Baltic Sea Action Summit
Baltic Sea Action Summit
Message of responsibility delivered by dancing and singing

Turku 2011 challenges the people of the Baltic nations to light bonfires in respect to our shared sea

The Night of Ancient Bonfires marks the end of the summer and brings people together to join in cheerful celebrations. The Turku 2011 Foundation, currently preparing for the Capital of Culture year 2011, pledges to introduce a new aspect to the festivities. The aim is to bring people from the Baltic countries together in a joint chain of bonfires as an effort to look out for the well-being of the Baltic Sea. The pledge is one of the commitments given at the Baltic Sea Action Summit.

Since the celebration marking the 75th anniversary of Finland’s independence in 1992, the western coastal areas in Finland have celebrated the Night of Ancient Bonfires. During the last night of August, fires are set off in the archipelago, bidding the summer goodbye and celebrating one last time together with neighbours and villagers by the fire, dancing and singing.

The Night of Ancient Bonfires is celebrated to some extent also in Estonia, other southern coastal areas and the Stockholm archipelago. Now, the Sydkustens Landskapsförbund rf association that originated the festivities and the Turku 2011 Foundation hope that the tradition spreads further in the nations by the Baltic Sea with its new, profound meaning.

Nearly 130 pledges given for the Baltic Sea

The Turku 2011 Foundation has given the Baltic Sea Action Summit a pledge to promote a model in which the bonfires and festivities are associated with a promise of concrete actions to save and protect the Baltic Sea. One or more Heads of State are requested to provide a message that is presented by the fires in all Baltic languages by reading, singing, dancing or in other ways.

This message is supplemented with promises from individuals, collected through the web site. The web site provides a map template for listing bonfire locations in advance. So, for the first time ever on August 27th, 2011 at 9 p.m. Finnish time, bonfires are set off on a virtual map simultaneously as live bonfires light up the coastlines.

In 2011, Turku is the European Capital of Culture together with another city by the Baltic Sea, Tallinn. The Night of Ancient Bonfires coincides with one of the highlights of the Capital of Culture year 2011. The Elements spectacle is presented on August 27th, displaying a great public celebration of circus and fire on and above the Aurajoki River.

The cities of Turku and Helsinki have a long track record of protecting the Baltic Sea. After the Mayors’ initiatives, the cities made a shared commitment in June 2007 to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. Protecting the Baltic Sea is included in the strategic programme for both cities.

The Baltic Sea Action Summit, organised at Finlandia Hall on February 10th, 2010, is a joint initiative by the President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and the Baltic Sea Action Group. The purpose of the Summit is to bring together public, private and third-sectororganisationsoperating in the region and willing to commit to concrete actions for the Baltic Sea.The investments made by the organisations can have a direct or an indirect relationship to the improvement process of the Baltic Sea. Currently, there are about 130 businesses, officialorganisations or foundations that have pledged their help.

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