Helsinki is quite the samba city even though you may have a hard time imagining it. Every year, now for over 20 years, there is a big samba carnival right in the center of Helsinki - held following the same traditions and rules as in the all-mighty Rio de Janeiro. With the small exception that the Helsinki Samba Carnival (HSC) is held the first or second Saturday of June, as it would be quite too cold to do it in February-March!
The carnival is the main event of the year for any samba dancer. Samba schools from all over Finland arrive to the event and actually take the whole thing quite seriously, after all the parade is a competition with best school crowned as the samba champion of the year. The moment the parade starts all hundreds of hours of planning, costume making, choreography rehearsals, stress and worries fade away - and the Brazilian party begins! Thousands of dancers take over the streets with tens of thousands of spectators cheering them along the way.
This year was the first time I was around to see the parade! I've been dancing in the HSC parade with G.R.E.S. Império do Papagaio twice - but now was my chance to just watch and enjoy. It was so much fun to cheer for all my samba friends, to see everybody's smiles and look at the beautiful costumes & floats. And I was even more thrilled to hear Papagaio won the parade this year! I have hundreds of pictures from the carnival and I will spare you - here are just a couple pics of the whole lot:
If you're interested in starting a samba hobby, to learn a little samba no pé (girls and guys!), perhaps even to perform, to make beautiful costumes, or learn how to play samba instruments and join the band... then go take a look at your local samba school. In Helsinki I would recommend Papagaio and for other schools around Finland get in touch with the Association of Samba Schools in Finland.