Nurmes – European City of Carols

Nurmes was declared European City of Carols by decision of Nurmes City Council in 2009. Before this, the Regional Council of North Karelia had approved its status as Finland’s City of Carols.

The City of Carols concept consists of four elements: a Christmas play (Immanuel), a series of concerts and other events (Music for Christmas Nurmes), a carol archive and a Happy Christmas message to all children in Finland. Music for Christmas Nurmes serves a varied feast of Christmassy music. First held in 1993, it has since become an annual event. The Artistic Director is Jussi Merikanto.

During Music for Christmas Nurmes, the European City of Carols echoes to the strains of seasonal music for about one month from the first Sunday in Advent. Most of the events are held in the Nurmes (Hannikainen) Hall and the two Nurmes churches. The message from pupils in Nurmes junior schools to all children in Finland is, like the carol concerts in the churches, a traditional element of Music for Christmas Nurmes. Most of the events are open to all free of charge.

Three national competitions for the composition of new carols have been held as part of Music for Christmas Nurmes, in 1994, 1999 and 2004.

Music for Christmas Nurmes is sponsored by the City of Nurmes and local businesses: Pielisen Osuuspankki, Jukolan Osuuskauppa, Pohjois-Karjalan Sähkö and Nurmeksen Lämpö.