Student culture

Events organised by AYY

AYY organises many different annual events. Some traditions are upheld year after year, but new traditions are created all the time. Below is a list of some of the biggest annual student events organised by AYY itself or in collaboration with other parties. It is important to note that in addition to the events listed here, associations in the Aalto community also organise a huge amount of their own events, some of which are very popular in the community.
Aalto Party_Aleksi Lehtinen

Click here for AYY’s event calendar.

Shrove Tuesday celebrations & Gravitaatio

Around Shrove Tuesday, thousands of overall-clad or otherwise warmly dressed students from all over the metropolitan area flock to Ullanlinnanmäki hill in Helsinki’s Kaivopuisto park. In addition to sledging, the programme for the day usually includes a competition to reward the best (makeshift) sledge. People have raced down the hill on pirate ships and sofas; some have even managed to sledge uphill! More entertainment is provided by various associations and other partners in cooperation at their stands.

After the sledging, students head to the annual Gravitaatio party in the centre of Helsinki to continue the celebrations in a slightly warmer setting.  Gravitaatio is a real cross-disciplinary party where the country’s top artists often make an appearance and you can dance away the cold with thousands of other students.  Gravitaatio is known to be one of the oldest student parties as its roots go back to the early 1900s.


May Day & wappu events

Whether you spell it with a V or a W, “Vappu”, or May Day, is the biggest student celebration. The Aalto community often uses the spelling “Wappu”.

Everyone at Aalto has their own way of celebrating wappu. For some, wappu only lasts for a day, while for others it goes on for a week or more!

The majority of the events organised by AYY and various associations are well worth experiencing and they are a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. Wappu events pop up all over the place in spring, and as the festival draws near, check out  and special status associations’ websites for more information. The Freshman Major announces the organisation of any teekkariwappu for technology students in their daily orders, but students of other subjects can rest assured knowing that they too are bound to have a great wappu. May Day is the best time of year for students!

AYY kicks off the spring celebrations a couple of weeks before wappu festivities when Aalto Open Air takes over Alvarin aukio square. In addition to an extensive stage programme, there are also lots of festival activities, food trucks and relaxed socialising.

Wappu events also include, for example, sitsit competitions at Alvarin aukio square or Tour de Walpuri, which sees freshmen and senior students fiercely compete in fun checkpoint orienteering.

The May Day Eve programme and traditions vary from association to association, but the entire day is action-packed whatever you study. The May Day Eve programme organised by AYY includes the Declaration of Wappu Rowdiness and the Wappu Party held at Dipoli.

Wappu Rowdiness is declared from the roof of Smökki and is accompanied by various performances to thousands of spectators from the early afternoon. After the Wappu Rowdiness, students head to Kauppatori to see the “capping” of the Havis Amanda statue, but the biggest parties later on in the evening are found back in Otaniemi.

AYY’s Wappu Party at Dipoli is not only the traditional place for teekkaris to put on their cap after the winter break, but is also a great way to celebrate wappu with great artists and great company.

The biggest and most well-known part of May Day celebrations is the capping of the Havis Amanda statue at Kauppatori at 6.00pm on May Day Eve, 30 April. The “capping” means placing a student’s cap on the statue’s head and it first took place in 1932, though it was not so official back then. The ritual attained its current form in 1951, although as late as the 1970s it was done later on in the evening, at the stroke of midnight - this is why students of technology, or “teekkari”, still put on their teekkari caps at midnight, while everyone else starts wearing their student’s caps earlier. Student unions in the capital city region take turns to cap the statue, and AYY takes a turn every four years. AYY will next get to cap the statue in 2019.

Wappu reaches its peak on Ullanlinnanmäki hill on May Day in the form of a rather self-organising herring breakfast. The morning begins at 9.00am with an event organised by the student unions of the metropolitan area. The presidents of the student unions deliver their Wappu greetings and the YL Male Voice Choir performs.  Students who throng to Ullanlinnanmäki hill are joined by a huge number of people who celebrated their student May Days long ago.


Humans vs. Zombies & Quidditch

AYY’s Outdoor Games Committee (UPTMK) organises a wide range of outdoor activities open to all Aalto students. The most well-known of these are Humans vs. Zombies and the Academic Quidditch World Cup.

Humans vs. Zombies is a moderated tag game where the zombie players try to spread an infection by capturing the human players. People can defend themselves by hiding, escaping or fighting using socks or nerf guns against the zombies. There are also various tasks to make the game more interesting. HvZ is a team game originally created for campuses like Otaniemi, so we are able to play this game in the best location in Finland!

The Academic Quidditch World Cup takes place in spring in Silkkiniitty, Espoo. Since it is the muggle-friendly version of the popular game of Quidditch featured in the Harry Potter series, players are not required to fly. The game looks like this at an elite level


Flower Day

Flower Day and the birthday of the Teekkari Village are always celebrated on 13 May, the name day of Flora. The Flower Day message is one of the oldest traditions of Flower Day, brought to a person or organisation that has helped to promote important issues. Previously the message was delivered by technology students, but nowadays it is delivered by AYY members.


