Helsinki 1952


Published 18.3.2022

The 70th anniversary of the Helsinki Olympics is celebrated with many events at the Stadium and guided Helsinki 1952 stadium tours. We are also collecting memories of the grand summer of 1952.

When Paavo Nurmi lit the Olympic flame on 19 July 1952 with 70 000 spectators cheering, the stadium built at the Töölönlahti bay in Helsinki finally became a true Olympic Stadium.

Designed by the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti, the functionalist style stadium was inaugurated in 1938. It was supposed to host the summer Olympics already in 1940. When the Olympic Games were finally celebrated in Helsinki 12 years later, the Stadium had already been enlarged in line with the requirements of the Olympic movement. The stands were extended and new training and warm-up facilities were added to the Stadium.

In addition to the opening and closing ceremonies, the Olympic Stadium was the venue for track and field, football and show jumping competitions. Ten new world records were made at the Stadium. Tens of thousands of visitors had immemorable moments, provided among others by Emil Zátopek who won gold on 5 000 metres, 10 000 metres and the marathon. The international audience could also see Finnish baseball in the exhibition game between the Finnish federations Suomen Pesäpalloliitto and Työväen Urheiluliitto.


Stadium atmosphere preserved in refurbishment

Today, 70 years later, the Olympic Stadium is Helsinki’s iconic landmark favoured by both locals and tourists. There are only 60 main venues of summer Olympics on the entire globe, and so the Stadium is a unique site also worldwide – and many find it is also the most beautiful Olympic Stadium in the world.

The spirit and atmosphere of the Olympics were also cherished in the comprehensive overhaul and renewal of the Stadium, with the new opening celebrated in 2020. The extended Stadium has been refurbished with due respect for the old architecture, making sustainable choices that foster the genuine warm feeling.

“The spirit of summer 1952 lives on at the Stadium, carried by its unique history and also the honorary plaque in the grandstand, immortalising the names of all winners of the XV Olympiad”, Director Ari Kuokkanen of the Olympic Stadium comments on his place of work.

Anniversary events and tours to Stadium history

The 70th anniversary of the Helsinki Olympic Games will be celebrated throughout the year at the Stadium. The anniversary year 2022 started with several grand events. In January, we could admire light art during the Lux Helsinki event. February saw the Helsinki Ski Weeks and also the celebrations of the successful Finnish ice hockey teams and skiers returning from Peijing.

In the spring, we will launch the guided Helsinki 1952 Stadium tours. They will bring the visitors through the renewed Stadium, with dips in its great history, allowing them to relive the immemorable moments of the 1952 Olympic Games. The children have their own Adventure at the Stadium tour. The Helsinki 1952 guided tours of the Stadium can also be booked privately for groups and organisations. The guided Helsinki 1952 tours will be available until the end of 2022.

The entire Stadium event year reveres the 1952 history. During the spring and summer of 2022, the public will also have the unique possibility to experience the feeling of the 1952 main scene, the tracks of the Stadium field. 

“For generations, the Stadium has been the arena of moved spectators with beating hearts, and the tradition lives on. See you at the anniversary events and visits to the Stadium!”, Director Kuokkanen welcomes the public.

Have you or your close ones memories of the Olympic Stadium and the 1952 Summer Games? Please share them with us! Send your memories to HERE

Tickets to the guided Helsinki 1952 tours of the Stadium

Booking of private tours here

Sources: Erkki Alaja: Olympiastadion. Teos 2020.