HELSINKI, THE STYLISH AND YOUNG (BY NORDIC STANDARDS) CAPITAL OF FINLAND,
is a hot new design hub that churns out some of the most electrifying fashion and art in the world – it was designated World Design Capital in 2012, and has not lost momentum since. A hipster heaven of craft-beer bars, boutique coffee roasteries, artist workshops and galleries, and glorious art-nouveau buildings, the city (once ruled by the Swedish, then the Russians) is an intriguing microcosm of centenarian architecture and conservative Finnish heritage, juxtaposed by cutting-edge art and innovative gastronomy. Food in Finland has a strong emphasis on local sourcing, with cream-based dishes making a stronger presence during the winter months. Other interesting eats including smoked reindeer, bear meat, pickled herring, and a variety of nutrition-rich ‘superfoods’ including cloudberries, sea buckthorns, and birch sap. Sauna (correctly pronounced sao-nah, not saw-nah) is the way of life in Finland. That and liquorice; even chocolates here come with liquorice centres. For the daring of heart, be sure to sample some salmiakki while you’re here, a salty version of the candy that has been flavoured with ammonium chloride. With the recent launch of Finnair’s direct route from Singapore to Helsinki, and the Stopover Finland program – jointly organised by Finnair and Visit Finland – that allows passengers travelling via Helsinki to transit for up to five days before continuing on to their destination country, Finland has never been more accessible than it is now, whether it’s a quick sampling of Helsinki, a visit to Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, or an extended trip up to Lapland for a glimpse of the Northern Lights. 2017 will also be a great year to visit Helsinki because of its centenary, which means a plethora of celebrations, exhibitions, and special events for you to play away under the midnight sun.