The Covid-19 pandemic is bringing changes to this year's Independence Day celebrations, both in Finland and at Finnish diplomatic missions abroad. This year, many traditional Independence Day receptions around the world will be held virtually. These virtual receptions also serve as a kind of country branding pilot project, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
Zoan, a cooperation partner of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, has created a virtual environment for the events. The virtual event platform will be further developed and used for virtual country branding events in future as well.
More than 40 Finnish diplomatic missions, about half of the existing ones, will take part in the pilot. An Independence Day event has been created for each mission in Zoan's virtual environment.
The environment is a virtual model of the Lonna Island with the skyline of Helsinki in the background. In this 360-degree world, guests can move as they like and watch videos placed all around the landscape, such as a greeting from the Head of Mission, musical performances and lighthearted presentations of Finnish everyday life and nature. Guests can talk to each other via chat and leave messages in an electronic guest book.
The first events were already held a few days before the actual Independence Day on 6 December, and the last ones will be held on Monday 7 December.
The videos shown
Among the videos that will be shown at the virtual Independence Day receptions are:
- ‘This is Finland!’ performed by the male choir Huutajat is a performance about the core values of Finland. Huutajat means ‘The Shouters’, and that is exactly what they do. The choir does not sing a single note.
- Maija Kauhanen is an award-winning multitalented instrumentalist, singer, composer and lyricist. She has made a truly exceptional arrangement of the Finlandia hymn by Jean Sibelius. This is the first arrangement of the piece made exclusively for this type of kantele. The video for the Finlandia hymn was shot in the Sibelius Park in Helsinki, with the Sibelius monument displayed in the background.
- ‘Nature’s Voice’ portrays our strong relationship to nature. It features pictures taken by nature photographer Ossi Saarinen, combined with Finnish nature sounds created by Samy Kramer and Finnish pre-primary pupils’ adorable thoughts on the scenes shown in the photographs.