Lake Tuusula

photo © Järvenpään kaupunki

Lake Tuusula & Järvenpää Guide

A modern town of less than 40,000 inhabitants, Järvenpää is significant in that it hosts 3 major events – the Sibelius Festival, the Lakeside Blues Festival, and the Lake Tuusula Chamber Music Festival. It has also been home to many famous Finns, and the Järvenpää Culture Trail, on the shores of Lake Tuusulanjärvi, takes you past the dwellings of Jean Sibelius, Juhani Aho and Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, J.H. Erkko, Eino Leino, Eero Järnefelt, Pekka Halonen and the Sibelius Academy’s Kallio-Kuninkala College.

Located just 38km north of Helsinki, Järvenpää is a modern hi-tech town of almost 39,000 inhabitants with significant cultural heritage. The town gained its charter in 1951 and town status in 1967. To a large extent it can be regarded as a garden city, providing its citizens with a wealth of excellent recreational facilities in an area that melds modern urbanisation with the creation and maintenance of numerous green spaces.

The town is best known as the home of the master composer Jean Sibelius; his log villa ‘Ainola’ was completed in 1904 and he lived there until his death in 1957. Named for his wife of 64 years, Ainola is now a museum, preserved as it was when they lived there, and open to the public from May until September. Other artists moved here, living along the shores of Lake Tuusulanjärvi, including the author Juhani Aho and his painter wife Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, the poets J.H. Erkko and Eino Leino, and the artists Eero Järnefelt and Pekka Halonen. Today, visitors can follow the Järvenpää Culture Trail, a 2km walking tour which connects the Lake Tuulusa artistic community’s various locations, including Sibelius’s Ainola, Aho’s Ahola, the Järnefelt’s Suviranta, and the Sibelius Academy’s Kallio-Kuninkala College.

The cultural centre of the town is Järvenpää Hall which is home to one of the most popular venues in the Helsinki region, Sibelius Hall. The centre also houses the Järnätti exhibition centre which hosts art exhibitions year round. Järvenpää Hall also houses the Järvenpää Theatre which puts on plays, and also produces poetry readings and musical evenings. Next door to Järvenpää Hall you’ll find the Järvenpää Art Museum, housed in the library building, which features theme exhibitions of the work of Eero Järnefelt and Venny Soldan-Brofeldt. Since its creation the museum’s collection has grown considerably thanks to donations, and now arranges other seasonal exhibitions to complement those of the two main artists. Other seasonal art exhibitions are put on by the local Art Society in Järvenpää Art House. Another interesting spot is Villa Kokkonen which was the home of composer Joonas Kokkonen, and one of the few private buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. Completed in 1969, it is now open to the public in summer throughout the year.

Järvenpää is also home to the annual Sibelius Festival, a concert series that runs from October through December that has gained international recognition. Our Festival Järvenpää, which is also known as Lake Tuusula Chamber Music Festival, attracts the finest musicians in Finland to celebrate the rich heritage of chamber music in the country. Every year at the end of July the festival runs along a different theme, and takes place at numerous venues around the town, including the forest just behind Ainola, Kallio-Kuninkala (the Paloheimo family mansion), Suviranta, Ainola, the Hyrylä Olympia Barracks, and in Järvenpää Hall. The other famous music festival held in Järvenpää is Puistoblues, the Lakeside Blues Festival held at numerous venues throughout the town and at Vanhankylänniemi. Puistoblues is one of Europe’s largest blues events, held annually the week following midsummer, and is Finland’s fourth largest event – attracting over 120,000 visitors in 2008. It begins with the opening of ‘Blues Street’ where there is an intensive program of live music from midday to evening, at which point the performances move to four clubs in the town. The culmination of the festival is an open air concert held in a charming park by lake Tuusulanjärvi on the Saturday.