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Tourism Oulu & Oulu Guide

One of largest northerly cities in the world, Oulu has grown from an ancient trading centre to a modern city, packed with museums and galleries, and host to numerous cultural and music festivals every year. These include the Oulu Music Video Festival, the International Children’s Film Festival and the Musixine Music Film competition, the rock festival Qstock, Jalometalli Metal Music Festival and Jalometalli Winterfest, the Festival of Irish Music, the Oulu Music Festival in winter, the Oulunsalo Music Festival in summer. It is also famed for hosting the Air Guitar World Championships!

Founded in 1605 by King Carl IX in the Bay of Bothnia at the mouth of the Oulujoki River, and facing the castle built on the island of Linnansaari, Oulu has developed from being an ancient trading centre to a modern city with a world-wide reputation for hi-tech competencies. With a population of 130,000, Oulu is Finland’s 6th largest city.

Tourist attractions Oulu

It is also the cultural capital of Northern Finland, with many artists, writers, and musicians living in the city, including the ‘shouting choir’ of Mieskuoro Huutajat, otherwise known as The Screaming Men. Every year Oulu hosts a large number of festivals and concerts, with almost every genre covered, from rock to jazz, classical to folk, even holding a Festival of Irish music in the summer. It is home to the Oulu Music Video Festival, the Musixine Music Film Competition, the Air Guitar World Championships, the rock festival Qstock, the Oulu Music Festival of winter, the Oulunsalo Music Festival in the summer, and the International Children’s Film Festival in November.

There are numerous museums in the city, including the impressive Tiedekeskus Tietomaa, Finland’s first Science Centre which has themed exhibitions throughout the year, which houses a giant movie theatre, the Sirius science store, the Saturnus café-restaurant, and the observation tower, accessible by a glass elevator. If you are interested in the history of the region then a visit to the North Ostrobothnia Museum will pass many an hour. View a miniature of the city as it was in 1938 or enjoy the ethnological collection of Lappish items, collected by the ethnologist Samuli Paulaharju. Near the city the Turkansaari Open-Air Museum has over 40 museum buildings, including a church built in 1694 and the old country manor house of Ylikärppä, completed in 1894.

60 km to the north, on the shores of Iijoki, is the Kierikki Stone Age Centre and the Stone Age village. Finland’s largest prehistoric and cultural history centre’s permanent exhibition showcases discovered objects and the history of the region, and gives an insight into how people used to live during the stone age.

The Bay of Bothnia’s largest island, Hailuoto, is located around 50 kilometres from Oulu, the ferry trip taking about 25 minutes. Hailuoto is a very popular recreational spot due to the island’s intrinsic beauty – it is one of Finland’s National Landscapes – with around 600 summer cottages, and a permanent population of 1,000 people. There is a traditional fishing village, wind mills, the lighthouse of Marjaniemi, and magnificent sandy beaches.