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Kokkola’s Venetian Night Festival

A celebration of water, fire and light

According to a century-old tradition, the summer cottage communities and coastal residents of the Kokkola area conclude the summer season with the Venetian Night Festival. This tradition was born towards the end of the 19th century among the wealthy villa communities of the Gulf of Bothnia, and particularly in the Kokkola area.

Venetian Night Festival 2021

28.8.  Program at the the market square
10.00 Music by Kokkolan Nuorisosoittokunta
10.30 Program for children
11.30 Alf Mylläri band & Miia Kaunisto, Natasha Skog , Titta Stenvall
12.10 Miss Kokkola
12.30 Ykspihlajan Työväen Soittajat orchestra

12.00 Traditional rowing competition

  • To begin with, it was fine to mark the festival on any day in August. The most important thing was that it took place during the darkening summer evenings. In this way, the special feature of the celebrations – the play of light and fire on the surface of water – was best on display.

    The Venetian Night Festival featured extensive and varied lighting effects in the different villas. Bonfires, lanterns, tar pots and even fireworks were used to light up the darkening summer evenings. Indeed, the name itself refers to fireworks. In the 1500s and 1600s, the art and technology of fireworks was brought to Europe via Italy, and the new phenomenon was named ‘Venetian fire’ after the Italian city of Venice, which was a centre of trade at the time.

    A standard form for the Venetian Night Festivals gradually took shape, and the celebration began to be always held on the last Saturday of August. As the villa residents moved to their urban apartments in late August or early September, the Venetian Night Festival became established as the closing celebration for the villa season.

  • The last Saturday of August is the moment for the magnificent culmination of the holiday season on the west coast. The darkening evening, the water and fire are the elements that conjure up an unparalleled, rich atmosphere at the closing celebrations of the summer season for the thousands of villas and summer cottages.

    As summer cottages become more widespread, the Venetian Night Festival has come to be enjoyed by an ever broader range of people. These days, the fires of the Venetian Night Festival form a ribbon stretching several kilometres along the coast through the Kokkola summer cottage areas.

    In recent years, the celebration of the Venetian Night Festival has expanded to cover the whole weekend. This event, held always on the last Saturday of August, has over the years become the largest public summer event in Kokkola – one which brings together thousands of people.