I have this strange fondness of cold places. Ask me which countries I would most like to visit in the world, and I guarantee 9 out of 10 of those are probably colder than England. Yet, I have no idea why, because when it comes to actually dressing sensibly in cold weather, or actually enjoying being the cold, I'm really not good. Anyway, I'm pretty sure my year of living in Finland is what sparked that fondness.
The winters in Finland are harsh, and that comes from me living in the south of Finland (the north is a whole other story). It's very cold and it's very dark. Before I arrived in Helsinki, the advice I'd read over and over again about how to cope with the cold, dark winter was to "dress right". In retrospect, I guess that means don't wander through the snow on a November night in ballet pumps. I learned that the hard way.
So what's so great about Finnish winter? If you can live without feeling in your fingers or toes, it's magical. The snow lights up the darkness, so when the snow falls, it doesn't really seem that dark at all. The crisp air with a constant low sun gives everything a beautiful golden glow for 5 hours a day. Lakes and seas freeze over, placing the city in the middle of an ice rink where you'll find locals skating, ice fishing, and ice-hole swimming.
When summer comes around you have nearly 24 hours of daylight, the waters have thawed, and the weather is perfect for lazing by the lake with a cold beer. The nature is what makes Helsinki so unique. It feels more like a small town surrounded by islands and forests. Just a short ride on the metro and you'll no longer feel like you're in a capital city. It's the perfect blend of urban and rural life.
With urban nature, distinct seasons, unique architecture and thriving events, the locals make the most of their metropolis whatever the season, giving Helsinki so much to offer all year round.