Finland's New Tourism Campaign Wants to Show You Why It's the Happiest Country in the World

Visit Finland
Visit Finland

Finland has been named the happiest country on Earth for the second year in a row, according to the United Nations World Happiness Report for 2019. Recent government and health care reform issues notwithstanding, the Nordic nation has a lot to be pleased about, including a high GDP, strong school system, and long life spans.

Finns are eager to share the keys to their contentedness with the rest of the world. That’s why the country’s travel promotion organization, Visit Finland, is hosting a contest to bring international guests to Finland for a three-day tour this summer.

Dubbed “Rent a Finn,” the initiative will set guests up with a local host family in Helsinki, Lapland, Lakeland, or another part of the country. One guest will stay with Linda and Niko, a couple who live with their chihuahua, Helmi, on a Finnish island in the Baltic Sea. Another will stay with Esko, the mayor of Rovaniemi, which bills itself as “the hometown of Santa Claus.”

These “Happiness Guides” will help visitors connect to nature—one of the ways that Finns relieve stress. To apply, just film a short video introducing yourself and explaining your connection to nature and why you want to visit Finland. You can apply as an individual or as a group with friends or family. Then fill out an online application, upload your video, and submit it before the April 21 deadline.

Eight applicants (plus their friends and family) will be selected for the trip, with the cost of travel and accommodation covered. Guests who want to extend their stay are welcome to do so, but it would be at their own expense.

According to Visit Finland, there have been four times as many applicants from the U.S. than any other country. This isn’t entirely surprising, considering that the U.S. ranked 19th in the World Happiness Report—down five spots from 2017.

You don’t necessarily have to travel to Finland to improve your outlook on life, though. Here are 23 science-backed ways to feel happier without boarding a plane.

Chernobyl Creator Craig Mazin Urges Visitors to Treat the Exclusion Zone With Respect

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Following the success of the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, one tour company reported that bookings to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone located in Ukraine rose 35 percent. Now, series creator Craig Mazin is imploring the new wave of tourists to be respectful when snapping selfies at Chernobyl, Gizmodo reports.

A 2500-square-kilometer exclusion zone was established around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant shortly after its reactor exploded in 1986 and flooded the area with harmful radiation. The abandoned towns are still too radioactive for people to live there safely, but they have been deemed safe to visit temporarily with the supervision of a guide.

Chernobyl has supported a dark tourism industry for years, but thanks to the miniseries, photographs taken there are gaining new levels of attention online. News of influencers posing for irreverent selfies at the site of the nuclear disaster quickly went viral. Mazin tweeted:

Regardless of why people are visiting the site, being respectful in the presence of tragedy is always a good idea. It's also smart to resist leaving a tour group to snap the perfect selfie in some abandoned building: Tour companies warn that breaking rules and wandering off approved paths can lead to dangerous radiation exposure.

[h/t Gizmodo]

A Traveling Harry Potter Beer Festival Is Coming to Several U.S. Cities

If you’ve ever wondered what the alcoholic version of a butterbeer would taste like, you’ll soon have the chance to find out. A series of ongoing Harry Potter-inspired beer festivals are coming to cities across the U.S. in the next couple of months.

According to Rock Star Beer Festivals, which is organizing the event, Muggles and wizards alike will get unlimited samples of 20-plus beers. There will be plenty of adult butterbeer to go around, and for more daring souls, there’s Snape’s Lair of Secret Cider Potions. Is it actually cider, or could it be a polyjuice potion? Attendees will soon find out.

In June, the festival will be coming to Fresno, California on June 21 and New Orleans on June 29. In July, it will head to Philadelphia (July 13) and Boston (July 20). Tickets to the festivals can be purchased through Eventbrite or booked on Rock Star Beer Festivals’ Facebook page under the Events tab. Act fast, though, because tickets—which generally sell for $40 to $45 apiece—regularly sell out.

What else can you expect to see at such a magical event? Rock Star Beer Festivals says the venues hosting the festival will be “transformed into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” with guests being transported to the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, and, of course, the Leaky Cauldron. You’ll also get to snap photos with Hagrid and dance to music by the Sorceress Sisters and DJ Dumbledore. Just be careful not to drink and do magic, or you could end up having an accident à la Neville Longbottom.

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