Johanna Wickström, who is managing the project, has some intensive work to do before the first “Islands of Peace”. The Åland Islands Peace Institute has existed in Åland for a considerable length of time, but this festival is completely new this year.
What do you personally think is the most fun thing about a peace festival in Åland?
“That it's a new kind of festival. We mix music, lectures and workshops. The idea of the festival is to increase awareness of peace issues and at the same time have an enormous amount of fun and dance a lot. We want to invite the world to Åland and to put beautiful Åland on display for everyone.”
Queerpolska and yoga
The programme is organised in blocks. Workshops in the mornings, seminars in the afternoons and music in the evenings. Johanna explains that part of the point of Islands of Peace is to strengthen the Åland Islands' image as islands of peace. What she means by that is that peace is more than just the absence of war. There is inner peace, social peace, political peace and world peace. All these levels are connected and have an effect on one another. That is why the programme is packed with so much more than traditional peace efforts – like how about queerpolska and yoga?
A land without soldiers
In international terms, Åland is an unusual example of how conflicts can be resolved by peaceful means. Did you know that Åland is demilitarised and that Ålanders didn’t have to do national service even during the Cold War? Up until 1809 Åland was a part of Sweden, and after that it became a part of the Russian Grand Principality of Finland. When Finland became independent in 1918, Swedish-speaking Åland was granted special status in Finland and the military left the island state. Today Åland is a part of Finland but has a high degree of autonomy.
Festival passes and tickets
A pass for the whole festival costs SEK 779, or SEK 629 if you are under 18. A one-day ticket costs SEK 219–389 depending on the day. The easiest thing to do is to buy your tickets at www.islandsofpeace.ax.
How to travel to Islands of Peace
What do you recommend for those of us who are travelling to the festival from the mainland?
“There are plenty of ferries to choose from. But if you want to stay somewhere that is both good and cheap in Mariehamn, then it’s sensible to book ahead. Otherwise there is plenty of accommodation outside Mariehamn. Distances are short in Åland,” explains Johanna Wickström.
About thirty ferries arrive from Sweden and Finland every day. You’ll find timetables for all boats and flights. The fastest boat takes only two hours between Grisslehamn and Eckerö in western Åland. Read more about accommodation in Åland at visitaland.com.
Read more about the festival at www.islandsofpeace.ax.