Helsinki’s Linnanmäki is the oldest and most popular amusement park in Finland. It is owned and operated by the non-profit making Children’s Day Foundation to raise funds for Finnish child welfare work.

With Finland’s 24 hours of sunlight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter, Linnanmäki has, for the past 20 years, marked the final days of its open season with a Carnival of Light (Valokarnevaali), when visitors are entertained on site by samba groups and visual artists in illuminated costumes.

Having designing the pyrotechnic and light show for last year’s event, Helsinki-based Visual Monkeys was invited back to light the entire amusement park in 2022. Lighting designer, Rölli Ridanpaa, who likes nothing better than to light the unconventional, was the ideal man to transform the amusement park into an illuminated wonderland guaranteed to chase away the gloom of a long winter ahead. He chose some of Ayrton’s newest and most powerful fixtures for some far-reaching results.

“Our continuous summer sunlight means Linnanmäki doesn’t have its own lighting installation,” explains Ridanpaa, “so when our client requested a very festive atmosphere for the park during the 11-day Carnival, we had a blank canvas to work with.

“Mikko Enäkoski (Visual Monkeys CEO) established which areas and rides should be lit and we immediately launched into our ideas. This included using a 60m wide disused red brick circular water tower located in the centre of the park, on the highest till in Helsinki, as a base for some lighting fixtures which would draw attention to Linnanmäki and show something exciting was happening there.

“My approach was to get as much light and fun as we can from the budget! So when Creative Technology Northern Europe’s Hannu Makkonen and Ayrton’s Marc Lorenz demo’d the Ayrton Cobra and Domino LT at our offices, we knew we had found our moving light fixtures!

“Cobra’s beam was perfectly visible even in the bright sunlight of a summer’s day. To be honest, it was the first time in a long time I have been excited about a fixture, and I immediately knew we needed these for the roof of the water tower.”

Ridanpaa rigged 16 of the IP65 rated, laser-sourced Cobra fixtures in a circle on top the water tower. “I used them in beam mode, with just a few colours, for old fashioned aerial effects and was able to create some awesome shapes. It looked amazing with the beams reaching far up in the sky! The main purpose had been to create something that was very visible for a long way, but the reality of Cobra blew away my expectations – it was way more than I dreamed! I knew Cobra had punch, but I had reports the beams were visible 22km east of Helsinki! There was some discussion on social media as to what was causing the beams – so people definitely knew there was something happening at Linnanmäki!”

The Domino LT long throw fixtures also proved a must-have fixture for Ridanpaa: “The sheer amount of power that fixture has is amazing,” he says. “Even in congo blue it was still very visible, and I knew I needed these in my design too!”

Ridanpaa chose a total of 6 Domino LT units, using two to illuminate the main entrance of the park with deep blues and 4 more to light an art installation – a rock formation – in the centre of the park.

“I chose the Domino for the art installation just because of the sheer power of the fixture,” explains Ridanpaa. “I washed the rock formation with LED washes and then had fun using the full range of Domino’s gobos, animation wheels and shapers to project on top of the base wash. Domino has incredible punch and gave me something that easily cut through the ambient light to deliver effects that really popped out.

“It was amazing to have that amount of output from a unit that consumes so little power – I’ve not really had that before. The IP rating was a bonus too as we didn’t need protective domes which spoil the look of a design.

“I didn’t realise how powerful and versatile the Dominos were. Now that I know what they are capable of, I can really utilise them in a much more spectacular way and I’d like to have more next year. I feel I have a new toy that can do totally new things. We finally have a fixture that can be used outdoors, with so many options and so much versatility that it’s fun to design with. I find Domino capabilities are actually driving the design – notjust a tool for a preconceived idea.”

As a final touch Ridanpaa used 7 Perseo Beam fixtures to lighting up three 75m-tall tower structures that held free-drop rides which he washed in brilliant, vivid colours.

“I’m really really happy with all the Ayrton fixtures and how easy it was to work with Ayrton and CT. I’m not even trying to hide how happy I am!” he concludes. “Our client at the amusement park was amazed as well and very happy. The only issue now is that next year we can’t go smaller! Not having Ayrton is not an option!”

“The Ayrton fixtures we had in use for this job worked exactly as planned,” says Hannu Makkonen of Creative Technology Northern Europe, lighting supplied for this project. “The IP rating was easily enough to handle a Finnish autumn, and once set up we had no issues. As mentioned, Cobra was the perfect choice to project beams into the night sky of Helsinki.”

Text: Julie Harper
Photos: © Petri Tuohimaa

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