Finland enjoys four distinct seasons. March heralds spring, when the days are becoming longer. In fact, by mid March the length of the day is longer than that in the UK. After 21 March, week by week, Finland steals a march on the rest of Europe by gaining many more hours of daylight. By the end of the month, it easily experiences 14 hours of daylight between sun up and sun down. These are the first days of spring. Although the days are longer and can be full of sunshine, the snow can still be knee deep! But with the sunshine, everything seems brighter and whiter and the promise of summer lies ahead.
April sees the days lengthen from 5:30 am to 10:00 pm. By May, the snow has disappeared. The days are long, but everywhere is still brown. There are no leaves on the trees and the grass is still dead, but the forests are filled with the first flowers of the year: a small white flower like our snowdrop. Everything is awaiting the new summer growth which will start appearing towards the end of the month. The length of the day has stretched to 19 hours.
In the far north of Finland, from mid May until late July, there is continual daylight. This is the land of the midnight sun. In Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle, the midnight sun lasts from 20 May until 20 of July. This means there is continual daylight because the sun is forever above the horizon. In central and southern Finland, “officially” there is no midnight sun because the sun does dip just below the horizon. However, the night never really grows dark. It is just dusk for an hour and a half. At this time, the sky will take on the most beautiful hues. To you and me, this is the midnight sun and the experience is truly awe inspiring. Breathtaking. Unbelievable.
More about Finland’s Climate
Overall, Finland’s climate is quite moderate without the extremes, when compared with other regions so far north. It is the northernmost country where wheat is grown. It is the second coldest country in the world with average mean temperature across the whole country and whole year of 1.5ºC/34.7ºF (Russia is the coldest with -5ºC/23ºF)
In June the leaves are out and the grass is green. Rhododendrons blossom and whither quickly, followed in quick succession by a multitude of different blooms. Window boxes are full of geraniums, bizzie lizzies and numerous other colourful flowers. As the days become ever longer, the richness and vibrancy of Finland’s slumbering beauty burst upon the landscape, accompanied by those skittish sorts of days.
During your initial visit to Finland, you may be surprised see the variety of flowering plants growing in tubs and gardens. For example you will never see all these plants flowering at the same time in England, but there season is much longer. Therefore, the balconies and marketplaces in Finland all look like miniflower festivals.
Compared with Siberia, Greenland and Alaska (with their extremes), the Finnish climate is relatively warm. This is due to the warming effect of the Baltic Sea and the winds from the Gulf Stream. In summer, you can experience hot spells, around 28ºC (82.4ºF) or 30ºC (86ºF). However, the temperature can be as low as 10ºC (50ºF) at times. When the weather is hot, it is, of course, very humid. The weather is very unstable in Finland and, rather like the UK, you can never tell from one day to the next what the weather will be like. Therefore, it is always advisable to have raincoats and cardigans with you.
By mid August, the days are already beginning to be noticeably shorter. No longer does the evening twilight merge straight into the half-light of morning. By the beginning of September, the leaves are already turning. Autumn arrives early in Finland, but the temperature is quite similar to autumn in England. When you visit Finland in autumn, you will see the beautiful colourings of the trees in the vast forests. Finland is a country not only pine trees, there are also a lot birch trees which gave life to these wonderful colours: red, yellow, orange, gold. This special period is called Ruska. The autumn equinox takes place on 23 September, and from then on the days are getting significantly shorter, week by week.
Autumn is the time for cloudberries and mushrooms, walking in the forests and picking nature’s fruits. You have the right to pick the fruits of the forest and sell them tax-free.
With the longer, darker nights come darker and drab days. The first snow that appears in October is a welcome sight. Everyone rejoices. The whiteness and brightness of the snow adds lucidity to the days, and winter can truly be said to have arrived. It will snow now until the end of March, with every fresh fall layering upon the previous until the snow is immeasurably deep. In Lapland, the snow may arrive in September and stay until late June. In Helsinki, in the south, some of the snow will melt away before another fresh layer falls. The winters are cold and the temperature can rise or fall dramatically from one day to the next.
Temperature in Finland changeable, today it -7ºC (19.4ºF), in overnight the temperature can drop to -32ºC (-25.6ºF). Although by any measurement the temperature is cold, the climate is very dry and, provided you are wrapped up warmly, the cold doesn’t penetrate into your bones like the cold and damp in England. The cold is so dry that you continually have to apply cream to your hands, lips and face. This dryness is the cause of a great amount of static electricity. Your hair will stand on end, even with a good dose of hair conditioner, and you will forever receive little electric shocks.
But winter is a magical time in Finland. The snow is absolutely beautiful. When the temperature falls to -10ºC (14ºF), each flake of snow freezes as an individual entity. The light from the street lamps, shining down, makes it look as if you are walking through a field full of sparkling diamonds. Each snowflake twinkles in its own way, with its own colour, and as you walk you can hear the crisp sound of crunching under your feet. For anyone who hasn’t experienced this, it is as though you were walking on glass crystals and crushing them under foot.
In the far north of Finland, from 22 November to 20 January, the half-light of morning seeps immediately into the twilight of the evening. This is known as the polar night. In Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle, there will be about two hours of daylight. By about 1:30, whatever daylight there has been slips into a twilight called blue time. In December in southern Finland, daylight comes about 9:30 and begins to retreat at 3:00. However, by the end of January, the days are noticeably drawing out.
The coldest temperature, -50ºC (-58ºF), was measured in Salla, Lapland, in 1985. The highest temperature was recorded in Turku in 1914, which was 36ºC (96.8ºF).
The Kuopio city centre in mid-winter. The roads are well maintained despite the abundance of snow during the Finnish winter.
In country is very pleasant to live in, but most foreigners don’t know it. They think it is an impossible place because of its far northern position. Instead, Finland has an astonishingly mild climate with no real extremes (compared to USA, Canada, Asia, Africa: no earthquakes, no hurricanes, practically no heavy snowstorms, no real heat), a climate better than UK or Ireland because of the true seasons, wonderful summer, lots of space, water and nature.