Photo: tangomarkkinat.fi
Tangomarkkinat (Seinäjoen Tangomarkkinat) is an annual tango festival held in Finland. It takes place every July in the city of Seinäjoki. One of the largest summer events in Finland, Tangomarkkinat attracts over 100,000 attendees annually.

Tangomarkkinat is the oldest tango festival in the world. It was conceived by Lasse Lintala, the director of the Ilmajoki Music Festival. Lintala was hoping to get the festival televised. He pitched the idea to Tauno Äijälä, the director of the MTV3 channel. Äijälä suggested incorporating tango into the festival. It took them a couple of years to develop the idea but ultimately Ilmajoki wasn’t interested in a new format.

While traveling to Helsinki to tell Äijälä the bad news, Lintala met Matti Nuolivirta, the Mayor of Seinäjoki, and his deputy Risto Hakala on the train. They loved Lintala’s idea and suggested that the festival be held in Seinäjoki. The venture was approved by Seinäjoki city council and the first Seinäjoki Tango Festival was held in July 1985.

The inaugural festival attracted around 18,000 attendees and was deemed a success by visitors and organizers alike. However, Tangomarkkinat had its ups and downs during the first years of its existence. The first three editions were plagued by terrible weather. Besides, a musical based on the life of the famous tango singer Olavi Virta that premiered at the 1988 festival was a flop. Luckily, Tangomarkkinat was a great success due to a combination of excellent weather and the performance by Arja Koriseva.

Since its inception, Tangomarkkinat has become a major tango festival and one of the most important summer events in Finland. The festival features the best tango singers, dancers and composers from all over Finland and abroad. Alongside performances, its program includes public dancing to live music. According to the rules, tango constitutes at least 40% of music for public dancing but people also have a chance to dance to other dance rhythms.

One of the main highlights of Tangomarkkinat is Tango Royals, a tango singing competition for Finnish performers. The competition has one male and one female winner who are declared the Tango King and Queen, while runners-up are declared the Tango Prince and Princess. Famous Tango Royals include Kaija Pohjola, Kaija Lustila, Mira Kunnasluoto, Saija Varjus, Sauli Lehtonen, Jari Sillanpää, Arja Koriseva.


Photo: Esa Pesonen




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