Lahti Fringe Festival brings artists from around the world to Finland

An EU-funded project in Lahti, Finland, oversaw the development of a concept and customer service model to support the year-round implementation of urban cultural events. These elements were piloted through the organisation of the first Lahti Fringe Festival, which took place from 29 August to 1 September 2018 and showcased the city to an international audience. The concept, and the network built under the project, were further developed as part of work on the second Lahti Fringe Festival, held from 4-7 September 2019.

Additional tools

The 2018 Lahti Fringe Festival. ©Lahti University of Applied Sciences/Konsta Partanen (2018) The 2018 Lahti Fringe Festival. ©Lahti University of Applied Sciences/Konsta Partanen (2018)

" The project developed a concept and a year-round service model for urban culture events in Lahti by piloting a new culture and arts event: the Lahti Fringe Festival. "

Ulla Saarela, project manager, Lahti University of Applied Sciences

Some 150 artists from 10 EU countries plus Australia, China, Norway and the USA took part in the 2018 Lahti Fringe Festival, which brought productions from a variety of organisers together under a single banner. There were 30 concerts, 8 art exhibitions, 13 theatre performances, 13 circus and dance performances and a football match.

Part of the Nordic Fringe Network, the festival was held across 60 venues, 9 small business premises and a shopping centre. Eleven cafeterias were open to visitors and a campus radio station covered proceedings.

A broad-based network

To be successful, urban cultural events need the backing of and cooperation between a wide network of local actors, including municipal authorities, businesses, residents, schools, universities and associations. The concept is thus based on the idea of network-driven, user-designed events which capitalise on Lahti’s strengths to reinforce a sense of urban identity. It consists of an operational model, network mapping and a proposal for the management of the 2019 event.

Comprising electronic platforms for communication, marketing and project management, the customer service model supports the event concept by facilitating smooth cooperation between stakeholders. The main challenge in setting it up was coordinating and ensuring compatibility between the various technologies and services used.

A template for success

The 2018 festival served as a testing platform to determine the scope of the network, the staff and the other resources required for urban cultural events. Timely communication and marketing played an important role in providing visibility for the large and varied city-wide programme among different target groups.

Lahti now has a documented operational model that can be easily deployed to ensure the availability of the necessary resources for all kinds of events, including those held at street or community level, all year round. It is hoped that urban cultural events will become a prominent feature of daily life in the city and that the Lahti Fringe Festival will keep evolving, expanding and attracting visitors to the area.

The event concept and cooperation network will continue to be developed as the various actors build on the know-how they have acquired. In the case of the service model, the experience gained from the project is helping to fine-tune cooperation, particularly via electronic channels, within the network.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “LAFF - Lahti Fringe Festival” is EUR 100 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 70 000 through the “Sustainable growth and jobs” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and innovation”.