Cleaning Party

Otaniemi is home to plenty of events, and sometimes you just can’t help making a little mess. The campus section aims to organise a cleaning party on campus, particularly in the Teekkari Village, twice a year so that the area is kept nice for visitors and residents. Anyone who uses the village can take part in the cleaning party, and afterwards participants can enjoy a hot sauna and food and drink as thanks.


AYY’s annual ball

The annual ball is the student union’s most esteemed celebration, which can be seen in the dress code, etiquette and programme. However, AYY’s history is often celebrated in a more relaxed fashion as well, and celebrations aren’t limited to the day of the annual ball. In fact, there is an Anniversary Week, where you can learn the secrets of dancing at an etiquette course, or relax at the herring brunch with good food, good company, and great entertainment at the close of the week.

AYY’s annual ball is held in May, traditionally on the Saturday following Flower Day. The day begins with a cocktail event where the student union receives greetings from invited guests and others who wish to participate. The cocktail party is followed by the main event, where a three-course meal is served, members of the union are rewarded for their efforts, and a diverse programme of entertainment is held.  After dinner there is dancing, and then participants move on to the afterparty where celebrations continue on until it is time for the replenishing herring brunch the following morning. 


Orientation week

There’s all kinds of things happening during orientation week, which kicks off the academic year.

Aalto Day One starts off the new academic year with an opening ceremony, followed by fun at association and club checkpoints at the Aalto Party at the Alvarin aukio square. The evening is topped off by orientation week’s best after party, the Aalto Afterparty.

In addition, regardless of whether they started studies in autumn or January, students can have fun on the Otaniemi campus and learn more about the associations and community by visiting different checkpoints.  In autumn these are organised in the form of the two-day Otasuunnistus event during orientation week, and as Winter Day in January.

AYY, the university and associations receiving new students all organise lots of events and activities to help freshmen learn more about the university and their fellow students.


Otatarha race & Lakinlaskijaiset

Lakinlaskijaiset, or the “Caps Off” party, is held on 30 September and begins with the action-packed Otatarha race. The event is a chance for student groups to compete with vehicles that are self-built and which are not motor powered. Other than these two requirements, the sky is the limit when it comes to style and we have seen a sauna, a Pokeball and a metro carriage on the track. In addition to the race itself, there is also other fun and entertainment on offer each year, from obstacle courses to bouncy castles.

The day ends with a big party at Dipoli organised by AYY. The Caps Off party is traditionally celebrated on the last day of September each year, when caps are taken off for winter. Thousands of students gather at midnight to take off their caps, accompanied by the music of the Retuperä Voluntary Fire Brigade Band. The party always hosts a wide range of top performers and fun activities. After all, there’s plenty of room to party at Dipoli!


Aalto Amazing Race

Aalto Amazing Race is an adventurous race aimed at all first-year students at Aalto, where freshmen meet students from other subjects and departments, as the organiser splits participants into cross-disciplinary teams.  In the race, teams progress towards a goal by solving various tasks and clues against the clock. Aalto Amazing Race is extremely popular and is held in October each year.


World Dinner

The popular World Dinner is organised around twice a year and offers the opportunity to get to know new people, learn more about exotic cuisines and to show off your own cooking skills to a wider audience. Participants all bring something along, and all of the food is shared, so all you need to do to take part is cook something for others to enjoy.


Teekkari tradition week

Teekkari tradition week is held in the first full week of November to celebrate teekkari culture, which is over 145 years old. The week is celebrated at the same time as TKY’s annual celebration week before 2010, and partially shares the same programme.

The Klubi-ilta, Song competition sitsit, Freshman sitsit, Polin Appro and, of course, the Teekkari tradition celebration itself - followed by the Teekkarisillis herring breakfast - have all earnt a permanent spot on the programme for the week. There are also events relating to teekkari culture or traditions, varying by year, and from 2017 there will be a dinner organised in English, with the theme changing in accordance with the theme for the week.

The Klubi-ilta is not the traditional Smökki party kind of experience, and instead invests in quality and atmosphere. The Song competition sitsit is a search for the best singers around, while teekkari freshmen can attend one of the finest sitsit in all of Otaniemi. The week’s biggest event is Polin Appro, where participants embarkon a bar crawl near the Old Poly building in Helsinki.

The Teekkari tradition celebration is usually held on the second Friday of November. The celebrations are a cross-disciplinary annual event, to which all freshmen, teekkaris  and teekkari-minded people are invited. In 2019, teekkari culture will be celebrating its 147th anniversary.

Teekkarisillis is one of the biggest annual herring breakfasts and it is held at Smökki. There’s always something for everyone, even if they have just woken up, but the atmosphere will get a little wilder, especially when the sillis artist takes the stage.


Students’ Torch Procession

The students’ torch procession is an Independence Day tradition organised in collaboration by the student unions in the capital city area to celebrate Finland’s independence in a traditional way.

The first students’ torch procession was organised in 1951. Back then, too, the event began by laying a wreath on war graves, after which 2,000 students march to Senate Square to hear speeches and choir singing. Today the procession is a joyful and celebratory event held in the spirit of a communal student movement that looks to the future. Celebrations begin with the laying of a wreath on the Hero’s Cross at Hietaniemi cemetery, followed by a procession towards Senate Square. The event is open to everyone.

Event calendar

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