Helsinki Looks Toward 2012

Travel Agent attended a luncheon with the City of Helsinki Tourist & Convention Bureau May 18, where we learned that Helsinki has been named the World Design Capital for 2012.

Also coming up in 2012, Helsinki will be celebrating its bicentennial as the capital of Finland. A new Music Centre is in the works (to be completed in 2011) and sports fans won't want to miss the Ice Hockey World Cup held April-May 2012.

A new cruise line, the St. Petersburg Line, will be coming to Helsinki aboard the m/v Princess Maria, which offers 606 cabins and offers visa-free cruises from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, Russia. Visit www.stpeterline.com.

We also learned that a new and improved train service will be implemented from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. Currently two daily trains run the five-and-a-half hour route. But as of 2011 a faster train service will cut the travel time down to three and a half hours.

Helsinki is made up of 315 islands and is easily accessible from the U.S., being an eight-hour flight from New York City.

The World Design Capital award is a biennial designation given to one city at a time and conferred by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. A new title, the designation was given to Turin in 2008 and Seoul in 2010.

The award is given to a city that uses design as a means to bring a city together  and improve it socially, culturally and economically.

The program is open to all citizens and visitors of Helsinki who wish to help shape the city's design. The World Design Capital 2012 website will be open to suggestions for program items and opinions on plans during 2010.

Visit www.visithelsinki.fi.

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