Skip navigation

National Veterans’ Day in 2024 in Vaasa

National Veterans’ Day is celebrated annually on 27 April. The day honours Finland’s war veterans and commemorates the end of the war and the beginning of peace. The day marks the anniversary of the end of the war in Lapland.

National Veterans’ Day has been celebrated since 1987. The proposal for a National Veterans’ Day was made by Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa and confirmed by the Government on the proposal of Minister of Defence Veikko Pihlajamäki in 1986.

The 2024 National Veterans Day will be celebrated on Saturday 27 April 2024 in Vaasa. The Main Ceremony will take place in Botniahalli.

The week of Veterans’ Day will include a varied programme of events to honour the message of Veterans’ Day and to pass on knowledge to younger generations.

The Veterans’ Day and the Veterans’ Week are being prepared in a large-scale cooperation led by the City of Vaasa. The preparations involve the Finnish Defence Forces, congregations, veterans’ and national defence organisations, and more.

Photos from Veterans’ Week are here. 

Main Ceremony at Botniahalli on 27 April 2024

The main celebration for National Veterans Day will take place on April 27, 2024, from 13:30 to 15:00 at the Botnia Hall (the audience is requested to arrive by 13:00). Food and coffee are served at Botniahalli from 11:30 to 13:00.

The Finnish Navy’s official representative band, the Navy band, will provide the music for the event. The band is directed by the conductor Tero Haikala, and Major Juha Ketola and singer-actress Sarah Nedergård will perform as soloists. In addition to the band, choral music will be performed by Wasa Sångargille, Kuula-opisto’s choir Estradi, and Fading, the choir of the music classes from Onkilahti Comprehensive School. The event will be hosted by journalist Manu Myllyaho.

The celebration will be broadcast live on Yle1 channel and Yle Areena.

Before the main celebration on April 27 the programme includes a solemn flag-raising ceremony and a Air Force flyover at the Finnish Statue of Liberty in Vaasa’s Market Square at 9:00 am, and an ecumenical service in Vaasa Church at 10.00-11.00 am.

After the church service, free bus transportation to the Botnia Hall will be available from in front of the City Hall and back after the celebration.

Programme for Veterans’ Week

From April 8, 2024, to May 31, 2024, the Main Library’s countries and cultures section (2nd floor) will host an exhibition titled “Sotiemme veteraanit” (Veterans of our wars). The exhibition will feature literature related to the Winter and Continuation Wars, available for borrowing.

Vaasa City Library also houses the “Myrkkykaappi” or “Poison Cabinet”, containing prohibited books. After World War II, the Allied Control Commission intervened in the content of Finnish library collections. Vaasa’s poison cabinet was kept in the library’s storage until the idea arose to display it as a cultural and library historical collection during the planning of the current building. Vaasa’s cabinet is one of the few collections of banned books that have remained intact to this day.

The Poison Cabinet is located on the 2nd floor of the Main Library, in the Social Sciences and Economics section. The books in the cabinet are not available for borrowing but can be read and studied in the library. Some books have been reprinted, and there are also loan copies in libraries across the country. The list of books in the Poison Cabinet can be found on Vaasa City Library’s website:

On Monday, April 22, 2024, at 14:00 and 16:00, guided tours will be conducted at the Old Cemetery. Departures from the cemetery gate, Vöyrinkatu 2.

Vaasa’s old cemetery was established in 1864 and has also been referred to as Almanniemi, named after the first person who was buried there. The guided tours will share information on Vaasa’s history, its influential societal figures and heroes of war and peace. Participants will also learn about the cemetery’s many monuments and war grave areas.

Tours will be conducted in both Finnish and Swedish and will be an hour long.

Registration by Friday, April 19, 2024, 18:00:
Organiser: Vaasa-Mustasaari oppaat ry Vasa-Korsholm guider rf.

On Tuesday, 23 April at 15:00, a guided tour of the Barracks area.
Departure next to Setterberg’s statue, Kirkkopuistikko 34.

Vaasa’s Barrack square is one of the best-preserved 19th-century wooden barracks areas in Finland. The tour will share information on the area’s history, architecture, and future. The participants walk through Koivupuisto to the beach, where the guide will discuss the Jääkäripatsas (Jäger Statue) and the Finnish Aviation Memorial (the eagle statue).

The tour will be bilingual (Finnish and Swedish) and will last for one hour.

Registration by Monday, April 22, 2024, 18:00:
Organizer: Vaasa-Mustasaari oppaat ry Vasa-Korsholm guider rf.

On Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at 18:00–19:00, there will be a lecture titled “Laitonta, moraalitonta ja lihottavaa: Suhtautuminen paritansseihin ja sota-ajan tanssikielto Suomessa” (Illegal, immoral, and fattening: attitudes towards pair dancing and dance bans in Finland during the war). Location: Main Library, Drama Hall.

Historian and Finnish history professor Marko Tikka will deliver the lecture in Finnish. No registration required.

On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at 18:00–19:30, there will be a lecture titled “Suomen Vapaudenpatsas ja sen symboliikka” (The Freedom Statue of Finland and Its Symbolism). Location: Opistotalo, Raastuvankatu 31, Auditorium B231.

