Ruisrock: A Trip to Finland’s Oldest Rock N’ Roll Festival

South Finland’s Ruissalo island certainly isn’t the nation’s party capital. The island is home to just over one-hundred people, housing relatively few travellers and catering to a permanent population that’s fairly quiet and self contained. Administratively a sector of the nation’s important Turku area, most residents dismiss the island as a small yet pretty opportunity to get away from city life.

But once a year, Ruissalo transforms into one of Europe’s premier party destinations. The island is home to the annual Ruisrock music festival, the largest of its type in Finland and the second-largest music festival in Europe after Germany’s Rock am Ring. Acts have included Rammstein, HIM, and other European rock acts, bringing a distinctly international flair to the small island community.

Residents are amazed at how such an enormous festival has made its way to their island. Ruisrock was once a major counterculture event in the country, attracting hippies and university dropouts in mass quantities, but recent years have seen it transform into a national phenomenon. Tourists from nearby Sweden and Estonia trek to Finland’s tiny island seeking rock, heavy metal, and excitement.

The event has certainly attracted the attention of local lawmakers, who’ve been forced to handle an increasingly large pool of complaints from local residents. But alongside the festival’s noise nature and big-name acts is a powerful economic pull – business owners in Turku expect fans of the event to bring in several million euros for local businesses.

With forty years of history behind it, the festival’s current date is due to be a smash event. Acts such as Ozzy Osbourne and Slash have confirmed their performances, leading to speculation that it could be the biggest in Ruisrock history. For the areas residents it remains a mixed blessing, though those with businesses on the island are praying for a record turnout.