It’s again the week of the year, when Helsinki’s Market Square is packed with pickled and marinated fish. For the 272nd time already, the Helsinki Baltic Herring Fair brings fishermen to the city to sell their cured Baltic herring.

The fair is one of the oldest traditional events of the city, dating back to the 18th century, when people bought piles of salted Baltic herring in autumn, in order to make it through the long months when the frozen sea kept the fishermen onshore.

In comparison to the glorious old days (128 boats in 1958), this year’s 19 boats around the dock isn’t that many. A fisherman suggested on Helsingin Sanomat newspaper interview, that the previous fisher generation is getting old and the younger ones prefer to find an easier way to make a living. I’m sure all the nowadays’ regulations don’t make it any easier either.

The Baltic Herring Fair is a yearly carnival, also for the fishermen participating. But I truly hope there’ll be future generations keeping the traditional profession alive.

Around the market you find signs for creamy salmon soup and see many people eating fried small vendaces. But neither the Norwegian nor the small freshwater fish are the ones I go to eat on the Baltic Herring Fair. My favourite is the one small fishing boat, where they sell crispy fried Baltic Herring, pike-perch fillets or even flounder fresh from pan as well as tasty fish patties and small 1 € bites of fish on black bread.

So I’d suggest you to dress up warm, go find that small boat and eat your fresh fish while listening someone play nautical tunes with an accordion. Then buy a pack or two of the marinated Baltic herrings and a loaf of black archipelago bread and go home happy, feeling like a true islander.

And when back home, listen to this:

Market Square 5.-11.10. 
Open Mon-Fri 7.00-19.00 and Sat 7.00-15.00