ice hockey is played, and people ski through the forest. The best-known place in the Savonlinna is our old castle and everyday event in the city the Savonlinna Opera Festival. And this is only Savonlinna, you can only imagine what a huge possibilities we have as a whole region 😊

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