The lecture will be conducted in Finnish by art teacher Aimo Nyberg and professor emeritus Ilkka Virtanen.

Vaasa is home to several war memorials that are unique in Finland, including the Jääkäripatsas (Jäger Statue) and the Finnish Aviation Memorial (Eagle Statue). However, Vapaudenpatsas (Finland’s Statue of Liberty) is undoubtedly the most impressive among them. During the lecture, the history and symbolism of our Statue of Liberty will be explored.


On Thursday, April 25, 2024, at 15:00, there will be a community singing event titled “Sota-ajan sallittuja yhteislauluja ” (Communal songs allowed during wartime). Location: Rewell Center, Viljon aukio.

The male singer ensemble Vox Luminum will lead the audience in singing war-time songs and perform selected pieces adapted for the choir.

The event will be led by Jari Ojalainen and Katariina Korkman, accompanied by Bo Lund on accordion. The event will be hosted by Ralf Holmlund.

Free entry, no registration required, and all welcome!

On Friday, April 26, 2024, there will be free guided tours of the Vaasa 400 exhibition at the Ostrobothnian Museum at 13:00 in Swedish and 14:00 in Finnish.

The exhibition explores Vaasa’s 400-year history, starting from its founding in 1606 and covering the events and conditions that shaped society, governance, education, livelihoods, and daily life.


On Saturday April 27, 2024, the Vaasa War Veteran Museum will be open from 10:00 to 12:00 and on April 28, 2024, from 12:00 to 14:00. Located at Kirkkopuistikko 22 A.

The Vaasa War Veteran Museum showcases military history from the Finnish War to the end of the Continuation War. The museum’s collections primarily consist of weapons, medals, uniforms, and military equipment.

If you would like to come have a tour for a group, please contact 050 537 7909.

Theme of the 2024 National Veterans’ Day

The theme of the 2024 National Veterans’ Day,” Preserving the heritage of veterans – together we succeed”, conveys the importance of preserving the heritage of veterans and ensuring its continued recognition.


Professor Ilkka Virtanen, member of the commemorative committee, introduces the theme:

“The wartime sacrifices made by veterans and the entire veteran generation to safeguard our country’s independence and freedom, their post-war reconstruction work, and their multifaceted activities in various roles in the welfare society based on these sacrifices are the most magnificent and valuable part of our country’s history. Preserving this knowledge and passing it on to future generations is a matter of honour for all of us.”

This message is particularly important now that the veteran generation is leaving us for good and the legacy of veterans’ organisations is being passed on to the next generation. This year’s theme is a commitment to safeguarding the legacy of veterans. And it will be done successfully when it is done according to the principles of veterans – together.”  


The look of Veterans Day 2024 was created by the city’s graphic designer Jouko Keto.

”As we walk through our forests, we can see blueberry bushes producing a new crop and our waterways thawing from winter to summer. As we pick blueberries from its twig, we remember what our war veterans have sacrificed so that we can still stand in the silence of the forest today – in an independent Finland. Finnish nature has existed for thousands of years before Finland, and thanks to our veterans, we have a right to nature that will continue to exist after our time has passed. We will continue to cherish this heritage, never forgetting where it originated,” says Keto about the creation of the look.


Over the years, the main national celebration of National Veterans’ Day has been held across the country. The last celebration in Vaasa was in 1998, when the theme was ”Men and women of our wars – the safeguard of our independence”.

History of the Oak Leaf Symbol

As the 1980s started, the appreciation of veterans in Finnish society grew clearly. This was demonstrated by the involvement of the state in the pension and rehabilitation of frontline veterans. War veterans had long hoped for public recognition by the state. This led to the creation of the badge with the Oak Leaf insignia, a symbol of bravery since ancient times and used in Finland as the emblem of the Cross of Liberty.

The Oak Leaf Badge was unveiled in 1985 and the first badge was presented to President Mauno Koivisto in 1986. All men and women who have been awarded a front-line soldier or front-line service medal are entitled to use the veteran’s badge. Despite its modest appearance, the Oak Leaf has become a respected and accepted emblem that unites all veterans of our wars. It has also become the traditional symbol of National Veterans’ Day.

As a result of cooperation between veterans’ organisations and the state authorities, the Government decided on 30 April 1986 to designate 27 April as National Veterans’ Day to honour and promote the work of the veterans of our wars.

National Veterans’ Day was celebrated for the first time in 1987. Back then, there were 320 000 men and women veterans alive, with an average age of around 70 years. By the end of 2023, there were around 2,200 veterans, of whom around 58% were women and the average age was around 99 years.

Contact details for all activities related to the National Veterans’ Day

Chair of the organising committee, Christina Knookala, Director of the Department of Education of the City of Vaasa, tel. 040 556 5011

Secretary of the organising committee, Anna-Maija Iitola, Project Manager,, tel. 040 159 6195

Chair of the Commemorative Committee, Joakim Strand, Chairman of Vaasa City Council,

Deputy Chairman of the Commemorative Committee, Tomas Häyry, Mayor of Vaasa,