Europe is packed with bucket list festivals all-year round, regularly attracting those from around the world who are itching to explore all sorts of uniquely formed, expertly curated music and arts events, from the most acclaimed to the most obscure. Teetering between both categories is Helsinki’s Flow Festival, a three-day boutique festival worshiping contemporary music and cutting-edge art all in the surrounds of a disused power planet, located just a short walk from the city’s centre. Now in its fourteenth year, the forward-thinking Finnish festival has been cemented as one of the world’s best, being described as “achingly cool”, a “global trendsetter”, and a “work of art” in various international and local media.
The festival’s success is of little surprise when you look at the line-up for this year – a packed program that speaks to Flow’s worldly reputation. As far as music goes, this year is being headlined by big-names including Lana Del Rey, Aphex Twin, The xx, Ryan Adams, and Frank Ocean. Even Aussie hero Flume is heading up to Finland to make his mark on the festival’s long history; a history that seems to take great pride in bringing together acts on every level, from the underground to the top of the charts.
The rest of the line-up is nothing to scoff at either, touting everything from Finnish rap pioneers to experimental undergrounds acts from all across Europe. Oh yeah, and then there’s guaranteed crowd pleasers like Death Grips, Vince Staples, London Grammar, Goldfrapp, Danny Brown, Sampha, Nina Kraviz, Angel Olsen, BadBadNotGood, Larry Heard (Mr Fingers), and a special 20th anniversary show from Finnish indie label Monsp.
Perhaps most unique is that Flow’s historic power plant structures are going to be hosting classical contemporary music alongside “The Other Sound”, a series that promises to bring some of the current generation’s most forward-thinking and experimental music.
Design seems to be a big reason for the festival’s acclaim, making smart use of the entire grounds to subdivide the festival into various distinct spaces. Last year Flow had 11 areas, including large outdoor stages (the main stage area holds around 25,000 people) mixed with everything from tents for 15,000 to small venues for a few hundred people. Major draws are said to be the intimate and highly detailed 360° stage, Resident Advisor’s backyard stage, often described as “hedonistic”, and the smokey, experimental Tiivistämö room which apparently focuses on local talent. The 2016 line-up was spread amongst these areas, balancing all 144 acts of which were equally split into half international and half local names.
Everything from films and seminars to family programs and workshops are included across the three days, sitting alongside the arts and design program which is curated in collaboration with Helsinki’s University of the Arts. It’s said to take a similarly broad scope to the music program, with one-off commissions, installations and art pieces dancing around the festival grounds both indoors and outdoors.
Then you’ve got the food and drink, hand-picked to highlight top-performing, creative and sustainable local businesses with a commitment to local produce. It being Denmark, festival-goers can expect to be well-fed with quality food prepped by some of the city’s most inventive chefs; from photos taken last year, we’re expecting the likes of traditional Denmark favourites (smørrebrød anyone?) and internationally influenced fare as well as pop-up whisky bars and other quality drink offerings. This is a city with multiple restaurants regularly making the “world’s 50 best” list, so expectations are high.
Check out the full line-up below (day-by-day breakdown) and head to the official Flow Festival website for more information. From July 1st the website will be selling 3-day tickets for 195 euros each (if not already sold out).
For those not able to head along, and for those who enjoy torturing yourself with FOMO-inducing Instagram-age you can follow us on @theaureview; we’ll be on-ground this year, bringing you all the action, sights and sounds of Flow Festival.
Flow Festival 2017
When: Friday 11th – Sunday 13th August
Where: Suvilahti Power Plant, Finland
Lana Del Rey
Car Seat Headrest
Joshua Redman: Still Dreaming
Ibibio Sound Machine
Milo & Moses
Vladimir Ivkovic B2B Lauri Soini
Planetary Assault Systems (live)
Model 500 (live)
Veli-Matti O Äijälä & The Kolmas
Femme En Fourrure
Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang
Timo Lassy Band with special guests
Jon Hopkins (DJ set)
Soichi Terada (live)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Emma Valtonen B2B Kristiina Männikkö
Pykäri feat. Ahjo Ensemble
The Afghan Whigs
Fatoumata Diawara & Hindi Zahra
Verneri Pohjola: Pekka
Mr Fingers aka Larry Heard (live)
Fatima Yamaha (live)
The Hacker presents Amato
SØS Gunver Ryberg
Timo Kaukolampi (live)
Dmitry Sinkovsky & Aapo Häkkinen
Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L
Monsp Records 20th anniversary show
Feature Image: Samuli Pentti