The Heavy Metal course at the University of Helsinki

It is said about Finland that it is the country that has the most Heavy Metal bands per capita in the world.

It’s a fact that I still have to check, as well as find out more about which other countries are at the top of the hypothetical ranking for a future post.

But in the meantime there is a development in this part of Finnish culture that I couldn’t stop myself from sharing with you: Heavy Metal has become a university subject in Helsinki.

Heavy Metal is now a university subject at the University of Helsinki Click To Tweet

Heavy Metal in Finland

The post about Heavy Metal in Finland that aroused the most interest in the blog was about priest who gave heavy metal masses in Helsinki. And it wasn’t baseless: this priest revitalized an activity – going to mass – which is increasingly seen just for people of certain age. But he was able to draw in a lot of curious people and religious people who just didn’t like to go to mass.

Heavy Metal church service in Helsinki
See the heavy band in the background. Source (CC: by-sa-nc)

We also did a while back a post on the 10 best Finnish bands, and many of them turned out to be some kind of Metal bands. This was another indicator of how important this musical genre is for Finland. Other places we can turn to to confirm that the country loves metal are the Tuska Festival (a Metal-only music festival in Finland) and the Tavastia Klubi: a Metal club that is one of the most revered in Helsinki.

The Heavy metal course at the University of Helsinki

The University of Helsinki is Finland’s most famous and the best in terms of international university rankings.

The main building of the university, in the center of Helsinki. Source (CC: by-sa).

And the university has decided to innovate in its summer courses (yes, this course has already finished, but since it is a successful one it repeats every year) and has created a 3-week course titled “Heavy Metal and Hard Rock: Mu­sic, His­tory, Society and Culture” (originally, when it was created some years ago, it went by the title of “Heavy Metal Music in Contemporary History and Society“).

This is the trailer of the course, as narrated by its teacher, the doctoral candidate Paolo Ribaldini:

The content of the classes of the Heavy Metal course

As taken from its website:

The exploration of the development of the popular music style of Heavy Metal. The primary focus will be on the musical elements of the genre, then on its historical features and its relation to contemporary Western society. A number of lectures will be devoted to Heavy Metal in Finland, where this genre is particularly successful and characterizes musical culture more than in other European or non-European countries

University of Helsinki

The course includes, including homework and final thesis, 135h of work for the student (5 ETCS credits). It costs, if I’m reading it correctly, 50€ for the students of the University of Helsinki (for students of Grade or Doctorate 940€, and for professionals 1400€).

In short, this is the summary and objectives of the course:

The students will appreciate the importance of heavy metal music in Western musical culture, its historical development and the characteristics of the subculture related to the music. This subculture is particularly strong in Finland, and Finnish HM is recognised worldwide as a key manifestation of this musical style. The students will also achieve competences in music theory, sociology of music, music semiotics and cultural studies. Furthermore, the course gives them a solid basis to critically understand popular music genres other than Heavy Metal.

University of Helsinki
A concert in Helsinki.

And how will the students get to do all this? With classes, multimedia material such as songs, films and documentaries; workshops and seminars; and group discussion. They will even go one or two times to Heavy Metal concerts in Helsinki all together, learning with the local musical scene.

Pretty cool, right? Let’s end the post with another video from Paolo Ribaldini, the course’s teacher, playing with his band.

Ribaldini is also a heavy metal musician and vocalist himself. He is a doctoral candidate and his research focuses on this musical genre, specifically on sociological, philosophical aspects, and the development of music.

After reading about it, would you attend this course on Heavy Metal? Which is your favorite band of this genre?


Letters from Santa Claus: he starts charging in Finland

Some time ago we wrote a post about how to send letters to Santa Claus and his address in the Finnish Lapland. And we commented that one of the great things about that system was that Santa himself responded to you and it was free. Unfortunately, Santa Claus has begun to charge for writing back.
Lapland: the place where Santa Claus lives

Santa Claus and Finland

As we all know, Finland is Santa’s land.

There they call it “Joulupukki”, which literally means “Christmas goat”, and comes from an ancient tradition.

The Finns are very fond of this man and in Lapland, where he lives, they make Christmas a big thing. They take it seriously.

