Kissojen Yö – Helsinki’s Night Of The Cats
Every year on the first 2 weekends of September the Helsinki Zoo, Korkeasaari holds a 2-day event called the Kissojen Yö (Night of the Cats). The zoo is open from 4pm till midnight, and everyone is encouraged to come late into the night, while its large collection of big and exotic cats are out and about, rather than sleeping in the back of their enclosure.
Korkeasaari is a small island, just off the shore of Kalasatama in the Helsinki metropolitan area. You can get there by bus, by ferry or by simply walking across the multi-island spanning series of bridges that lead you there from Kalasatama Metro station.
The entire island is covered in burning candles and torches to give an amazing night time ambience (and not to scare the cats) and while the big kitties are obviously the main attraction, you are welcome to roam the zoo, take in the atmosphere and partake in all the festivities dotted about the island. Performers dressed in cat outfits can be found entertaining kids with juggling and face painting, there are music stages replete with live performances, there is shopping, dancers, street food stalls grilling up a storm and I even passed a terrible stand-up comedian.
I should mention that the island itself is simply stunning to walk around at sunset and in the dark.
The furballs are fed on a publicly advertised schedule, so you can follow the zookeepers around from enclosure to enclosure, watch the cats chow down on their dinner and listen as the staff give a presentation explaining all about the particular cat you are looking at, its habitat, mating habits, diet – everything. This is all in Finnish, but it is repeated (if somewhat abridged) in English as well, for the foreign tourists to enjoy. They also feed some “almost cats” that are crowd favourites like red pandas and otters, but nobody was complaining.
I put on my most appropriate shirt for the event:
And we wandered over at sunset. A great time was had watching the feeding of a few of the big cats, and the adorable little red pandas. It is really hard to take good photos of cats in the dark with my cellphone, so I apologise for the low quality and vertical positioning.
We grabbed a hamburger from a street food stall that was shockingly tasty, with a really good bun, and met some weird looking chickens wandering about the place.
We even popped into the tropicarium to see some reptiles in the dark. Very cool.
What a heckin snek
A super fun and unique experience that if you happen to be in Helsinki during the event, I highly recommend you check out. Tickets are 18€ a pop, and I guarantee it is not something you will get to do anywhere else in a hurry.
I leave you with this: No matter how lazy you think you are on a Sunday morning, you will never get on this bears level….