The Irish Festival of Oulu

Official program partner of Oulu 2026

History

Brief history of Irish music in Oulu

The Irish Festival of Oulu and The Irish Music Society of Oulu were born in 2006 out of the lively traditional Irish music and dance scene in Oulu.

Traditional Irish music has been present in Oulu, Finland for over 40 years. Long story short, the local scene was born and developed by Irish music pioneers Jorma Mäkitalo (singer, mandolin) and Markus Lampela (uilleann pipes, whistles, singer) who formed Oulu’s first traditional Irish band, Irish Friday, that sparked the fire of interest for traditional Irish music, dance and culture that burns ever so bright today.

All in all, it’s about the craic of Irish culture and experiencing it together with new and old friends.

Since 2006, 104.179 participants from Finland, Europe and USA have attended the festival.

Events of the festival have included traditional Irish music concerts and sessions, world music concerts, traditional Finnish music, Sámi Joiku music, culture and storytelling, Irish dance, Irish Films, theatre performances, puppetry, storytelling, street festivals, art and photo exhibitions, culture discussions, quizzes, Irish animal fairs including Wolfhounds, Irish Setters, Irish Cob and Connemara ponies, Irish whiskey tastings, GAA football matches, workshops in traditional Irish music, dance courses, courses in Gaelic language, Improv theatre, storytelling, Irish cooking, Gaelic football.

The Irish Festival of Oulu

In 2006, The Irish Festival of Oulu and The Irish Music Society of Oulu were founded by musician and storyteller Brent Cassidy along with a group of friends who were Irish musicians, storytellers, Irish culture enthusiasts and dancers who shared in the vision of simply wanting more opportunities to experience traditional Irish music, dance and culture in Oulu, Finland.

Co-founders were:  Markus Lampela, Anthony Johnson, Annamari Martinviita, Oliver Hussey, Iida-Maria Luhta, Aale Luusua, Jani Suvanto, Fergal Lynch, Jyrki Huhta.

The rest is history. We are simply amazed of the path and success of our beloved festival and continue forward with a high quality Irish cultural festival that is inclusive to all people. We work professionally, passionately and diligently to ensure an inclusive and versatile programme of multi-disciplinary events that have included Grammy Award winners, Pulitzer prize winners, Official film selections at Cannes and other film festivals, award winning theatre performances, storytellers, art exhibitions and much, much more.