While the weather has been downright depressing in England, I was lucky enough to escape for the weekend and lap up the sunlight in Finland where the sun shines – quite literally – all day long.
I spent the past weekend with a group of UK organisers in the city of Oulu, in northern Finland, courtesy of the Finland Convention Bureau. We were there to check out some venues and activities as the destination promotes itself to the UK for meetings and events business, along with outdoor activity incentives.
From cycling to canoeing, abseiling to learning the art of tar burning, Oulu has a number of interesting options for groups getting out into the wild during the summer months. The city is also famed for being home to the Air Guitar World Championships. Now if that isn’t a reason to visit, then I don’t know what is!
But one thing played havoc with our bodies, that’s for sure - the Midnight Sun that is experienced in the region during the summer. On Saturday night we wandered back to the hotel, after a post-dinner drink, at 1 am, but it felt like 8pm, thanks to the bright skies. The streets were buzzing with locals enjoying their Saturday night, and rock music was blaring from the bars and pubs (a Finnish friend once told me that everyone in Finland is in a rock band at some point in their life). It felt very surreal, we all agreed.
The deceptive ‘daylight’ was almost enough to make us turn around and join the party, but we couldn’t let it fool us – no, it was getting late and we had an early start with a packed schedule ahead. So none of this “I’ll sleep when the sun goes down” talk. It was time for bed.
It got me thinking, though. If you were there for a conference, would you be more or less productive than if you were in a place where it gets light at 6 am and then dark at 6 pm? As it gets dark, we naturally begin to tire, so maybe the extra daylight hours keep our brains ticking over and therefore increase productivity? Or would the extra light hinder sleep patterns and tempt delegates out until the very small hours?
One thing’s for sure, I certainly felt more alert at 1 am in Finland than I did arriving back at a very grim Heathrow at 7 pm…