I recently spent a weekend in Helsinki and someone I follow on Twitter, Crystal Huff, is involved in the sci-fi community plus she’s Finnish! She gave me some great pointers of where to go and also let me know about Helsinki’s bid to host Worldcon in 2017.
Crystal also tweeted…
— Crystal Huff (@arisiacrystal) April 26, 2015
I’ve never been to a Worldcon or any kind of sci-fi/fantasy/book related conference before (something I should rectify) but I have been to some work related ones so I understand the concept of a conference. Also, I’m just a self-published author of one little sci-fi book so don’t get your hopes up Helsinki but here’s a little blog post about why I think Helsinki would make a great location for Worldcon in 2017.
Helsinki is a beautiful city, great architecture, very clean, not much traffic, a harbour, markets, great transport system (which would be free during the convention; train, bus and tram) allowing you to travel between conference center-downtown-airport with ease, compact, and friendly people who all speak excellent English. Like any capital it has a great selection of shops, hotels and restaurants, I had the best nachos I’ve ever had in Amarillo’s, if that isn’t reason enough.
Maybe the first question you, or someone else, might ask is; isn’t it expensive? No…if you compare it to London. Yes, it’s keenly priced if you’re from out in the sticks somewhere in a relatively low taxed country but it really isn’t that bad. It’s not cheap, you’re not going to get any bargains at the designer stores, but don’t be put off by myth. A weekend budget for just food and drink won’t be any more expensive than any of the major cities.
So why should a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative writer/reader/editor/fan want to go to Helsinki? Apart from being a beautiful, compact city in the top corner of Europe it makes a great place to inspire ideas and see somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. You’ve got a world heritage site at Suomenlinna, Helsinki Observatory, viking culture, a country that’s changed hands a few times, a rich history of design and innovation, and whilst you’re there you could invest in trying to see The Northern Lights. It’s also a great stepping stone to St.Petersburg, Tallin, Scandanavia and elsewhere…if you’ve got the time and the money.
Helsinki is competing with Nippon, Washington DC and Montreal for 2017. After looking through the previous hosts some technical reasons include; the first in Europe outside the UK since Holland in 1990.
It would also be the first time Nippon or Helsinki would have hosted it, if either win. It would be the first time Worldcon had ever been held in a Scandanavian Nordic country. Helsinki would allow greater access from some major areas; Germany, North Eastern Europe, Western Russia, Scandanavia along with easy 2/3 hour flights from elsewhere in Europe (I flew Norwegian Air via Gatwick).
I had a great weekend in Helsinki and would definitely recommend anyone else thinking of going there, especially if you’re a conference.
Unfortunately, you can only vote for Helsinki 2017 if you’re a member of Worldcon. But if you’ve been to Helsinki and want to voice a supporting vote via blog, twitter, facebook or just shouting out the window, I’m sure it’ll be appreciated.