Our events are often located in the beautiful Finnish countryside by a lake, far from the noise and bustle of larger cities. This also means that shops are far away and definitely not within any reasonable walking distance. Due to this, public transport very rarely if ever stops next to the venue. However, the organizers can pick you up from a pre-agreed location or otherwise arrange private transportation for you to the venue.
Internet access is not usually part of the venues but mobile phone data connections might (or might not) work. As roaming is expensive, you should ask an organizer or another attendee if they can loan their phone for awhile or share their Internet connection for you over wi-fi. If the mobile data connectivity status on the venue is known, this is usually mentioned in the event specific pages.
As much of the event takes place outdoors, pack both clothes with you that you can wear in bright sunshine and clothes you can wear in rain. As we will be in the middle of forests, it might not be a bad idea to also pack in some waterproof shoes especially if rain is forecasted. Heavy rainfall may cause some outdoor programs to be rescheduled or cancelled.
Venues do not have cleaning services so all attendees are expected to do some simple chores like taking the thrash out or cleaning up the kitchen after meals when asked to do so. No one should get overburdened with these tasks as they are shared between all attendees. In addition we will do a clean-up sweep of the venue on Sunday morning where attendees are divided into task forces assigned to specific locations (such as sleeping quarters, sauna, camp fire site or kitchen) to clean them up and make sure no one has forgotten any of their belongings there.
The exact program varies every event so check the event specific page for a more detailed program. However, usually the event starts on Thursday afternoon with first attendees arriving at 15:00-16:00. More attendees arrive on Friday afternoon. A short welcome speech with info and a quick greeting round also takes place on Thursday and Friday after the attendees have arrived. Programming during Thursday is relaxed with major programs taking place on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is used for prize giving ceremonies and cleaning up. The event usually ends at around 13:00.
Programs in past have included an outdoor Tolkien quiz with questions hidden in the woods around the venue, larp sessions, medieval dance lessons, ad-hoc tabletop gaming sessions, etc… All of these are dependant on the activity of the attendees since they are arranged by volunteers. If you have any program in mind that you would like to run for us, we are more than delighted to hear more from you. Due to venue restrictions, unfortunately not all wild program ideas are always possible.
As we are in Finland, sauna is naturally heated every evening. We have men’s and women’s shifts in sauna but also a mixed sauna shift. Swimsuits can be worn in sauna but most Finns usually do not and opt to bathe naked. Sauna is usually heated to 60-80 degrees Celsius. Sauna is not compulsory of course and you are free to just go wash yourself in the sauna washing room at any time during the day. Some venues may also have indoor showers. Whether you go to sauna or wash yourself at other times, remember to bring your own shower gel, shampoo and towel as these are not provided by the venues.
- The event is entirely NON-ALCOHOLIC. You are not allowed to consume alcohol on the premises nor to be intoxicated (ie. drinking elsewhere and arriving to the venue intoxicated).
- If you intend to bring weapons or other sharp objects such as knives, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain permission. This is for your and other participants’ safety and security.
- Smoking is only allowed outdoors in designated area(s).
- All adult attendees are personally responsible for any damage they cause to the venue or to other participants’ property. The adult guardian will be responsible for the actions of the underage participant.
TRAVELLING TO/FROM THE VENUE
If you fly into Finland, your most likely initial destinations are Helsinki or Tampere. Most flights go to Helsinki but Ryanair operates several flights to/from Tampere. In Helsinki you can take the bus 61 to Tikkurila railway station which is located on the main railway line that runs between Helsinki and Tampere. You can also take a bus 615 or 620 directly to the Helsinki city center. Taxi to the city center can be booked from the terminal on arrival and costs about 30 EUR for a single person. In 2014 Helsinki airport will get its own underground railway station. If you fly to Tampere, you can take a bus from the airport to the city railway station. The bus only stops in front of T1 so you need to walk from T2 if you flew in with Ryanair or other low-cost airline but the airport is very small so it only takes a minute or two. Or you can take a taxi directly to your destination (costs about 17 EUR to the city center per person).
The best ways to get around between cities are trains and buses. All trains are operated by the state-owned VR corporation. You can pre-book tickets and get a discount but it is not much cheaper than buying tickets from the station on the day of travel. The class of the train service affects the pricing more. Slower express trains are cheaper than faster InterCity or even faster Pendolino trains. Note that while it is possible to get on a train without a ticket and to buy one from the conductor, it is massively more expensive than buying one from the station before boarding. On all long-haul train services (ie. all non-commuter services) you must also reserve a seat as part of your booking.
