Kaustinen Folk Music Festival: A great festival in a small village
By Ndéla Faye | Photos: Risto Savolainen
Good things come in small packages… For the village of Kaustinen, that certainly rings true. With only 4,300 inhabitants, the village transforms itself every summer, as tens of thousands of visitors flock there to enjoy ‘the happiest days of summer’ at Kaustinen Folk Music Festival.
For over four centuries, the tunes of traditional folk music have flowed through the streets of Kaustinen, located in Finland’s central Ostrobothnia. The village is known for its longstanding fiddle tradition, and most of Kaustinen’s inhabitants and the neighbouring communities consider folk music an integral aspect of their identity.
In December 2021, Kaustinen’s fiddle playing was inscribed into UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. “Our distinctive playing style and technique have existed for over 250 years. Music runs in our blood; it gets passed down through families,” says Kaustinen Folk Music Festival’s executive director, Valtteri Valo.
From 11 to 17 July, the village of Kaustinen will go through a transformation – as it has done every summer since 1968. The village has 4,300 inhabitants – but the festival draws in tens of thousands of visitors. “The buzz around the village is tangible. It’s an incredibly vibrant festival, with guests and performers from all around the globe. We see it as an immeasurable richness to our village,” says Valo.
The festival is one of the most important folk music events in Europe. Among the performers are some big names, including world-renowned Sámi artist Mari Boine, as well as Finnish artists and local talent from Kaustinen. “Our festival treats everyone equally. The performers include seasoned professionals as well as hobbyists who spend all year practising to perform at the festival,” Valo explains.
The festival prides itself on being an event for the whole family. The performances include a special kids’ programme and several child performers, as well as a playground for those in need of additional entertainment. “The spirit of fiddling is still very much alive in our village today. We provide a fantastic setting and a great atmosphere for people to enjoy world-class entertainment. There’s plenty of time for jamming around the clock,” Valo concludes.
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