The Santa Claus village in Lapland
Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Source (CC: by-sa)

In Lapland we can see for example three Santa Claus attractions, including the best known: the Santa Claus village. In the village you can visit the Arctic Circle line, the post office, and the good guy in person, who is available to chat for a while and have a picture taken for a fistful of Euros.

Santa starts charging for writing to you.

But the photo once you were there was the only thing the nice guy charged you. Until now.

Santa Claus with kids
Santa, chatting with some small visitors. Source (CC: by-sa)

A commentator of the post on the letters warned us: from 2019 it is no longer free to receive a letter from Santa Claus, but the price will be 8.90€.

Diligently we began to find out the details, and they are as follows. As you can read on the website of Posti (the Finnish Postal service), it seems the person who tipped us off was correct. The new payment card can be ordered in any of the 13 languages you speak (English included, of course) and will be personalized, addressing the recipient (the lucky boy or girl) by name. At least, the Posti guarantees that it will arrive before Christmas – according to its website.

Finland: Santa Claus starts charging money for replying to his letters Click To Tweet

It is a pity for all of those who have written to him up to now. Regardless of financial status, anyone would receive a letter response from Santa Claus in their home. At least the service has not closed completely, but it is definitely a pity that it has changed in this way.

And you, did you send a letter to his address in Lapland and he replied? What do you think of this change of policy?


Flying a drone in Finland – what to know

Private drones (the ones people have to take pictures and play) are already a very common element in the backpack of a tourist or traveler, and the truth is that the photos and videos they make are extremely cool. Because of that, I began investigating the topic. So here is all the information you need if you want to fly a drone in Finland.

But first, the video with a drone that inspired this post. @enriquemt upload travel photos often, and they are always pretty cool. Follow him too if you want! (and you can follow the best instagrammers of Finland too)

Flying a drone in Finland

What are the rules for piloting a drone in Finland? That’s the question we’re going to answer here.

In general, flying a drone in Finland is allowed almost everywhere. There are even several clubs and areas designated for this hobby all over the country’s geography.

But of course there are also areas where flying is forbidden. These zones include nuclear power plants, oil refineries and areas used by the government. It is also forbidden to fly them within 1 km of an airport, and if you want to do so you have to ask permission from a control tower (if you are interested, these are the steps). Between 1 and 3 km from an airport a drone can be flown just at the height of the objects you fly over, but not higher.

In general, when go to Finland to fly your drone and to do it well, you should download the Droneinfo app (for Android and iOS), which is also in English so there is no excuse not to follow the rules. The App is developed by the Finnish Transport Security Agency, so it is always up to date.

Safe areas for Flying a drone in Finland
Screenshot from the Droneinfo app.

Things to know to fly your drone in Finland

Here is a list of things to know:

  • Flying over inhabited areas is permitted if the drone weighs less than 3 kg.
  • You don’t need permission from the people you record if you do it in a public place like a market.
  • Do not spy or post photos of people in their private environment.
  • Flying a drone over a crowd is not allowed. The minimum safety distance is 50 m.
  • The maximum flight altitude is 150 meters.
  • You must put your name and contact information on your drone.
  • Buying a third party damage insurance policy is recommended.
A drone in air. Source (CC: by-nd)

Flying with drones in Helsinki

We focus a bit on Helsinki, the capital of Finland, as it’s the place most people visit when they go to Finland, and the place where you’ll probably fly a drone then.

In the capital there are several areas where it is totally forbidden to fly your drone, and unfortunately one of them is the center-center of the city: the place where is for example the white cathedral of Helsinki.

For the rest, follow the recommendations of this post and its sources.

Areas for not flying a drone in Finland
Visual guide of to know where not to fly your drone in Helsinki.

Flying your drone in Lapland

Extreme cold can make drones work differently than they do at “normal” temperatures… as well as affect your fingers if you operate it without gloves or protection (here are some tips on how to dress for the extreme cold of Lapland).

In addition to following the recommendations of this post (and visit the official sources we linked in case anything has changed), you must consider how to fly a drone in cold temperatures.
Lapland is at least this snowy for half a year.

