Finns are well known for their love of outdoor pursuits, though sleeping outdoors is not that common. For one night in August, however, tens of thousands of Finns find use for their sleeping bags, hammocks and tents.
This year’s Sleep Outdoors event takes place on Saturday, 29 August. Organized for the fifth time by the Outdoor Association of Finland, it invites all of Finland to sleep outdoors. Last year the invitation was taken up by more than 130,000 sleepers.
’The Outdoor Association of Finland hopes that each and every one can find an outdoor recreation that suits them,’ says Saija Suominen, the Association’s Event Specialist. ’The Sleep Outdoors campaign makes it easier for people to test a new way of enjoying natural environments.’
Another idea linked to the event is that you need not travel far to experience something new. The simplest way is to spend the night in your own back yard. Not that you need to go far to find nature, either – it has been calculated that on average, a Finn lives just 700 metres away from a neighbouring forest.
Campfires and sing-alongs at Forest Hotels
The idea for the Sleep Outdoors event comes from Norway, where a similar event is arranged by the sister organization of the Outdoor Association of Finland.
During the night, the Outdoor Association and its member associations arrange a variety of programme. At Forest Hotels set up in Kankaanpää, Lahti and Savonlinna you can reserve a tent or a hammock free of charge. They also provide an opportunity to try out a range of recreations, such as canoeing or mountain biking. Other events include sing-alongs by a campfire and mystery orienteering.
During the Covid-19 pandemic Finns have shown great enthusiasm for hiking in their own country. Suominen expects that the Sleep Outdoors event will also attract many.
’It will be easy to maintain safe distances in the Forest Hotels, or you can also respond to the invitation by spending the night with your family in your own garden.’
In addition to the three big Forest Hotels, dozens of Sleep Outdoors events will be arranged throughout Finland. Besides the member organisations of the Outdoor Association of Finland, anyone can organize an event. The main thing is that participants are not charged for overnighting. In Helsinki, for example, the Rastila Camping offers free tent pitches during the event.
World’s first flag day for nature
The last Saturday in August is also Finnish Nature Day. This. too. is an invitation for people to come out into the open and celebrate with a happy face.
Flags will also be flown on Finnish Nature Day. In 2017, Finland became the first country in the world to issue an official recommendation to fly flags in honour of its natural environments.
In Ähtäri, Western Finland, local associations and businesses are organising events throughout the day to celebrate Finnish Nature Day, and the night will also be spent outdoors.
The Sauna Village in Jämsä, Central Finland, provides an opportunity to learn about the Finnish sauna traditions and to experience sauna bathing at night. In Miehikkälä in the south-east, sleepers will take over the grounds of the Salpa Line Museum, and in Janakkala, Southern Finland, there will be an all-night fair.
’There are dozens of local events listed on our web pages, and even more on Facebook,’ Suominen reveals.
’Those who never slept outdoors before are more than welcome to try it now. The organisers are happy to help you with tips, and in many places you’ll also be able to borrow a tent or hammock.’