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Saimaa Phenomenon 2026

Culture is Saimaa Phenomenon’s catalyst for change

The enchanting city of Savonlinna was a candidate for European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2026 among the provinces of eastern Finland (North and South Savonia, North and South Karelia), and their respective central cities: Kuopio, Mikkeli, Joensuu, and Lappeenranta. Collaboration and ideas for building the network started in in the summer of 2018 and continued to the spring 2021.

The area included in the Savonlinna Capital of Culture project is determined by natural boundaries consisting of the Greater Saimaa and Vuoksi watersheds, and characterised by a common history and culture inspired by water. The name “Saimaa Phenomenon” derives from the “Tuuliajolla” (“Adrift”), rock festival tour in the early 1980s, created by Savonia-born musician Juice Leskinen. In 1981, Finnish film directors Aki and Mika Kaurismäki made the documentary film “Saimaa-ilmiö” (“Saimaa Phenomenon”). Just like the movie, we wanted to achieve an honest, rough, ambitious, and energetic application which tells the story of the cultural activities in eastern Finland.

This is our bid book for European Capital of Culture 2026:

More information:


Outi Rantasuo, Culture director
+358 44 417 4400
outi.rantasuo (@) savonlinna.fi