A contest for outdoors lovers: Tree Hugging World Championship in the Arctic Lapland

forest and fireplace in lapland, near rovaniemi. photo by ari hakkarainen
Forest in Lapland near the Arctic Circle.

The country that has brought us the World Championships of Air Guitar (in Oulu, Finland), the Swamp Soccer World Championships, and many more fun events also has a colorful history with tree hugging contests. In fact, in Levi, in the Arctic region of Lapland you can join the annual Treehugging World Championships, usually organized in August.

The developer of the Treehugging contest is a hospitality enterprise Halipuu (Finnish word for hugtree) in Levi, Finnish Lapland. As other enterprises in the region have started to contribute to the event, they have established the World Tree Hugging Association to promote and organize the annual championships.

The actual competition consists of three challenges:

  1. Speed hugging: Competitors have one minute to hug as many trees they can in a forest. Each hug must take five seconds, at least.
  2. Dedication: Contestants choose a tree and show their dedication to it with presence, love, and respect. One minute time limit.
  3. Freestyle: The best creativity gets the points in this challenge. One tree, up to one minute time to show creative action.

The judges review the performances and give points to each contestant.

BBC visited the forest in Levi, Lapland where the World Championships are organized, and learned how the idea for the contest took shape. Trees grow only during eight summer weeks in northern Lapland, meaning that it takes a long time for them to reach the size when they could be chopped down and transported to paper factories. The family simply didn’t want to cut down trees in their forest, but decided to try another way to earn a living.

tree hugging world championships. photo world tree hugging association.
Photo: World Tree Hugging Association.

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