Finnish capital lights up in winter dark

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland's capital is aglow with colorful lights and lasers piercing the black winter skies and lighting up downtown buildings providing a much-needed burst of illumination during the darkest days of the year.

Light and sound installations at the Helsinki Lux Festival brought crowds at the city landmarks joined by lanterns hanging in trees along a path of light bordering the frozen Baltic Sea through parks and on city sidewalks, where the shortest period of daylight in midwinter is about five hours long.

The path meanders through an old railway tunnel along a new bicycle and pedestrian lane where movements of those passing by are projected in a light show cast onto a wall of granite blocks below the Parliament building, accompanied to music.

Nearby, groups of people stamp their feet in freezing temperatures staring into the Sodium Sun, a collection of glaring orange-yellow strip lights that seemingly emit a hum that swirls across the square.

Markku Uimonen, the artistic director of the festival, says the aim is to provide light to people in the Nordic night.

"I think we need light. We need more light," Uimonen said. "Helsinki has made great improvements with urban planning and lighting during the years, but we still feel that this kind of light festival is important so that people can actually come and see the light, not just live in the night."

In midwinter, the shortest period of daylight in Helsinki is about five hours long.

Off the central Senate Square, surrounded by the university and government buildings,the plain white Lutheran Cathedral has been turned into a backdrop of a production called Emergence, where spectators see and hear waves crashing onto the church with patterns and textures weaving colors that change and highlight different parts of the building.

The 1952 summer games Olympic Stadium is also illuminated with rainbow colors and a green laser shooting a beam over the city from its tower.

The five-day festival, which ends Tuesday, includes works by artists from Germany, France, Britain and Hong Kong as well as Finland.

  • Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners 5 minutes ago
    Peeling out at Octane Academy, the free driving school for Ford ST owners

    Buyers of Ferraris or Jaguars are used to perks from manufacturers – including racetrack lessons to help master their exotic machines. But for enthusiasts on a tighter budget, the Ford ST Octane Academy might be the sweetest deal in motoring: Buy a Ford Fiesta ST or Focus ST hatchback, and the reward is a free day of training at one of America’s longest, most-lavish road courses.

  • Why you can't buy America's greenest car 3 hours ago
    Why you can't buy America's greenest car

    Ask me or any auto expert what's the fastest car you can buy for any given amount, and we could easily cough up several options. Same for most luxurious, or off-roadable, or any other measurement. Yet there's one type of question that's far harder to answer: What's the greenest, most environmentally friendly car you can buy today?

  • Audi TT Offroad concept debuts as a 124-mpg hybrid with wireless charging 4 hours ago
    Audi TT Offroad concept debuts as a 124-mpg hybrid with wireless charging

    The TT. Audi's diminutive sports car. Since production began in 1998, the two-door coupe has aged with the pugnacity of a grizzled New Yorker, but not in size. And why would it, as the arrival of the TT RS proved, adding some grit makes for a rather captivating dish. And so you'll excuse us for being puzzled by the Audi TT Offroad concept.

  • Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia
    Pirates kidnap three on Singapore tanker off Malaysia

    Armed pirates boarded a Singapore-managed oil tanker in the Strait of Malacca, kidnapping three Indonesian crew and stealing some of the vessel's shipment of diesel fuel, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday. The attack occurred early Tuesday off Malaysia's west coast, said Noel Choong, head of IMB's Kuala Lumpur-based piracy reporting centre. The diesel oil tanker was believed to be en route to Myanmar. "IMB is aware of the attack on the Singapore-managed ship in the Malacca Straits.

  • McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania
    McDonald's Hello Kitty sale site temporarily suspended due to fresh wave of Kitty mania

    It may not be safe to enter a McDonald’s restaurant in Singapore on Mondays starting 28 April. To celebrate the iconic Japanese character Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, the fast food chain announced last Friday that it would be releasing a new collection of Hello Kitty toys in McDonald’s restaurants island wide next Monday.

  • First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy
    First sign of S.Korea ferry disaster was call from a frightened boy

    He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number, a fire service officer told Reuters.