Joensuun Popmuusikot ry – Briefly in English
Joensuun Popmuusikot ry (Joensuu Pop Musician’s Association) is a non-profit live music association founded in 1971. The association’s goal is to promote and support pop music in North Karelia and to elevate its artistic level.
Joensuun Popmuusikot ry organizes the Rock Festival Ilosaarirock, the Film Festival Rokumentti, the children’s music festival Vekararokki, owns Restaurant Kerubi and hands out grants three times a year to local music enthusiasts to support music activities in the area.
We organize the largest festival in Eastern Finland, the renowned Ilosaarirock, which has been held continuously since 1971. We use the profits to promote and support popular music in North Karelia in order to make Joensuu a better place to live.
- All music is valuable
- The festival is there for its audience
- We make our hometown a better place to live
- We take responsibility for our own environmental load
- All are welcome, and everyone is equally important
- We openly stand up for the vulnerable
- We do things fairly, ethically and safely, regardless of the monetary cost
- We will leave an even better Ilosaarirock for future generations
What we do
Ilosaarirock is a festival dear to its visitors and creators, bringing together about 67,000 cheerful and lively participants each year for one weekend without equal. The event is Finland's second oldest rock festival as well as one of its largest. Joensuun Popmuusikot ry has been organizing Ilosaarirock annually since 1971. It is very rare for one of Finland's largest festivals to be organized by an unincorporated, non-profit association. Ilosaarirock is held in mid-July.
The festival is known for its distinctive atmosphere, diverse program and its great and functional customer service. Ilosaarirock is independent, local, responsible and very dear to its organizers and the festival guests who come year after year.
The profits from Ilosaarirock are used to support the popular culture of North Karelia by distributing grants three times a year. Ilosaarirock is known for its relaxed atmosphere, its uncomplicated Karelian customer service and its sense of responsibility. In addition, the festival's pioneering work to reduce its environmental load is internationally recognized.
Ilosaarirock moved to its current location on Joensuu’s Laulurinne (a local concert venue) in 1991. The festival area was expanded to its current dimensions in 2012, and the festival was extended to three days in 2017.
Rokumentti Rock Film Festival focuses on music-related movies. Held during the darkest period of November in Joensuu, Rokumentti offers five days' worth of feast for the eyes and ears. A first-time visitor is amazed by the countless premieres, great concerts, interesting guests and nerve-wracking movies that can’t be seen anywhere else. Rokumentti is considered the largest music film event in the Nordic countries.
Rokumentti started in 2005 under the management of North Karelia’s University of Applied Sciences. Joensuun Popmuusikot ry was responsible for the production of the event from the very beginning, and in 2007, the festival was completely organized by the association.
At the heart of Rokumentti is a high-quality film selection that challenges and surprises its audience. In addition to film screenings, the festival has seen interesting guests, seminars, arena concerts, record fairs and sing-along films. On several years you could also watch films outside from a hot tub in the cold of November. Rokumentti is known as a ray of light among culture lovers in the middle of the darkest season.
Vekararokki is the kids’ own rock festival, where they get to rock and cheer to their hearts content. The festival has been held since 2005 on the Ilosaari Island. Ticket prices for the event are very affordable, allowing everyone to participate in the festival.
Between 2005–2016, Vekararokki was held on the Saturday of the Ilosaarirock festival, but since 2017 the event has been held a week earlier. The idea behind Vekararokki is that children deserve their own music-focused festival where they celebrate on their own terms. Vekararokki is a safe first step into the fascinating world of festivals.
Restaurant Kerubi, located on the Ilosaari Island in Joensuu, is a restaurant, gig venue, nightclub and a home to many events in Karjalantalo. Kerubi is run by Joensuun Töminä Oy, which is fully owned by Joensuun Popmuusikot ry.
Kerubi is a legendary Finnish rock club. Founded in the 1990s, the club’s ownership was transferred to Joensuun Popmuusikot in 1998 after a narrow vote. The club closed its doors due to the expiration of the lease in 2002, and a fierce search for a new location began. For the years until the current Restaurant Kerubi was opened in 2011, Joensuu's nightlife was serviced by the café-restaurant Kerubin Kuppila. Kerubi has hosted thousands of events from gigs to theater shows, movie screenings and stand-up comedy performances. Joensuun Töminä oy also organizes several annual events outside of Kerubi.
Joensuun Popmuusikot ry was founded on the 20th of July, 1971. The founding members were concerned about the limited concert opportunities in the surrounding areas and the lack of collaboration between local musicians. The members got to work, and the association’s first own event was held the following month in Ilosaari, Joensuu. The event, called Rockrieha, is also known as the first ever Ilosaarirock. The 1970’s had a lot of financial difficulties for the association, but in 1979, it acquired its first permanent business premises.
In the 1980's, the work of Popmuusikot was rewarded with the success of Joensuu- based bands in Finnish music competitions. In 1981 a large stage and a professional sound system were brought into Ilosaari for the first time. During the 80’s the association saw a lot of financial difficulties, and its debt increased. Attempts were made to remedy the situation by changing the name of the festival into Ilosaaripop and selecting a lighter program for the event, but at the end of the decade, the association’s board had to ask the city for financial support.
The year 1990 for the association was one of a fight for survival. However, the successful Ilosaarirock in 1990 and a fundraising concert helped the association to carry on with its activities. The City of Joensuu granted support for organizing the 20th anniversary of Ilosaarirock in 1991. Due to the occasion, the festival was held for the first time on Laulurinne, which later became the permanent venue for the festival. Ilosaarirock was profitable for the first time in a long while, and by 1995, the debts had been paid. Ilosaarirock's success story was ready to begin. After the mid-1990s, Ilosaarirock began to host international bands, and the number of visitors increased considerably. The improved financial situation made it possible to support local bands as well. In 1996, the board decided to buy the Restaurant Kerubi in a narrow vote.
At the turn of the millennium, in the 00’s, the association was in a good financial position, thanks to successful management. In the previous decade, Ilosaarirock had risen to the big leagues of Finnish festivals – tickets were sold out in advance each summer. The association could afford to hire year-round staff and had resources to focus on activities other than organizing Ilosaarirock. A major project at the beginning of the millennium was to find a new location for Kerubi, which was forced to close its doors due to renovations. Over the decade, the association took part in various regional and cultural development projects and its operations became more professional. The association received international recognition for reducing Ilosaarirock’s environmental load.
In the early 2010’s, after a lot of planning, the association opened a restaurant and concert venue in Karjalantalo in the original Ilosaari, where the first Rockrieha was held in 1971. In addition to concerts, the new Kerubi also provided movie and theater shows, stand-up evenings, DJ shows, a nightclub, and various corporate events. Competition in the festival industry grew fiercer during the decade as it became more international, and Ilosaarirock’s success could not be taken for granted. A number of successful reforms were made to the festival; the area was expanded, and the festival now extended to three days. New visitor records were set again.