Here’s what to expect from the ambitious art program at Helsinki’s award-winning Flow Festival

Heading to Flow Festival in Helsinki this year? Great choice; not only will you be getting amongst performances from world-renowned acts like Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Aphex Twin, London Grammar, the xx, and Angel Olsen, you’ll be able to experience an immersive cutting-festival which has been named one of Europe’s very finest. And that’s saying a lot, considering how sought-after European music and arts festivals are; often occupying the top spots on any discerning traveler’s bucket-list.

How do they do it? That’s a question which could only be answered after you wrap yourself in the splendour of music, arts and gastronomy that is Flow Festival. But as a handy preview, we’ve pulled together some of the most interesting sounding arts happenings that will be transforming the atmosphere to make this year’s event something truly special, and distinctive in the festival’s long and celebrated history.

Much like previous years, the Flow Festival area, which is in and around a disused Power Plant a few kilometers out of the city center (the Suvilahti area), will be packed with current and evocative installations from local and international artists. Many of these are collaborations with local institutions, including Gallery Forum Box and Laura Väinölä, Aalto University, Make Your Mark gallery, and movie theatre/bar Riviera. With so many diverse channels of art and culture pumped into Flow Festival, the grounds are going to be brought to life by a packed program of films, light and video installations, graffiti pieces, architecture, art education workshops, animations, design, and even virtual reality works.

The permanent on-site gallery at Suvilahti, Make Your Mark, will be highlighting their exhibitions while also bringing two internationally renowned artists’ pieces for those heading to the festival, complementing other pieces like one from Finland’s best known graffiti artist, ESG, who will spray paint the festival area’s gasometer with a huge world map, illuminated in fluorescent light with an aesthetic inspired by Kraftwerk’s legendary “Computer World”. Denmark’s most acclaimed street artists, HuckMitNavn, will also be on-site; in addition to having his The Print Show exhibition at the Make Your Mark gallery, the artist will be painting a mural in the festival grounds.

Many different pieces and projects will be coming from students at Aalto University, including a 100-meter long mural which has been curated by students of Visual Communication Design. Students from Spatial Design will be getting involved with a green lounge area on the festival grounds, featuring a light installation changing with the passing of the day. Architecture students will be presenting an impressive and unique three-story Kokoon House in a specialised area. Students of Art Education will be conducting workshops for children in a dedicated all-ages area. And students from the Department of Film, Television and Scenography will have their short films highlighted at the breezy Riviera Cinema Bar.

Others from the University will be creating experimental animations to be showcased on the Main Stage and Lapin Kulta Red Arena screens between sets, making for a much more interesting segue than your typical low-volume house playlist.

The aforementioned Riviera Cinema Bar will make its triumphant return to the festival after much success last year, presenting a place where festival-goers can take a break, sink into cozy beach chairs and hammocks, indulge in refreshments and enjoy multiple programs, like Friday’s “Teenage Kicks” series with teenage nostalgia films from different eras, and Saturdays “Riviera Arts” schedule, highlighting various art selections. Even kids will get their fill, with Sunday introducing a Riviera Kids programme.

Virtual Reality will have a big presence at the festival this year, with VR goggles and curated content by Flow in collaboration with OP Helsinki, one of the festival’s partners whom are giving away special OPxFLOW virtual reality goggles at their branches before the festival begins, encouraging people to use their smartphone and high-quality headphones to enjoy various 360° video experiences and curated VR content during the weekend. Goggles will also be handed out on festival grounds for anyone who misses out.

The University of the Arts of Helsinki has curated ambitious light installations that will feature prominently at the festival while other projects will come from the likes of Galleria Forum Box, bringing unique video installations suited for the post industrial landscape of Suvilahti, and Laura Väinölä, Young Designer of the Year who will be creating an interactive shrine built for plants and displayed in the festival’s reworked Backyard area. That particular area will be going through a considerable change this year, moving away from its regular offerings and drawing on the increasing amount of interest in wellbeing lifestyles, offering free yoga classes, and food centered on wellbeing curated by various restaurants and cafes offering raw food, healthy treats, coffee and juices.

Interesting use of spaces will also play a major part in the festival’s overall character, from a skeletal old gas container flanking the main stage area to a pop-up brewery that has been created from repurposed old structures and graffiti-covered brickwalls.

There’ll be plenty of visually engaging and mentally stimulating works spread amongst all that music across all three days (11th-13th August) of Flow Festival, to learn more about what to expect head to their official website HERE. Not sure which live music acts to see yet? Check out our top picks HERE.

the AU review will be on-ground at this year’s Flow Festival so be sure to follow us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) at @theaureview for all the action across the weekend