Ilosaarirock in Brief

This year (2010) is the 40th consecutive year of the Ilosaarirock Festival. The first festival, called Rock Rieha (Rock Rave), took place in 1971 on the Ilosaari island (which literally translates as Fun island) in the Pielisjoki River that runs through the heart of Joensuu. This is how the festival got its name.

Rokki, as the event is informally known, has grown to be one of the main events of the Finnish rock festival calendar. The 21 000 tickets on sale have been sold out in advance every year during the past decade. There is a total of five stages at the festival, in addition to the club events, held on Friday at the actual festival site. During its entire history, the festival has presented bands and artists from both Finland and abroad and represented a multitude of popular music genres. Ilosaarirock is highly regarded by the national live music industry with many of the Finnish major promoters, manager agents, and concert venue owners dropping in at some point over the weekend.

The Main Stage (Päälava) hosts both Finnish and international acts. Instead of following a certain musical line, the acts on this stage – both Finnish and foreign favourites – have something else in common: enough charisma to fill up the requirements of a really big stage. The real appeal of the artists and the stage decorations is revealed in the darkening summer night as the fireworks come out above the thrilled audience's heads. This is when the place gets a timeless feel...

YleX Stage, the main tent of the festival is always packed with class acts. The tent can host up to 8 000 people and yet it remains cosy and intimate. The acts of this stage are recorded by the Finnish Broadcasting Company and the recordings are put on air in the winter, when it is time to dig out woollen socks, wallow in the memories of the previous summer and sketch plans for the next one.

Third Stage remains true to a traditional small-scale festival atmosphere. Ilosaarirock started in 1971 as an alternative rock festival, and the indie spirit — although very much present everywhere at the Festival site — can best be experienced in this convenient and cheerful tent. When things get too heated, search out for the chill-out Rento Stage and you will find a festival within a festival. Here, besides basking on the beach and and swimming in the lake, you can soak up the best of hip hop, reggae, rap and jazz.

Rekka Stage is the stage that gives mainly local artists a platform to display their talent. In Rekka Stage there is room for both old-timers who have performed at Ilosaarirock for years, and for those who are waiting for their turn to show the audience just why they should be considered for one of the larger stages in future years.

On Friday there are also club events, Sulo and Töminä, inside the actual festival area.

Ilosaari is organized mainly by volunteers and music enthusiasts, making the event unique in both Finnish and global context. The aim has been to develop a festival organisation that works like a well-oiled machine, yet does not compromise a bit of the ultimate feel-good atmosphere. Everyone works together, this way creating an experience that rewards all the hard work. Even though most of the work is done by volunteers, no less than a professional standard is required. The Rokki is still owned and run by a non-profit institution Joensuun Popmuusikot (Joensuu Pop Musicians' Association), not a commercial business, and it shows in the end result. Joensuun Popmuusikot is an association dedicated to the promotion of live music in the county of North Karelia of which Joensuu is the capital. Its main object is to raise the quality standards of live music, but it also has a section dedicated to helping local bands with financial aid for recording demo tapes or fully produced albums.

The nerve centre of operations is Popmuusikot's office in Joensuu, which acts as the informational, financial, and administrative base. The Popmuusikot Board meets once every two weeks during the year and up to four times a week in the week leading up to the festival. Organizing the next year's festival starts literally as soon as the current one is over.

Ilosaarirock was originally created to be a great party for the public, not as a profit-making scheme for the organizers. This means that we are particularly selective when it comes to choosing our sponsors and partners, and there is little advertising seen on the venue. Year after year everything possible is done to create a safe and enjoyable environment both for the bands and the festival-goers.