in English

The Karelian Youth League is a non-profit, independent organization promoting and preserving Karelian culture with a round 2000 members (most of them under 29 years old) in over 20 independent local clubs and organizations. We also have a score of individual members who are not affiliated with any of the local clubs as well as a number of other contributing clubs and members.

Our aim is to promote awareness of and to preserve Karelian traditional culture: our main focus is on Karelian folk dance and music tradition, but we deal with all kinds and forms of Karelian folk culture, such as arts and crafts, lore, dialects, games, food and festivities. We also promote and encourage the exchange of folkore in Finland and abroad.

As most of our members are young people and children, we concentrate on child and youth cultural work.

We organize several large annual events, courses and classes in different subjects, trips to Karelia for our members and many local events. We assist our members in promoting their own events and providing assistance when needed. We produce our own teaching materials (books, CDs, leaflets, dance instructions and other) for those working with children and youth or those interested. We also instruct and provide counseling in Karelian folkdances.

We co-operate with folkdance organizations, youth organizations and other parties with interests and aims similar to ours.


What is Karelia?

Karelia can mean – and has meant through history - many things: today’s Finland’s two easternmost counties are known as South- and North Karelia. Before WWII areas between lakes Laatokka and Ääninen (Onego) and between Laatokka and Finnish Bay were part of Finland. These regions and those north of Ääninen have also historically been the home of Finnish (or Karelian) speaking peoples.

Karelia is a frontier that has been fought over and ruled by many different nations over the centuries. Thus Karelians are fast learners, very good at adapting to different situations and environments, optimistic and care deeply for each other and for their traditions. Where there are Karelians gathered, there is always laughter, tears and some more laughter.


Why Youth league?

After the war against the Soviet Union ended in 1945 Finland was in accoradance with the peace treaty compelled to give land to the winner of the war. These areas included (among others) the Karelian Isthmus, areas south of lake Laatokka, Petsamo region in northernmost Finland, archipelago areas in the Gulf of Finland. These regions were home to over 400 000 people which represented 11% of country’s population. They all had to leave their homes.

It is one of the great success stories in history, how these people, the Karelians, found their place in new Finland. New laws and decrees were passed in order to help the fugitives, but it was the Karelians’ hard work, endeavour, optimism and perservance, which helped them make best of those laws.

Karelians formed Karelian League after the war. Its primary purpose was to observe the fugitives’ rights and to assist them in their hardship. Later, when settling was almost finished, the league started conducting cultural work.

In 1980 Karelian Youth League was formed as a response to the need to focus on youth and children in cultural work and education.


Got interested?

If you got interested, we would like to invite you to become a member of the Karelian Youth League – help us preserve Karelian culture and heritage and doing cultural work for children and youth. Take part in our courses and events and other activities and learn about Finno-Karelian culture – because we make it fun!

Download the membership application form here and e-mail it to toimisto (at)
You’ll shortly receive a membership fee (10€ per year) invoice.

As a member you will be entitled to discounts on our events and products. And most importantly, you will become a part of an active organization promoting and innovating Karelian culture to youth and children!

P.S. Check out also our Database of Karelian traditions and folk dances! (in Finnish only)


Contact information:

Karjalainen Nuorisoliitto ry
Sitratori 3
00420 Helsinki
tel. 045 673 3223
toimisto (at)