As the events are often held in the countryside, you can rarely get close by using a train. Buses can almost always get you close enough for a personal pickup by the organizers. Finland has lots of regional bus operators so single operators might not able to get you to your destination.
To look at possible routes with trains/buses, you can use the matka.fi journey planner. It can combine services from local, regional and national bus operators as well as train and even domestic flight services. If you have problems finding suitable routes, contact us and we will attempt to help you the best we can. Often we have participants coming in from all over the country by car and we might even be able to get you a seat on one of those cars for an enjoyable ride with other Tolkienists!
When travelling in cities (for train/bus connections for example), local buses and taxis are the best options. Larger cities operate their own public transportation systems, for example in Helsinki this is HKL/HSL and in Tampere TKL.
Even though Finland does not have a large problem with unlicensed taxis, you should still make sure you only use licensed taxis.
- Hail only cabs with a yellow taxi (taksi) light on the roof
- Call the local area taxi call center and book a taxi. In Helsinki area you can call 0100 0700 to call a taxi immediately or 0100 0600 to book in advance. In Tampere area call 0100 4131. For other areas, google for taxi. Advance booking always costs extra so unless you are on tight schedule (and must have your taxi waiting for you in a certain place at a certain time), it is better to call a taxi when you need it.
- Go to an official taxi rank, which can easily be found next to most bus/train stations and airports (note for late travellers in larger cities: be careful on taxi ranks late at night after bars close though due to drunken fellow queuers).
- If you are staying overnight in a hotel, ask the reception to call a taxi for you when leaving (usually a complimentary service) or whether there is a taxi rank nearby to which you could walk. Large hotels can also have their own taxi ranks.
Whatever your plans may be, please let us know of them in advance so that we know when and where to expect you.
Since we do not serve lunches or dinners, participants should buy something to eat and drink during the event as served meals may not be enough. In past events, many have opted for ready meals heated in microwave ovens or premade pizzas. Usually (check event specific pages) it is also possible to cook your own food and often at least some people do so. If you have a seat in one of our local attendees’ cars, they often stop in a supermarket en-route to the event (but check with the driver).
If needed, we can also offer trips to a local store (often just a small convenience store) to buy food. The on-premise kitchen and cold storage facilities are also available for use by the participants. Exact details on kitchen amenities, etc… are available in the event-specific pages.
THINGS TO PACK
- Insect repellent (these can also be bough from any Finnish market or convenience store)
- Food and drink (what you need in addition to served meals).
- Sleeping equipment (pillow case & blanket cover & bed linen). If these take too much space to pack, ask organizers if they could be arranged for you.
- Electric torch (if you have one)
- Washing equipment (soap, shampoo, towel, toothbrush, etc…)
- Swim fins / swimming suit
- Board games, books, etc.. what you need to pass time or have a good time with others
NOTE! REGARDING UNDERAGE (BELOW 18) VISITORS
All underage visitors coming from outside of Finland MUST be accompanied by an adult guardian. Unless the adult is also the parent of the underage person in question, they must have a written permission from the parent with them for the underage person to attend the event. This permission must also specify the appointed guardian by name. NOTE! If coming by a ferry (for example from Stockholm or Tallinn), the ferry operators may have their own rules regarding underage travellers that may also vary according to the day of the week.
NOTES ON FINLAND
In Finland you must go to a licensed pharmacy (apteekki) for ANY pharmaceutical products (even prescription free ones). There are a lot of small pharmacies but also larger chains like Yliopiston Apteekki. These are usually NOT located near the venues so either bring any medicines with you or make sure you stop in a city or a town on your way to the event venue.
Finland uses the schuko electric plugs at 230V (same as in Germany for example). If you come from a country with a different standard (like UK), remember to take the necessary adapters with you.
Summer weather in Finland can vary greatly from cold and rainy (15C) to hot and dry (up to 35C) and these can come and go quickly. Usual mean daily highs are around 18-22C from early July to mid-August. So watch the weather forecast for general trends but come prepared for anything. Daylight can last up to 20 hours close to midsummer and the rest will be twilight (not really dark) so take something to blindfold yourself with if you cannot sleep in daylight.
Finland has lots of mosquitoes during the summer months so insect repellent that you can put on yourself is a must. The mosquitoes do not carry any dangerous diseases so unless you are allergic to them, they are mostly harmless apart from the itching bites. Finland also has common bean ticks that may carry (rarely) borreliosis or (extremely rarely) encephalitis. Organizers have tick removal equipment at hand if needed.