photo © Kokkolan Matkailu Oy

Tourism Kokkola & Kokkola Guide

A town rich in history, Kokkola seems to pass each year moving from one celebration or festival to another. Beginning in February with its Festival of Dance, through the Winter Accordion Festival, Spring Fish and Summer Markets, Mustakari in Memories music festival, Kokkola Opera Summer Festival, Venetsialaiset, Scandinavian Blues Party and the Autumn Market; there’s always something happening in Kokkola!

Situated half-way up the west coast of Finland in the Gulf of Bothnia, almost equidistant from Helsinki and the Arctic Circle, the historic city of Kokkola was founded in 1620 by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, growing to become an important shipbuilding centre in Finland and a major producer of tar. By the 18th century it had one of the largest merchant fleets in the country and was, for a time, the richest town in Finland. Today it remains the provincial centre of Central Ostrobothnia.

Tourist attractions Kokkola

This rich history is reflected in the number of museums in the city. The best way to experience them is to take Old Kalle’s Town Walk which takes you through Neristan, Kokkola’s old timber house district, to the Karl Herman Renlund Art Gallery and Museum, the Historical Museum and the Exhibition Hall in the Museum Quarter, and Kieppi. The K.H Renlund Museum contains around 40 works from the golden age of Finnish art, as well as a large collection of work by renowned artist Veikko Vionja, and the camera collection of photographer Leo Torppa.

In the Museum Quarter you’ll find Finland’s oldest secular wooden building from 1696, now a museum, where you can discover the town’s seafaring history and view miniature models of old ships and an exhibition on the Battle of Halkokari. Nearby stands Lassander House which shows how a wealthy merchant family lived in the 18th century, and an exhibition hall. In Kieppi you’ll find collections by nature preservation pioneer Veikko Salkio, which contains examples of almost every Finnish mammal and bird species, Viljo Nissinen, containing over 1,400 specimens of different minerals, and lepidopterologist Armas Järvelä, with around 30,000 butterflies on display, many of them rare.

Other museums include the Kaarlela Museum of Local History and Culture, comprising a stone exhibition centre, a stable, workshop and forge, a smoke sauna, a drying barn and several other buildings, where local peasant culture from the 19th century is presented. The Hunting Museum introduces the history of hunting, always an integral part of Ostrobothnian life, from prehistoric times to the present, in a small log cottage and barn. The Fire Museum contains a collection of objects from the 1800s to the present, and is run by the volunteer firemen of Kaarlela. In the village of Öja, some 15km from Kokkola, you’ll find the Fishing Museum, in the form of a cottage, boat sheds, smoke sauna, fyke/fish-trap and salt storage sheds, a woodshed, all furnished and equipped according to their use. 10km to the north is the Toivonen Animal Park and Peasants Museum, providing visitors with an insight into the rustic life of a Central Ostrobothnian village at the turn of the last century, and providing children with the opportunity to see, and touch, some 20 different species of farm animals in traditional surroundings.

Kokkola has a plenty of events in its annual calendar, starting with Kokkolan Talvitansiit, the Festival of Dance, in February. This is followed by the Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival, a week long event which draws thousands of visitors every year. As elsewhere in Finland, Kokkola celebrates Midsummer night with fireworks, bonfires and parties. June ends with the Mustakari in Memories music festival. In July the town hosts the prestigious Kokkola Opera Summer, a week of opera performances. August ends with the Venetian Night Festival, Venetsialaiset, and annual celebration marking the end of the season for summer cottages with fireworks, fires, and by decorating their yards and trees with lights. In October the town hosts a two day Scandinavian Blues Party, followed by their annual Autumn Market.