i really appreciated the subdued nature of the festivities. there was a gathering of people in senate square, there was choral singing, hot food/drink stands, a free carousel for kids, and the parade began from there. the parade only moves along maybe a dozen city blocks and it is neither loud nor littered with corporate sponsored junk floats. it is short, simple, and filled with enchanting costumes and magic. well done finland.
the funny thing was, we didnt even know it was parade day until we were eating our typical sunday lunch at stockmann. we then decided to mill around the city center and see what we could see: we saw the big public ice skating rink was set-up on the square by the train station, we saw the christmas lights that had been strung on the shopping street of helsinki (from senate square down to stockmann) and we joined in the festivities on senate square before taking a place curbside to wait for the parade (it technically begins when santa arrives on senate square to turn on the streets christmas lights). as luck would have it (for everyone), X caught a quick nap before the first police car of the beautiful little parade passed by. it began with a gorgeous old wooden tram, and then it was sprinkled with snow angels/snow people/fairies/snowmen, 4 separate troops of different dog breeds, and a single horse-drawn carriage driven by some kind of forest witch carried a very authentic and classic looking santa in the back, his caroling elves followed behind, and lastly there was a line of historic firefighting vehicles.
(senate square fun)
(snow angels; toy soldiers and dolls)
(fairies; historic fire truck)
and while there was a busy glush of people leaving afterward, we were still able to get right onto a bus and back home to thaw out. it turned out to be a great and unexpected sunday...and the official beginning to the holiday season here.