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 Tuesday, 20 August 2019
Finns Lead the World in Wacky Events PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 16 April 2007

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Only the Finns can put on such unique and somewhat odd events as the sauna world Champi¬onships, the Mobile Throwing world Championships, the Kutemajärvi sex Festival, the Aqua jog¬ging world Championships, the swamp soccer world Championships, the world Championships in Haymowing and the Finnish Championships in “Rock Music Football”.

One of the most famous events is the annual wife Carrying world Championships, which has been ongoing since 1992. If you’re single, don’t worry, you might find Mr. or Miss Right at Haku Päällää, the eighth annual matchmaking festival in Kurikka. On the romantic side there is also the Visuvesi Kissing Competition.
For a list of all those crazy Finnish events, please visit

So you were wondering where to go for the World Sauna Championships ? You need look no further: Finland stages this annual event and, naturally, the Finns excel. Fancy taking a look at the World Cell Phone Throwing Championships ? Again, head for Finland in late summer. Swamp football, air guitar playing, table tapping, wife-carrying… you name it, if it’s silly, the Finns have devised a contest for it.

About 40 such events are held in total, ranging from the more traditional – hay mowing , for instance, and mölkky , a skittles game – to the more contemporary, such as topless winter jogging . The list gets longer every year. Here’s a summary of some of the weird and wonderful events taking place in Finland in 2007:

Wife-carrying: Staged at Sonkajärvi in eastern Finland since 1992, this ‘discipline’ dates back to the 19th century, if local legend is to be believed. Local villain Herkko Ronkainen used to swing his favourite local girl on his shoulders, an act that will be duplicated by couples competing in the World Championships on July 7 this year.

Mobile-phone throwing: In the homeland of Nokia, what could be more Finnish than this one? The next World Championships will be held on August 25, 2007 at Riihisaari in Savonlinna, eastern Finland. The organizer promises to provide “official WC mobile phones... During the throw the competitor must stay within the throwing area. The phone must land within the marked throwing sector.” Contestants may be relieved to learn that “there will be no doping tests. However the jury can rule out the contestant if his/her mental or physical preparedness is not adequate for full a performance.”

Twangy Guitar Festival: The Taarasti art centre in Nastola near Lahti is the venue on June 30 this year for the annual celebration of that peculiarly Finnish style of guitar playing, a kind of melancholy country sound often preferred at lakeside summer dances. The Regents, The Lunaters, Rami Hammar & The Riders, and the Beatfools top the bill in 2007 at what is the tenth annual event of its kind.

Air guitar playing: What is it about Finns and guitars? Or in this case, Finns who wish they had guitars? Masters of the phantom instrument gather each year at the Club Teatria in Oulu in northern Finland, with the 2007 event, the 12th in the series, scheduled for September 5-7. Would-be Jimi Hendrixes and aspiring Brian Mays congregate to trade licks and strut their stuff, with ‘training camps’, lectures and demonstrations of the ‘sport’, as well as the competition itself. Traditional Finnish dominance has been challenged recently: the 2006 winner hailed from Japan, with runners-up from Australia and Germany.

Sauna bathing contest : Some would say that sitting naked in a hot chamber is eccentric enough, but Finns have taken their national pastime a step further with an endurance test to determine the ‘World Champion’ at sauna bathing. The 9th Sauna World Championships will be held at Heinola on August 3-4, 2007. As many as 80 participants from 16 countries as varied as Kazakhstan and South Korea attend this increasingly popular competition. “Competitors have to sit in the sauna with buttocks and thighs on the seat,” say the rules. “Posture must be erect; elbows must stay on the knees and arms have to be in an upright position. The competitor will have to leave the sauna without outside help, otherwise the he/she will be disqualified.” Call the Heinola tourist office for more information on +358 0(3) 849 3615.

Winter swimming: Ellivuori in Vammala, southern Finland, was this year’s venue in February for the annual Winter Swimming Finnish Championships. Under 20s to over 60s can compete on the 25 metre course chopped out of the frozen lake, but the breaststroke is the only style permitted. The venue is also perfectly suited to another Finnish winter pursuit, ice hole fishing . Call Ellivuori for details about future events +358 (0)3 519 21.

Swamp football: A big patch of very muddy ground, two teams and a football are the basic requirements for this one, and 2007 sees the tenth anniversary of the World Championships at Hyrynsalmi in north-eastern Finland on July 12-15. There’s no offside rule and if you lose your boots in the mud – well, tough, you can’t pause to change or replace them. Call +358 (0)8 748500 for information about the latter event.

Snowshoe football: The first World Cup in Snowshoe Football was held in Hamina in south-eastern Finland in March 2007, and hailed as a great success, so future events are likely.

Cattle calling : Based on the traditional way of summoning a cow using its name and a colloquial speech style, the annual Finnish Cattle Calling Championships are held at Alapitkä in eastern Finland. As in the Finnish Dialect Speaking Championships, on July 1 at Rauhalahti in Kuopio, eastern Finland, ignorance of the Finnish language will not stop you enjoying the general festive air of the event. Call +358-(0)17 182 584 for information about the latter event.

Kutemajärvi Sex Festival: Nothing peculiarly Finnish about this ‘crazy pursuit’, perhaps. Last year the theme for the late-June Sex Festival was “Sex, Safety & Rock´n Roll”. The Festival takes place in the beautiful Kangasniemi municipality and the hottest event of the summer event “is spiced with an erotic and entertaining show”. A similar ‘audience’ is attracted to the annual Matchmaking Festival in Kurikka, western Finland, in June:

Other unusual events and pursuits in Finland include:

  • Mosquito swatting (Lapland is prime country)
  • Milking stool throwing (farms up and down Finland)
  • Table drumming (bars and restaurants)
  • Sitting on an ant’s nest (in any forest you choose)
  • Team berry picking (Suomussalmi, eastern Finland)
Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 April 2007 )
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