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Kainuu a Success at Winter Wonders in Brussels
Santa Claus Won the Hearts of Many, Virtual National Parks Attracted People to the House of Silence
The Finnish Santa Claus was the most famous character of the Finnish Christmas market, if possibly of the whole event, occurring in countless selfies and bringing joy for both children and adults at the market area. Santa also visited a children’s hospital and the Europe School.
There was a constant queue outside the House of Silence, since only ten visitors were allowed in at a time for safety reasons. The virtual tour in Finnish national parks proved to be a unique experience that made the people sigh with delight. According to the staff of the House of Silence, the visitors typically wanted to know more about practical details of travelling to Finland, such as the price level and the opportunities the different seasons offer in Finland. The features of Kainuu region that attracted the most attention were, as expected, especially the bears, bear watching and snow sports, Hossa national park and Kuhmo chamber music festival. Also the house in itself, constructed from cross-laminated timber from Kainuu (CLT-elements) engaged the attention of especially the experts of construction and/ or architecture.
The staff of the House of Silence during the five weeks consisted staff of the Regional Council of Kainuu, students of the Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and also people from regional development company Kainuun Etu Ltd, state-owned enterprise Metsähallitus, tourism destinations as well as the municipalities of Suomussalmi and Kuhmo.
The blazed salmon sold by Kalevala Spirit Ltd sold quite well, but the customers were at first cautious with the spicy “Glögi” drink, says Mr Akke Virtanen from Kalevala Spirit Ltd. The first products sold out from the Finnish chalets were the reindeer hides and the tasty, award-winning gins.
A Light and Sound Show with Finnish Twist at Grand Place
The light and sound show at Grand Place in Brussels was seen and heard several times every day during the five weeks. The theme was Finland, and also the language of the audio material was Finnish.
– As the show started for the first time at the Grand Place, around the blue and white Christmas tree (the colours of the Finnish flag), in loud and clear Finnish language, it was an emotional moment for an old hippie like myself. It was the most striking moment of my whole history of Christmas markets, says Akke Virtanen, who indeed has an experience of nearly 20 years of such activities.
The dance group formed by amateur Kainuu men, Äijät or “The Dudes” in English, made the market audience go wild, and also performed at the European Parliament. The group “Kannellen” from Kajaani put a different kind of spell on the audience, playing the national instrument of Finland, Kantele. Also a movie week with Finnish productions (all of those at least partly produced in the Kainuu region) took place before Christmas.
– All the productions brought to Brussels were of high quality and raised interest among the local audience. Several actors of the field also emphasised their interest to start some kind of cooperation with our region, says the Regional Mayor Pentti Malinen.
The Processes Started in Brussels Will Continue
The quite successful display of Kainuu region in Brussels has raised the cooperation with Visit Finland to a clearly different level, says Regional Mayor Pentti Malinen. The cooperation will continue in spring 2019, for example in form of a Fam trip to Kainuu arranged for Belgian travel operators. A Belgian TV group will visit Kainuu next summer for three days, and also a trip to Kuhmo festival is currently marketed for the Belgian audience. Also the discussions on the possibility to arrange exotic golf trips from Belgium to Kainuu have been started during the Winter Wonders event and are on-going.
The marketing efforts of Kainuu region and Finland are continued at the national travel fair in Helsinki in January 2019, as well as at the Grüne Woche event in Berlin, where Finland is the main partner this year.
Regional Mayor Pentti Malinen +358 44 797 0197
Akke Virtanen +358 40 540 7777