If the day is wet as well as cold, this can accelerate the freezing of some parts of the drone such as the propellers or rotors. Sensors may freeze or give readings that are not correct. Fog or if it starts to snow are two other things to keep in mind, as they can limit visibility and snow can accumulate or interfere in some parts of the drone.

Equally, as we commented in the post of tips for photographing the aurora borealis, the cold also makes the batteries last less, so keep this in mind when flying a drone in Lapland. If you have extra batteries, be sure to carry them and keep them under your coat until you use them.

And you, have you flown a drone in Finland? Can you show us a photo or video you made?


Top 7 Instagrammers in Finland

Instagram has given us great moments. For me, it is a great way to see life at this moment in different parts of Finland. Through it I have made awesome connections, like the day I met the person who included us as the only recommended blog in the Lonely Planet of Finland (ES), and many more. So I thought: why not showing you who are the best Instagram accounts in Finland?

How to find the best instagrammers in Finland

In this post we follow the methodology that led us to conclude which were the top 10 Finnish bands. In this way, we use popularity as a measure of “better” (and we let you decide if they are or not: tell us in the comments).

On that occasion, to build the top-10, we were guided by number of Google search results to find out which bands were most talked about. HIM dominated.

Let’s face it: it is a very instagrammable photo of our previous trip.

This time we will be guided by other tools, since Google is not a good way to search for instagrammers from Finland (based and creating content about the country). The tools we found – if you know a better one, tell us in the comments – are myus and influence. Here they come.

Finland’s best Instagram accounts

#0: Big in Finland‘s instagram account

Ok, it is possible that our one isn’t the best, but now that we have reached 1000 followers (we started late the account), it seemed a good time to present it on the blog. Follow (if you want) Big in Finland on Instagram if you haven’t yet!

Photos of travel in Finland and around the world await you there.

And now, for the really followed and popular ones, here comes the top-7. One note: the accounts are of people, not institutions like the country’s tourism office.

1.- Marianna Mäkela (181K followers)

A Helsinki fashion blogger is the number 1 on the list. She shows us a new look every day in instagram, and her fans are definitely responding. A few days ago, for example, she showed us these Balenciagas (hey, I may not be a fashion blogger, but it seems to me that after June almost no one wears this style any more!).

2.- Virpi Mikkonen (165K followers)

Virpi (we do not know what Finnish city she is from, since it is not shown on her Instagram account) has achieved her impressive number of followers with eye-catching photos of healthy food, most of them with a recipe included. Here is a tasty example

3.- Mikael Sandberg (161K followers)

This Finnish man from Espoo is mostly known for his YouTube channel. But definitely one can say his Instagram does not lag behind in terms of popularity and large number of followers. In this account he shows photos of his different activities and trips (while leaving the Vlogs for YouTube).

4.- Natali Karppinen (117K followers)

Natali is a Finnish photographer from (and based in) the capital of Finland, Helsinki. She defines herself as a conceptual art photographer, and that is what she shows us on her website. However, her Instagram is more focused on portraits like this.

5.- Sandra Hagelstam (89.7K followers)

This Finnish actress uses her Instagram account to show us fashion and trips in which she participates, mostly. And beauty products and tips, as the following (funny) picture shows us.

6.- Piia Tuuli (82.2K followers)

Piia is a Finnish interior photographer. In her Instagram account she shows us different Finnish houses from inside, and also some lifestyle photos. For example, this is a photo of a great looking Finnish house.

7.- Sofia Marof (76.1K followers)

This young (and so young!) Finnish girl from Tampere is perhaps the youngest fashion blogger in Finland at 6 years old. Or, at least if she’s not the youngest, she is the one with the best age/ followers ratio in the country. Her account is manged by her mom (who also appears with different items in some pictures). Sofia shows us what she is wearing and provides links so that we can purchase the items directly. As in this photo.

And that’s our list. If you like the topic you can browse along the tools linked above in the blogpost ( as they list up to 1000 Finnish instagrammers) and perhaps find your new favorite instagrammer from Finland.

What is your favorite Finnish instagrammer? Recommend it in the comments!