Dancing in the Shadows – at Annantalo

I’ve walked past Annantalo so many times and never stopped to wonder what it is. Turns out – it’s great is what it is!


Annantalo is an arts centre for children and young people, housed in a beautiful old school that was built in 1886. Miko and I recently visited with friends on a rainy afternoon after daycare.


On the ground floor is the large Kirja Kahvila (book cafe) with loads of space for families and smaller tables set up with paper and colouring pencils. There’s also shelves full of childrens’ books, printed in Finnish and Swedish.


The cafe is also home to Tutti-tukaani (Pacifier Toucan) who sits atop a large bottle where children put their pacifiers when the time comes to give them up. The idea is based loosely on similar traditions in Finland and was dreamed up by the Office Manager.


The cafe is run by a lovely woman called Krista, who told me she loves all the handmade touches around Annantalo.


This includes the warm korvapuustit (cinammon buns) and the woollen covers on the tea glasses.



Upstairs in the building, there are art classes, as well as dance and theatre for young people. Miko’s daycare has visited in the past to watch a puppet show, which he still talks about.


There are also exhibitions for children, which are really creative and interactive. Miko loved going inside a big teepee and looking at tiny worlds inside boxes with a torch during the last one.


Although the cafe is family focussed it can be very quiet at times and there’s lots of space to spread out if you need to work. With wheelchair access it’s a great place for anyone to visit, young and old alike.

Annantalo – events and courses

Annankatu 30, Helsinki

Due to a bad dose of the flu there were no Vappu celebrations for me this year. The spring carnival on May Day is one of the biggest events on the Finnish calendar. You can read my post from last year here

7 thoughts on “Dancing in the Shadows – at Annantalo

  1. How wonderful that in 1886, Finns built such a beautiful and durable school, and that in Finland, such a building has been appreciated enough to be taken care and put to a related use, rather than demolished, when it was deemed no longer suitable for its original use. Many communities here have learned a similar appreciation of its architectural and cultural treasures, but only after so many were demolished or otherwise discarded without a thought (apparently) in the 1950s and 1960s. Thank you for this glimpse of the fascinating things now happening in Annantalo.


    • Well, they did destroy many of the old buildings in Helsinki too. Apparently they did quite a number of Turku in the 1960s, as it is considered to be the example of what not to do.
      It wouldn’t be that bad if they at least built something cool like jugendstil or national romatic style in their place, but no, they always have to build some blocky concrete element crap or a glass and steel monstrosity with simplistic geometric features to “liven it up”.


      • Yes, that is exactly the type of building I stayed in in Turku in the winter of 1969-70 (although the apartment had one touch [then largely limited to Finland, I believe] that I very much appreciated: heated tile floors in the bathroom). I must say that each time I emerged from spending one of the three big chunks of time I spent in Moscow in the 1970’s, even the new blocky concrete or glass and steel monstrosities in the cities of the U.S. or Turku looked decent compared to the Stalinist-era buildings in so much of Moscow.


  2. Pingback: An Insider’s Guide to Helsinki | Hey Helsinki

  3. Pingback: 101 reasons to visit Helsinki | Hey Helsinki

Your thoughts..

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s