For its 12th and long-awaited conference, Culture Next heads north, well north. In February 2020, we were prepared to head to Oulu, at the time a candidate city for the ECOC title, when a global pandemic caused the conference to be canceled just 2 days before its start. The pandemic is over, Oulu was the city chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2026 and Culture Next grew.

Conference agenda

February 28

Wednesday | @Oulu2026 office, address: Torikatu 18

09:00-12:00 | SDG meeting with the pilot cities (for cities participating in the project)
12:00-13:00 | Lunch at Cafe Antell Piha (at the same location)
13:00-16:00 | SDG meeting part 2
16:00-18:00 | Free time
18:00 | Welcoming words, drinks & dinner (all participants | location TBD)


February 29

Thursday | @Oulu Art Museum, Kasarmintie 9, Satula space

Public day – open for local actors

09:00-09:30 | Reception and Welcome coffee
09:30-11:45 | Welcoming words

  • Roll Calls: who is participating in the Conference and who are the new cities attending
  • Presentation from Oulu2026: Cultural Climate Change
  • New Member Cities Presentations

11:45-12:00 | Walk to lunch (served at next venue)
12:00-13:00 | Lunch (location: Nordic Art Hotel Lasaretti, Kasarmintie 13b)

Together with Oulu2026 Academy:

13:00-13:15 | State of the Network: Stefan Teişanu (Secretary General, Culture Next)
13.15-14:00 | Keynote: Andrew Melchior (CTO at Massive Attack)
14:00-14:45 | City Pitches (Cities participating in the conference and wishing to present a project, looking for partners for those projects, should register for pitch in the conference registration form)
14:45-15:00 | Coffee break
15:00-16:15 | Matchmaking session with local actors
16:15-16:30 | Reflections of the day 
16:30-17:45 | Free time
17:45 | Departure from hotel
18:00 | Polar Bear Pitching, the coolest startup event in the world, followed by dinner and After Party. In the Polar Bear Pitching we will be watching, not participating.


March 01

Friday | @Cultural Centre Valve, Hallituskatu 7, Valvesali hall

Internal day

09:00-09:15 | Morning walk from the hotel to the conference venue
09:15-09:30 | Welcome Coffee
09:30-10:00 | Presenting the Oulu City Cultural Services 
10:00-13:00 | Next on Culture Next 

  • SGD Pilot Project
  • Communication strategy
  • Thematic Working Groups
  • Mobility Program
  • Members update
  • Creative Europe Grant

13:00-14:00 |  Lunch (Valve, Restaurant Paljetti)
14:00-15:30 | ECoC Therapy Sessions (4 groups: Bidding Cities, Implementation, Legacy and cities that did not win the title, known among us as “proud losers”)
15:30-16:00 | Final Conclusions and Next Steps
16:00 | End of the official program

The time between the place where the conference ends and the airport is around 15 Km and by taxi it takes around 25 minutes. 

Optional programme and incentives for the ones staying for Friday evening and the weekend:

16:00-17:45 | Free time or Art Goes Afterwork at Cultural Centre Valve 
17:45 | Bus transportation leaves from Hotel Scandic Oulu City (sharp)
18:00-22:00 | Pehkolanlampi Sauna Evening, hosted by City of Oulu (at Pehkolanlampi Guest House, Peräkyläntie 225)

There is a possibility to have a traditional Finnish sauna during the evening (separate saunas and changing rooms for women and men). In that case you can bring along your own bathing suit or have a sauna without it (the Finnish style). Everything else needed for sauna and washing can be found on site, incl. towels, soap, shampoo, etc. During the evening, traditional salmon soup and schnapps are served.  


March 02

Saturday | @Nallikari beach, Oulu & Restaurant Nallikari (~4 km from the hotel

Optional day

12:00-14:00 | Arctic Pulse kick-off at Restaurant Nallikari. Network of Northern Scandinavia’s music and culture scenes. Enjoy the dj gig of Sami Collective – and why not a nice sauna/jacuzzi in the arctic surroundings. 

From 14:00 onwards: Frozen People Festival – Frozen People is a festival of electronic music and northern art held at Nallikari in Oulu. The event defies the weather conditions during the winter on the frozen waters of the Bothnian Bay. The frozen sea provides the brutal and unique Arctic conditions for the world’s most chilling dances, art experiences, arctic foods and beverages. Free of charge.

23:00-04:00 | The Festival’s After Sea – after event will be held at Valve Cultural Centre, Hallituskatu 7, in the center of Oulu.

Practical information

Weather conditions

The average temperature at the end of February is typically around -2…-12 Celsius. Due to occasionally strong wind, the weather might feel much colder.   

What to pack with you (the winter essentials): Warm gloves, a beanie, a scarf, wool socks, good and weather-appropriate shoes, and a thick & warm jacket.  

For the sauna & jacuzzi (and ice holes): Swimwear. Towels are not necessary (usually provided on site, and of course at the hotel).

How to dress (wintertime): It’s good to always check the day’s weather forecast before heading out so you’ll know exactly how to dress to be as comfortable and as warm as possible. Our best advice is to dress for the likeliest weather and to wear layers that you can take off or add on, when needed (pack spare layers of clothing in your bag / backpack).

Local weather forecast:  

NOTE: If you don’t have suitable winter clothes of your own, it is also possible to rent winter outerwear for your stay. If this option interests you, please contact Monika:

Getting from the airport to the Hotel

For your transfer from Oulu airport to city center, you can use either public transport (bus) or taxi: 

BUS number 8 and 9, a direct bus route between Airport – city center (~35 minutes).  

    • Bus stops in the city near the hotel are (both stops 150 meters / 2 min walk from the hotel):  
    • Bus nr. 8 stops at “Rotuaari” bus stop 
    • Bus nr. 9 stops at “Elokuvakeskus” bus stop 

Check the Journey Planner and the bus timetables on OSL website (Oulu Regional Transport): 

The single-way ticket costs 2,05 €, which can be paid on the bus with debit/credit card’s contactless payment feature (Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Eurocard debit cards and on the mobile payment apps Google Pay and Apple Pay). Your credit/debit card works as your personal bus ticket (you won’t get a ticket on the bus when you tap to pay).  You may see all your travel charges and print out a receipt from Littlepay online service with your payment card details, which are visible online for 90 days. 

TAXI from airport to the hotel – Taxis are lined outside the airport entrance. The cost from the airport to the hotel in the city center is typically around 40 €. 

All taxis accept credit cards.

TRAIN STATION – the train station in Oulu is a 15-minute walk from your hotel or 5 minutes by taxi (1,1 kilometer). Taxis are lined up along the road by the train station.  

Language: The national languages are Finnish and Swedish (Finnish is the most used). English is widely spoken.  
Timezone in Finland: EET – Eastern European Time  
Emergency number: 112   
Currency: EUR. Credit cards are widely accepted (Amex, Visa, MasterCard).  
Pharmacy: “Apteekki” in Finnish. Yliopiston Apteekki (University Pharmacy) in the city, address: Isokatu 27, open daily 8-23.   

Download the Map of the Oulu City Centre 

Things To See & Do: 
Places to Eat & Drink: