Tampere Festival of Light was launched in 1966. In the early 60’s the Mayor of Tampere Erkki Lindfors had acquainted himself with the corresponding event in Essen, a twin city of Tampere, and fell in love with the athmosphere it created. On December 6th 1965 Tampere Tunnetuksi association was founded in order to start organising Tampere Festival of Light. The first Tampere Festival of Light was three weeks long.
The opening ceremony was carefully prepared. Turning the lights on was a thrilling and impressive moment. The city centre of Tampere was crowded with people. The opening ceremony included speeches, a march and, of course, admiring the light figures.
Most of the light figures for the first Tampere Festival of Light were brought to Tampere from Essen. Some of the figures were manufactured by Tampereen Sähkölaitos. The circus horse light figures were first seen at the Tampere Festival of Light in 1967. The next year the selection was extended with forest animals and two years later with snowflakes.
Tampere’s novelty was widely promoted in Helsinki, for example, and those who traveled to the Tampere Festival of Light received a discount on train ticket prices from VR. The event was a great success and the positive impact on the centre’s trade was immediately visible.
Photo by Reino Branthin: The first light figures are being installed on 11.9.1966.
For decades, electing a Maiden of Light was also a part of the Festival. Every year, a warm-hearted woman was chosen as the Maiden of Light to bring warmth and joy to Tampere’s winter.
Photo by Raimo Nieminen: Miss Festival of Light 1977 Maija Latvalahti and her runner-ups.