We went into town unexpectedly this week. If we need to do shopping we usually go to one of the big malls on the outskirts of town as there's less trouble parking and getting around. But we needed to pick up some ballet gear and I only know of one shop which is in the centre near the Chief's work. So since we had to go in and we have my mum visiting we decided to make a day of it and meet the Chief for lunch and find the kids something to do to make up for the boring-for-everyone-but-the-ballet-girl shopping trip.
The schools are out for summer and while most children's activities in Helsinki tend to stop in July there are still a few things going on around the city.
Annantalo is where we ended up just because it was near our other plans. It turned out to be a good choice. Annantalo is a small cultural centre that focuses on art and children's activities. It has a small, basic cafe with a book corner that has books in Finnish, Swedish and English and maybe some other languages. They often feature a book series or author in the artwork in the cafe and have examples of their books to read. Onni-Poika by Sanna Pellicioni is the current one.
It has one big exhibition area that has changing exhibits that are usually interactive. And it runs art classes throughout the year.
This summer we discovered their Kesäparkki which takes advantage of the garden in front of the building. Open until the end of June, they have made the perfect place for kids to burn off some steam and for parents to relax. They have a dressing up tent, hammocks, obstacle course and other activities.
Unfortunately the weather hasn't been very nice for the past week, so we didn't really explore the park much, just went straight inside. I can't find info about the exhibit we visited but it was surreal for us adults but perfect for the kids. You walked in the door through a mouth with strange eyes above it and red hands hanging down like uvulas. Everything was focussed around body parts, but they were all random and odd looking.
Kids could climb on a crochet eye on a cone that rolled around or lie on a kidney. There was a wall of ears, a single breast on the other wall, a rolling tongue and a strange flat body that you could bounce on. The kids loved it. It was all soft and kind of haphazardly and roughly made, so there was no worry of kids ripping or breaking things. It already looked like some things had been repaired with stitches that fit in with the theme.
In the back there was another room that seemed totally unconnected from the body theme. Question words in Finnish were painted on the wall, it was dark and in the centre lit with blue light was a pool full of what appeared to be cut up foil crisp and sweets packages which made large glitter. Again a big hit, so much so that we went back after lunch with the Chief.
They also had a balloon-decorating craft area at the back of the cafe that entertained the crafty Bump for a while.
The Kesäparkki looked like a good pitstop for any long visit to town with kids, if it isn't cold and windy, and Annantalo has always offered lots of fun for whenever we visited.
I have several other posts waiting in the wings, but I wanted to get this one out asap as it is a limited-time event.
See below for links to more reviews of activities for families in Finland. Enjoy.