1. Spend a day floating on a river with 5,000 other party animals.
You, a bunch of friends, and lots of beer floating down the river on a rubber boat. Add thousands more people and a hot summer day and you have the craziest Finnish party (and a near-death experience — alcohol and large bodies of water don’t mix too well). Kaljakellunta or Beer Floating does not have official organizers. Instead, every year the date is decided on social media and the word spreads all over Finland like an STD on a college campus.
Rubber-craft hopping to do some socializing with the guys nearby might seem like a good idea, but, from experience, I can guarantee that, one way or another, you’ll end up in the water.
2. Get famous.
What’s the connection between a guy in a Superman suit tightrope-walking and a man in a TV program trying to break the world record for the most Coca-Cola ever consumed? Well, they both got famous in Finland for doing something stupid.
With a population smaller than London’s in an area 100,000 km2 bigger than Great Britain, it’s rather easy to get well-known. Also, Finnish media loves weird stories (mostly because journalists are tired of writing about the effects of the lack of sun during the winter months), so this is your chance. Drive from Hanko to Kuusamo with a mini digger (it’ll take you about a month), let everybody know about it on social media, and there’ll be more than 3,000 people waiting to greet you when you will arrive.
3. Go celebrate summer, Viking style.
Hit Provinssirock, Ruisrock, and Metsäfestival and enjoy the very long hot days before November and its 9 hours of sunlight come wrecking your world. Finnish summer festivals are crazier than Woodstock ever was, with thousands of people looking for love and adventures getting knocked right out of their senses by the warm summer days.
In the middle of a furious, loud, jubilant Finnish crowd it’s not too difficult to imagine what Vikings did for fun. Make these four days of camping and drinking the best time of your life; the memories will amuse you for the years to come and, if you did it properly, they’ll also amuse your friends for the next decade.
4. Enjoy some Midsummer’s magic.
A night when the sun never sets is the best time for a party by the lake with lots of friends, no neighbours, and a Midsummer bonfire. Enjoy the sauna (naked, of course), share hidden swigs of Finlandia, collect flowers to put under your pillow so that you can see your future spouse in your dreams, and then make a big fire to stare at with your friends (and compare with the other ones burning around the lake). In the early hours, sing karaoke without background music. What’s the magic? It’s that you’ve survived to see the next day.
5. Explore the wilderness of Finland while you can.
Your 20s is the best time to explore Northern Finland. You have all your mental and physical capacities to get you out of a bad situation if needs be, so head all the way up to Karhunkierros in autumn (not too cold, not too hot, no mosquitoes), and set camp with no one around for a 100 km radius. Split your time between exploring the northern woods, hiking, and fishing with you buddies like the hard-core explorers you see on TV…and make sure to make time for sitting around a campfire drinking beer. Here’s the plan:
- Charge your phone battery.
- Choose buddies who run slower than you or who can shoot a bear under pressure.
- Take enough food with you, not only beer.
- If you are the proud owner of a Nokia, charge your battery again.
- Do it.
6. Make love under the Northern Lights.
The Japanese believe that making love under the Northern Lights bestows good fortune for the baby that may be the result of such a romantic night. However, if you’re not looking forward to the baby, read your high school biology notes again before heading to one of the cottages of Levi, Ylläs.
7. Create a party at the Helsinki Central Railway Station.
Choose a late Friday or Saturday night, tune your guitar, stand in front of the Helsinki railway station and encourage people to start dancing. I’ve seen it happen many times. This is the place to restore your faith in the humanity (if you know how to play) and remind everyone why you should always act like a 20 year old.