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The unique cultural environment and milieu of Lake Pielinen in North Karelia, Eastern Finland, has been an inspiration for Finnish artists for over 100 years. In the 1890’s the area became a significant cultural heritage site, as many painters, writers, poets, photographers and composers sought inspiration for their art from Karelia and Kalevala, the roots of Finnish culture.


Jean Sibelius spent his honeymoon in Lieksa in 1892, and returned to Pielinen in 1909 while visiting Koli with painter Eero Järnefelt. Sibelius described the experience in his diary: “At Koli! One of my life’s greatest experiences. Plans.” Besides Sibelius and Järnefelt, Koli was also visited by, among others, photographer I. K. Inha, painters Pekka Halonen and Venny Soldan-Brofelt, and writer Juhani Aho. The shores of Pielinen in Lieksa were visited more than once by, for example, Elias Lönnrot, the collector of the Finnish national epic, Kalevala.


Cellist Jussi Makkonen and pianist Nazig Azezian have developed cultural excursion packages so that Finnish and foreign tourists can come to sense and experience the same atmosphere and inspiration that were felt by, for example, Jean Sibelius while visiting Pielinen.


In 2015, Makkonen and Azezian hosted cultural excursions called In the Footsteps of Sibelius on Lake Pielinen that had over 200 participants from Finland, the United States and Japan.

The Pohjolan Matka travel agency arranges an excursion open to all from 2nd to 3rd August 2016 starting at 249 euros (includes the excursion program and guided tours, concerts, lunch, bus transportations from Joensuu, and accommodation at the Break Sokos Hotel Koli in double rooms).


Ask for a group discount! Excursions are arranged from 15th to 31st May. Prices starting at 160 euros per person (includes the excursion program and guided tours, concerts, lunch, and accommodation at the Break Sokos Hotel Koli in double rooms. The price does not include bus transportations).



Day 1: A guided tour and visit to Paateri chapel designed and sculpted by the female artist Eeva Ryynänen, and to her unique studio. The visit is followed by a coffee break, a concert at Talligalleria by the Lieksanjoki river, and lunch at the Timitra Hostel. This is followed by a boat trip and a guided tour to Monola where Jean and Aino Sibelius spent their honeymoon. The dinner concert will be held at the restaurant of Break Sokos Hotel Koli that overlooks Lake Pielinen (dinner is not included in the excursion price).


Day 2: Breakfast at the hotel. Free time to visit the Koli landscapes and the Koli Nature Centre Ukko or to relax at the Koli Relax Spa (tickets available for separate purchase at the front desk of the hotel).



Jussi Makkonen,

tel. +358505862740,

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