What is Arctic Circle Jukola?

Napapiiri-Jukola 2020

The Arctic Circle Jukola 2020 is the world’s largest orienteering relay race held in 2020 in Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland. 

What makes the Arctic Circle Jukola unique is the midnight sun in Lapland. With the midnight sun, there is no need for headlamps as the light conditions during the night will be very similar to those during the day. Mixed teams are allowed in the Jukola Relay. The Venla Relay for women is organised at the same time. Mixed teams are allowed in the Jukola Relay, but the Venla Relay is only open for women. Both relay races are open to anyone aged 16 or over. No competition licence is required in Jukola, and you and your teammates do not need to be members of an orienteering club – you can put together a team with your friends, colleagues or relatives, if you wish.

This is the 72nd Jukola Relay and the 43rd Venla Relay, with around 18,000 orienteers competing in the Arctic Circle.

The Jukola weekend starts with the 4-leg Venla Relay during Saturday afternoon. The Jukola Relay will start on Saturday, as the day turns into night, with the midnight sun. The Jukola Relay has seven legs, the number of brothers in the novel by Aleksis Kivi that originally inspired the competition. The relay competition continues through the night, with the winning team finishing early on Sunday morning.

The Arctic Circle Jukola is organised by Ounasvaaran Hiihtoseura (Ounasvaara Ski Club) and the competition area is to the west of Rovaniemi, in the hill area of Mäntyvaara-Vennivaara-Ollerovaara. The last time the Jukola Relay was organised in Rovaniemi was in 1980, and the race took place on Rovaniemi’s most famous hill, Ounasvaara.

For many years, the Jukola Relay has been the largest recreational sports event in Finland, with more than 18,000 orienteers and recreational athletes racing every year. When you include the number of orienteering club members, team support staff, media people and the spectators that follow the event through the night of the event, the total number of Jukola guests is more than 50,000.

More than an orienteering race

The Jukola Relay is much more than the world’s largest orienteering relay event. For many families, it is the highlight of the summer and a great way of celebrating the beautiful white summer nights in Finland. Its unique atmosphere is a mixture of a festival feeling and a sense of community. One of the attractions is that at Jukola, world-class athletes run the same tracks as the recreational orienteers, along with those trying the sport for the first time.

The Jukola atmosphere attracts a variety of people, some come to do volunteer work, some to support their favourite team, or an unknown team, some to work as assistants and some simply to watch. You can watch the teams’ progress on giant screens at the competition centre all day and night. Spectators in camping chairs in front of the screens are a familiar sight at Jukola.

The competition area at the Arctic Circle Jukola is like a small town. As well as the race, you can enjoy great food in one of the many restaurants in the area, stop by the malt control point, pick up some new sports gear in the shops, or calm down in the forest church.