Finnish sauna for Yarmouth shoppers

Victoria Nicholls Shoppers wandering through Yarmouth market place for their weekly groceries may be forgiven for doing a double-take when they catch a glimpse of what appears to be a garden shed with steamed-up windows.

Victoria Nicholls

Shoppers wandering through Yarmouth market place for their weekly groceries may be forgiven for doing a double-take when they catch a glimpse of what appears to be a garden shed with steamed-up windows.

One of the quirkier sights of the town's Out There arts festival, this traditional Finnish sauna will entice shivering shoppers in by beaming out images of wintertime in Finland, while a wood-burning stove will fire up the temperature inside.

Open to the public from Friday to Sunday, the sauna is the creation of Finnish sculptor Kari-Petteri Kakko, who wants people to indulge in some relaxation, at the same time as learning about his country's customs. “It's a bit of fun,” he said. “It's also a way of spreading the Finnish culture - it's very much a way of life. People have been born and died in saunas - up to about 100 years ago women used to give birth in saunas. When people arrive in a new place to build a home, the first thing they build is a sauna.”

Mr Kakko, who uses his own electrically-heated sauna nearly every day, said: “It's a really good way to end the day - it can be for spiritual cleansing or physical relaxation.”

He added: “In Finland we usually get naked, although when we don't know each other, men and women use separate sections.”

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Shoppers will be relieved to hear that anyone wishing to use the 10-person sauna is asked to stay covered up with a swimming costume.

Young people at the Yard project in Lowestoft are putting the finishing touches to the sauna, which is being made out of recycled wood. Ricky-Lee Hibbert, who is working on the project with Scott Busby, who are both 16, said: “It's something different. I don't think people will expect to see something like this in Great Yarmouth.”

The SeaChange Arts charity's £180,000 Out There festival boasts comedians, street artists and musicians who will transform the town centre into an international festival arena. It started on Saturday and runs until Sunday.