Opening Helsinki’s festival summer in Suvilahti, World Village Festival has released its entire music lineup and some of the key speakers. This year, the free festival is themed on a Force for Change. How music can be a force for change is shown by the likes of Israeli-Persian singer Liraz and Ukrainian-Canadian Balaklava Blues. Big Finnish names taking the stage are Von Hertzen Brothers, Jesse Markin, Yeboyah, Ilta and Megasakki. Key speakers include activists Helena Gualinga and Winnie Masai.
Taking place during the last weekend of May (27–28 May 2023), World Village Festival is back in full form and scale again and now organised for the first time in Suvilahti, Helsinki. In the past three springs, the festival was either cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic or organised virtually or on a smaller scale.
– World Village Festival offers a variety of experiences, opportunities to immerse yourself in societal themes and, of course, to enjoy good music and food as well as the unique atmosphere. We want to encourage individuals as well as communities to act as a force for change for sustainable development, equality and free civil society in a world of increasing inequality and injustice, says World Village Festival Communications Manager Nelli Korpi.
The force for change at the festival will be generated by concerts, dozens of talks and discussions, kids’ programme and 200 exhibitors from CSOs to public authorities and food and bazaar vendors. Workshops and performers in the Street Art Area will also help to ensure a great atmosphere. The free event is expected to attract around 50,000 festivalgoers.
Power of influence through music
One of the headliners of this year’s World Village Festival is Israeli-Persian singer-songwriter Liraz, whose 2018 debut album, Naz, has had a powerful impact. Pop songs written by female singers in pre-revolution Iran and performed by Liraz inspired women to send her videos of themselves dancing in their homes, with their headscarves and veils cast off, and musicians to send her music via encrypted files. Liraz collaborated on her second album, Zan, with anonymous Iranian songwriters and musicians, working online, keeping secret from Tehran’s religious leaders and secret police. Liraz’s third and most recent album, Roya (Glitterbeat, 2022), was recorded face to face regardless of the presence of fear and danger. Liraz’s music has made her a beacon for the women’s rights movement.
Taking a stand on human rights and on the war in Ukraine, Balaklava Blues fuses Ukrainian folk traditions with electronic dance music. Mark and Marichka Marczyk first met during the Maidan Revolution in Kyiv in 2014 and, ever since, they have dedicated their creative energy to telling the whole world stories about their home country and the violence it is being subjected to. World Village Festival and the co-producer of the concert, festival main partner Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, wish to support Ukraine and remind everyone amidst the global crises that there is also a war going on in Europe.
Finnish artists from rap to R&B and from prog to pop
Also performing at World Village Festival are singer-songwriter Jesse Markin, who will always take the stage with great flair, rap artist Yeboyah, who raises debate on women’s rights and racism, as well as Von Hertzen Brothers, who play progressive rock with psychedelic elements and whose 2022 album, Red Alert in the Blue Forest, takes a stand for the conservation of nature and old-growth forests.
Winner of Children’s Music of the Year at the 2023 Emma Awards, Megasakki provides the audience with rhythmic music and catchy lyrics. Hugely skilled at conveying emotions, Ilta is determined to provide her listeners with what she has received from music: a medium for dealing with life’s joys and sorrows. Ilta will also take part in the talks and discussions programme produced by Fida International on child marriages and how they can be prevented.
Activists Helena Gualinga and Winnie Masai sharing stories of change
One of the most interesting keynote speakers of the festival is young environmental activist Helena Gualinga, who has appeared at many international climate conferences but more rarely in Finland. Known as an impressive speaker, Gualinga, aged 21, grew up in Finland and in the Kichwa Sarayaku community in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Gualinga believes in change and in humanity not being separate from nature. The programme is produced by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The KIOS Foundation of NGOs for human rights is the producer of festival programme where Kenyan human rights activist and head of InformAction, Winnie Masai, is interviewed by award-winning journalist Liselott Lindström, who has years of experience as an Africa correspondent.
World Village Festival will release more talks and discussions programme on 4 April and the kids’ programme, exhibitors and maps on 20 April.