When students come to Finland, they usually assume the weather is just going to be freezing cold but there are four very distinguished seasons in Finland. Although, in southern and central Finland the snow season lasts from December to the end of March or April, there’s still plenty of room for spring, summer and autumn.
Let’s go though the full cycle of seasons and start with summer, the most beautiful season in Finland.
This is the time of the year when people come out from hiding and stay up until dawn. Schools are on break; the sun never sets, and you can constantly smell people barbecuing. Summer officially starts in June and lasts until the end of August. It never gets completely dark since the sun is down only a couple of hours a day, and even then you can still see it peeping over the horizon.
As for activities, the list never ends. There are many music festivals organized throughout the summer: Ruisrock, Flow festival and later in the summer there is Blockfest. These are just to name a few, you can find many more smaller and bigger music festivals all around Finland. If you aren’t that big on festivals, you can always do summer the traditional Finnish way. People go to nature and spend time at their summer cottages either with a family or a group of friends. You can go to sauna, swim in the lake, barbecue some sausages and relax. Don’t forget that during this season there are also many mosquitoes in the air. They tend to be harmless but can get quite annoying.
The weather is quite pleasant, and the temperature can dance anywhere between 10 to 30 degrees Celsius. In 2018, Finland had a great summer! The temperature stayed close to 30 degree Celsius, and even over, for several months.
This is also a good time to visit Lapland and other northern parts of Finland. It is breath-taking. During midsummer in northern Finland, the sun never sets, and people travel from afar to experince the Midnight Sun. Any reservations you might have regarding the weather in Finland goes out the window when you experience a proper Finnish summer.
Summer ends gradually towards the end of August and start of September. During this time there is an explosion of colours everywhere when leaves turn red, brown and yellow. This is the season known as ‘ruska’, when the autumn colors are especially beautiful on the fells in Lapland. Autumn is quite the distinct season in terms of nature and aura. This is a lovely time to take strolls in the forests and parks and soak in the last dwindling warmth before winter arrives.
The only drawback to this season is that it is very rainy in Finland, and the rain only stops when the snow comes. Despite the rain and the skies being cloudy, this is also the perfect time to catch the northern lights. It is advised to try to catch them from a location that is not close to the city; the city lights tend to hide the beautiful Aurora Borealis. You can always check the Aurora Forecast, so you do not miss the otherworldly dance of lights.
The temperatures tend to usually be between 0 to 10 degrees Celsius. In Finland, it is considered autumn when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius.
The coldest season starts in November and lasts until the end of March or April. This can be quite a challenging season for many international students since the days get shorter and darker. The darkest time in Finland is during December; this is a tough time for students who cannot visit home during the holidays.
Despite the cold temperature this is also a very beautiful season. This is the perfect time to go ice-swimming. The stark contrast of going into ice cold water and then the hot sauna is very relaxing. When you dip into the water and come out, you can chill outside a bit despite how cold it is. This is not something everyone loves but after a few times it is hard to not love it. Also, it’s proven that this is very good for your health.
Winter is also a time to get cosy and spend time with family and friends. With Christmas right around the corner, everyone’s spirits are high. Christmas is quite simple and traditional in Finland. If you want to learn more, you can read about Finnish Christmas on our blog. ‘Joulu’ (Christmas) celebrates the winter solstice. This is good news because after this holiday it starts getting lighter again.
In Finland during December, many people also celebrate pikkujoulu (little Christmas). This is basically a pre-Christmas party you celebrate with friends and colleagues. You have glögi, pipari (gingerbread cookies) and a great time with friends before everybody heads home to their families. The Edunation team also had a pikkujoulu evening which was warm and lovely. We cooked dinner together and shared some laughs and wine!
Clothing in winter
Winter in Finland, although beautiful, can be harsh. It is important to take care of yourself during this cold and dark period. The biggest question is always what to wear during such cold temperatures. Every indoor location, public transport and even some pathways are heated. When you are not outside, you are always warm, thanks to efficient heating systems. It is still wise to have appropriate gear during winter. Buy a thick snow and wind proof coat, gloves and a hat if needed (if your coat doesn’t come with a warm hood). Remember always cover your ears and head, so you do not get sick.
Layered clothing is also a good idea since even though it might be cold outside, inside it’s often warm enough to wear just a tshirt. Layers also provide good insulation and keep you warm. Lastly in terms of what to wear, shoes are very important. It is crucial to have proper warm boots with a good grip. Be careful while walking on ice though, you may fall a few times, but no one is going to mock you. It isn’t winter in Finland if you do not trip on the ice at least a few times.
Health in winter
It is important to take care of your physical and mental health during this season. Keep your skin moisturized, especially your face because it’s exposed to the elements, and wear warm clothing to prevent frostbites.
Many international students may experience winter depression during their first winter in Finland. Lack of sun and the darkness takes a toll on all of us but there are ways to deal with that. Do not isolate yourself, it will only make you feel worse. Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Buy vitamin D pills, even many Finns take them because you don’t get enough vitamin D from the sunlight. Eat healthy and stay active.
Spring is the shortest season in Finland, even shorter than summer. During spring all the snow starts melting away and flora and fauna returns. Birds start chirping and you can see hares and squirrels come out of hiding. Life slowly returns as people and animals alike come out of their winter hibernation.
The weather can still be cold and rainy, but this is the season people have been waiting for because summer is right around the corner. Spring officially starts in March, but it won’t start getting warmer until April. The average temperature is between 0 to 10 degrees Celsius and there’s more sunlight every day.
We hope you enjoyed reading this and it gave you a better idea how seasons transition in Finland. Everyone has their own way to adapt to these seasons, take your time to settle in and try to enjoy each season just as the next one.
If you want to read more about Finnish seasons, give this post about Finnish Midsummer a go.