“Finns have so much to be proud of and I have spent many years exploring it.”

At Café Voltaire in Turku customers are greeted by a talkative, inquisitive and slightly provocative café owner. His name is Jean-Pierre Frigo. He bakes wonderful croissants and baguettes. He loves literature and many – but definitely not all – things French and Finnish, and he happily shares his views with the customers – right then and there, or at the many special performances that are held at the café.

Russian romance is a part of an endangered musical genre that is about to be brought back to life.

Carelian-born Cossack Viktor Klimenko has garnered fame in the Gospel music scene, but has now gathered together a varied group of talented artists to save a culture that is slowly withering away: the music of the Russian pre-communist era brought over by fleeing emigrants that is renowned for its gripping gypsy songs with a twist of romance.

Rosa Karo’s latest film offers a light alternative for cinemagoers.

FAIRYTALES have become rather rare in today’s world, where films that portray uttermost misery seem to be the most applauded. Cinema houses are packed with works that – although possibly cinematic masterpieces – will make you cry, shiver, or simply bring you down for hours, sometimes even for days.

Creeping onto the Finnish music scene with her haunting melancholia, Mirel Wagner’s unique voice is beginning to make waves overseas.

With a growing fan base both here and abroad, 23-year-old Espoo resident Mirel Wagner continues to win plaudits for her intoxicatingly dark tales, which twist together elements not normally found in modern popular music. Released earlier this year, her remarkable debut album was preceded by the single No Death, a morbid tale of a physical embrace with a deceased partner.

Paavo Arhinmäki leads from the left.

Anyone with even a mild interest in Finnish politics over the past decades knows that Paavo Arhinmäki, Finland’s Minister of Culture and Sport, has been riding other vehicles but the gravy train. The Left Alliance – whose predecessor was Finland’s second-biggest political party at the time of Arhinmäki’s birth – has endured a decline in support virtually since the late 1970s. It has hardly been the party for fortune-hunting “political poussins” (poliittiset broilerit), as Finns jokingly dub their youthful career politicians. But Arhinmäki, true to his values, has not jumped on alternatively coloured bandwagons like so many Finnish left-wing politicians before him.