Turku Capital of Culture

Date: 15 January 2011

Location: Turku, Finland

Client: Turku 2011 Foundation, Turku City Council, MTV Media

To create an epic opening spectacle to mark Turku’s year as Capital of Culture 2011 drawing on the city’s fascinating geography and history linked to a key moment around ‘communication.’

Our opening event for Turku 2011 was the single largest event of the Capital of Culture year. Directed by Mark Murphy, it was also the most ambitious outdoor performance ever seen in Finland. Immersed in Turku’s heritage, the hour long spectacle of music, performance and fire saw Turku’s historic Wartsila shipyard burst into life against the atmospheric backdrop of the frozen River Aura.

This Side, The Other Side attracted an audience of 50,000, plus a global audience reached via live broadcast on MTV3. The site-specific, outdoor spectacle was informed by community history and geography, and at its heart, featured a major participation programme involving thousands of local residents and schoolchildren.

This key moment took ‘communication’ as a theme with semaphore and morse code nestled alongside cutting edge technology, as pioneered by local firm Nokia. A choir of 300 local ex-shipworkers; a lantern parade crafted by 2000 Finnish schoolchildren; circus performers and puppetry students reignited the city with passion, and renewed ownership.

A specially composed soundtrack fusing Finnish choral music with minimal techno played out against the world’s largest ever fire-drawing – leaving crowds in no doubt of the city’s vibrant cultural identity.

"Turku’s year has opened, and when it began, it happened with huge thunder and lightning"

Hufvudstadsbladet (Finnish National Newspaper)

Project Specification
Project Scale
Creative Content
Costumes and props
Fire and Fire Drawings
Parades and processions
Site responsive performance