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Saunas, Sibelius and cinnamon buns: it’s the best of Finnish London

By Time Out London contributor

The films of the great Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki portray his countrymen as rather quiet and unassuming. We don’t like to make too much noise about ourselves: like our F1 hero Kimi Räikkönen, we let actions speak louder than words. But Finns ain’t what they used to be: thanks to Nokia (yes, Finnish!) we are now much better at small talk.

There are thousands of Finns living in London, each doing their own thing. But there’s plenty of chat on the 7,000-strong Finnish People Living In London Facebook page, and a couple of times a year we get together en masse to vent our patriotic feelings. After football, ice hockey is Finland’s most popular sport, and each May hundreds of Finns dressed in blue and white jerseys flock to the Famous Three Kings pub in West Kensington to cheer on our team against our neighbours and arch rivals Sweden and Russia at the Ice Hockey World Championships. Ilpo Musto

Did you know? Finland marks 100 years as an independent nation in December and there are celebrations in London too. Check out the Finnish embassy’s events calendar.

Ilpo’s favourite Finnish spots in London

The annual Christmas Bazaar at the Finnish Church in Rotherhithe is the most popular Finnish event in London. Ruisleipä (rye bread), karjalanpiirakka (karelian pies) and korvapuusti (cinnamon buns) will go like actual hot cakes, so do get there early!

Feel the 90C heat this winter in the Finnish sauna on the rooftop of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Finns do it in the nude, but here swimming costumes are compulsory.

The Nordic Bakery was founded by the Finnish ex-ice hockey player Jali Wahlsten ten years ago. There are now four branches, all with Scandinavian food and stylish décor.

‘Lake Keitele’, the 1904 expressionist painting by the Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, has been part of the National Gallery’s collection since 1999. Now the painter is getting his first UK solo exhibition.

Discover the life and art of Moomin creator Tove Jansson at Dulwich Picture Gallery this winter, or pick up some Moomin merch at The Moomin Shop in Covent Garden.

Want to hear some Finnish sounds? Catch Von Hertzen Brothers at The Garage this Thursday, Verneri Pohjola’s jazz quintet at the Southbank Centre on Sunday, and see Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting Sibelius at the Royal Festival Hall on December 7, including his mighty ‘Finlandia’.

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