Reception at Helsinki City Hall
Wednesday 29 August, 18:30-20:00
Helsinki City Hall is located in the heart of Helsinki's Neoclassical town centre, facing the Market Square. In 1812 Helsinki became the capital of Finland, then an Autonomous Grand Duchy and part of the Russian Empire. This altered status necessitated a search for suitable buildings to house government officials and the new administration. A perfect location was found adjacent to the Market Square and the favourite architect of Tsar Nicholas I, Carl Ludwig Engel, was commissioned to design a set of assembly rooms. One of these was completed in 1833 and opened as the Seurahuone Hotel, complete with banqueting rooms and a main hall that could accommodate up to 1,600 people. The Seurahuone Hotel became a centre of high society in 19th century Helsinki, the scene of fine balls and concerts attended by Finnish and Russian officers, gentry and other officials. The Hotel installed gas lamps and running water in the 1860s and at the end of the nineteenth century was one of the earliest Finnish adopters of an innovative new technology, electricity.
The building operated as a hotel until 1913, though the City had purchased the site in 1901 with a view on constructing a new town hall. After serving as a Russian naval hospital during the First World War, the building was rescued from demolition and fully refurbished in the 1920s to fulfil its new role as City Hall. It housed sessions of the Helsinki City Council in 1932-1965 after which it underwent major renovation and rebuilding in 1965-1970 under the direction of professor Aarno Ruusuvuori. Of the original hotel, only the main hall, facade and entrance colonnade remain, with the main hall nowadays used primarily for receptions and official entertaining.
Source: Helsinki City Information Office
Conference Dinner at Haikko Manor Thursday 30 August, 19:00-23:00
Haikko Manor is located in the middle of a beautiful park by the sea, only half an hour's drive from Helsinki and just five kilometres from the picturesque old town of Porvoo. Haikko manor has a history dating back to 1362, when it was owned by the Dominican priory of Vyborg. Jöns Olofsson bought the manor later and it remained in the ownership of the Stenbock family until 1871, when it was purchased by General Sebastian von Etter. His family kept the Manor for almost a century during which time many members of the Russian imperial family (some later, in exile) as well as distinguished Finnish guests such as the artist Albert Edelfelt, visited Haikko. The present Manor House was built in 1913 from original drawings by professor Armas Lindgren. It was purchased in 1965 by Satu and Leo Vuoristo who opened it the following year as the first manor hotel in Finland. A spa hotel was built in 1974, a Conference Centre in 1983, and a Japanese-style Yorokobi pool department in 1999. The Conference Dinner will be held in Haikko Villa, a purpose built modern banqueting facility by the sea, opened in 2007 on the grounds of the Manor.