Hiking at 2am under the soft golden sun becomes the norm and waking up at 7am later that same morning to get to work at the Reindeer farm. I wouldn’t change this routine for the world.
It would seem there are two traditional ways of celebrating Midsummer, partying, or relaxing by the lake. Most Finns will have their own traditional summer cottage. This often involves a few key details; A lake side view, complete with rowing boat and pier. A place for a campfire, and most importantly and traditionally; a Sauna. The Sauna culture is huge and ingrained in Finland, and across most of Scandinavia; from ice sauna, a floating sauna to infrared sauna. I often find myself feeling that the Finns and Scandinavians are light years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of self-care, environmental awareness and quality of life.
I took the opportunity at Midsummer to experience everything I could. Being a national holiday I had a long weekend off ahead of me. I was not sure I could commit to any one tradition so I tried them all. I spent the first two evenings on top of Ruka Fell at the very first Solstice Festival to be held here. It was nothing short of magical, and undoubtedly the most unique festival I have ever attended. Accessed either on foot via a solid uphill slog, or the rather easier method of a chair lift reaching the top was like entering into another world. The festival featured art installations, dance floors set into the undulating fell and teepees. Dancing, drinking and swaying to the music under the soft midnight sun felt like I had stepped straight into an Alice and Wonderland novel.
The weather was, I am told not unusual for a Finnish summer; light rain, patchy sunshine and soft mist that moved lazily across the fell top, engulfing the festival at intervals before the sun pushed its way through. These conditions only added to the wonderland feeling and made for some very appealing images. By the early hours of the morning I was itching to get away from the buzz of people and noise, time to escape for some solitude. I drove north to Oulanka National Park at midnight and found that much needed solitude among the foggy trails. Exploring in the rain is quite possibly my favourite thing to do. Add bad weather, and the crazy hour, and I had the entire park to myself. What’s not to love? I cannot wait to spend the next few weeks exploring this otherworldly place.
Text and photos:Amelia Le Brun, a landscape and lifestyle photographer, working as #reindeerherder in Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association for a month, exploring and experiencing the amazing summer of Ruka-Kuusamo area.