Buicks, Cadillacs and Chevrolets. The first Friday of every summer month, Helsinki Market Square turns into a paradise for classic and vintage car enthusiasts. As a motorsport-loving nation, many Finns are passionate about cars and cruising events have been a big part of the culture for decades. Helsinki Cruising, also referred to as Stadin Cruising, is an over 30-year-old cruising event that continues to draw both interesting vehicles and hoards of car enthusiasts to the city centre. Here’s a quick blog post about what to expect and how to see this event.
A Taste of Old Times in Helsinki
Photo: Lovely electric blue colour on this Chevrolet.
It’s a little over 6 pm this Friday evening in August and the vendors at Helsinki Market Square are packing up their tents. The square grows emptier and emptier, but it won’t stay deserted for long. In just two hours it will be jam-packed with both cars and people.
At 7 pm the characteristic growling, roaring and rumbling of old car engines can be heard in the distance. One by one they start showing up at the Market Square. Yellow, turquoise, baby blue, red, and white beauties fill up spot after spot. By 8 pm there’s no room left and the cars that show up have to settle for a quick lap around the square before driving off.
Traditional Car Get-Together in the City Centre
Photo: Checking out the cars at Helsinki Market Square is free, so it’s great for budget-travellers.
Helsinki Cruising, or Stadin Cruising as it’s more commonly referred to, is one of the busiest gatherings of cars. Although all kinds of cars participate, the cruising is most known for the old classic and vintage – even antique – cars that join in.
The roots of the event stretch way back: Helsinki Cruising has been organised for over 30 years. It takes place the first Friday of each new month during the summer season.
The cars that participate in the event start by gathering at Helsinki Malmi Airport at 5 pm. From there, they drive to the city centre, arriving at the Helsinki Market Square by 8 pm. As the space is so limited, many will arrive way earlier, to make sure their car gets a spot.
Cruising – A Popular Pastime in Finland
Photo: Even antique automobiles can be spotted at Helsinki Cruising.
During the past few years, there’s been a lot of discussion in Finland about the environmental issues with driving and cars. However, for many Finns, especially outside of the capital region where public transportation is limited or non-existent, the right to drive and own a car is holy. Any attempt by the government – or anyone else for that matter – to reduce driving is met with great indignation by many Finns.
The love for cars is displayed in many ways. First of all, Finland is known for being a motorsport nation, especially in Formula 1 Finland has won several World Championships. Secondly, for such a small country, we have a lot of cars. Finland’s around 5 million citizens own a staggering 3,5 million cars. In light of these statistics it’s perhaps not surprising that different car events are popular in Finland.
Cruising events, social happenings during which a group of people gather to drive cars, have been a big part of the culture for decades. The largest cruising events can attract even thousands of cars!
Helsinki Cruising is not the largest in number of cars that participate, as the space is pretty limited. However, thanks to its central location, it’s one of the easiest ones to visit if you’re staying in Helsinki. Thousands of people flock to the square to admire the beauties on display and mingle with other car enthusiasts.
What To Expect
Photo: By 8 pm the square is full.
If you’re planning on visiting this event, make sure you’re prepared for the hustle and bustle that comes with it. There’s always a huge crowd, engines roaring and the smell of fumes in the air.
With that said if you love vintage, antique and classic cars this is definitely the place for you. From Buick Rivieras, Chevrolet Corvettes and Ford Mustangs to Ferraris – you never know what cars you’ll spot! Many of the car owners will be happy to chat to you about their car – a great opportunity for car enthusiasts to learn more and meet like-minded people.
Photo: The Nash Metropolitan was sold from 1953 to 1961.
Photo: Once all the spots on the square are filled, some will park their classic cars nearby, like the driver of this Ford Mustang chose to do.
How and When to Visit
Photo: A boat-tail Buick Riviera from the 1970’s.
This is perhaps one of the easiest car events to be a part of in the centre of Helsinki. You can drop in whenever you please; it’s totally free and open for everyone. The crowd that gathers is extremely diverse – tourists, locals, couples, kids, photographers, young people and old people. There are a lot of car enthusiasts, but many visit just for the fun of it – in other words don’t worry if you know nothing about cars!
Helsinki Cruising takes place only once a month, so make sure you take this into account when planning your visit. It’s organised the first Friday of each new month during summer. The first cruising of the season is usually in May and the last one is in September. However, this can vary from year to year depending on weather.
The first cars show up after 7 pm, but the best time to visit is at around 8 pm. Sometimes the cars will stay for hours, but this depends on for example weather. So if you want to make sure you don’t miss the cars, I suggest arriving no later than 8.30 pm.
Photo: Eager car enthusiasts getting acquainted with the V8 engine.
Photo: A red Chevrolet nestled in between two more modern vehicles. As this isn’t a private event, modern cars can’t be forbidden to park on the square during the event. But there have been complaints in the event’s Facebook group about the fact that modern cars are taking up the already limited space, leading to numerous classics not being able to find a spot.
Here are the most important facts in a nutshell:
- Helsinki Cruising is a car event organised once a month during summer.
- The event takes place at around 8 pm, the first Friday of the month.
- Helsinki Cruising also goes under the name Stadin Cruising.
- The cars gather at Helsinki Market Square, in the centre of Helsinki.
- Both newer and older cars participate, but the event is most known for the classic and vintage cars it attracts.