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Finnish-America’s Copper Country and the Sibelius Academy Music Festival

Program Number: 20651RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/22/2014 - 9/27/2014;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Hancock, Michigan
Price starting at: $959.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Music Festivals Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Hidden in the scenic Copper Country of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a flourishing Finnish-American community. Immerse yourself in the Finnish-American influence of the area through hands-on workshops, presentations and demonstrations. Visit an authentic Finnish homestead, a copper mine, and the beautiful Porcupine Mountains. Enjoy classical and contemporary performances by student musicians from the world-renowned Sibelius Music Academy of Helsinki, Finland.


• Meet the Sibelius musicians, discuss their music and attend the finale concert of the Sibelius Academy Music Festival.
• Pluck a tune on the kantele, feast on delectable Finnish dishes, and learn some basic folk dance steps.
• Enjoy the scenic views and waterfalls of the Porcupine Mountains--one of the Upper Peninsula's crown jewels.

Activity Particulars

Walking a few blocks; negotiating uneven, sloping terrain. Many stairs on campus and during field trip activities.

Performances are by students from the Sibelius Academy, but may not include compositions by Jean Sibelius.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Hancock (Michigan)

Gateway to beautiful “Copper Country,” Hancock was founded in 1859 by one of the many copper mining companies that attracted Cornish, German and Finnish immigrant labor. Finnish culture still permeates this historic town, from food to street signs.

Comfortable hotel on the Portage Canal, minutes from Finlandia University.
Meals and Lodgings
   Ramada Waterfront
  Hancock, MI 5 nights
 Ramada Waterfront
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Facility on beautiful Portage Lake with breath taking views of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Located just steps away from the bridge and great beaches. Near Finlandia University, the only university in North America founded by Finnish immigrants.
  Contact info: 99 Navy St.
Hancock, MI 49930 USA
phone: 906-482-8400
  Room amenities: Free WIFI, coffee maker, refrigerator, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, cable with over 70 channels (including HBO), free local telephone calls.
  Facility amenities: Fifty-one quiet rooms with king or queen-sized beds. Waterfront Restaurant and Upper Deck Lounge onsite with a beautiful view of Portage Lake. Outdoor seating and boat docks available in summer months. Indoor pool, sauna and whirlpool with a view of the water. Business center off lobby. Coin operated laundry / dry cleaning service available. Coffee available in lobby 24 hours.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Check with hotel. Call hotel for rate details.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Check with hotel. Call hotel for rate details.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in begins at 3:00 PM. Road Scholar registration begins at 4:00 PM. Dinner is served at 6:00 PM. You will be staying at Ramada Waterfront that night.
  End of Program:
9:30 AM after program wrap up session. Hotel check out by 12:00 PM. You will be staying at Ramada Waterfront the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Hotel has free parking on site.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Hancock, MI
  Nearest city or town:  Hancock
  Nearest highway: US Highway 41
  Nearest airport:  Houghton County Memorial Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Hancock, MI
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Airport




Neil's Taxi
phone: 906-482-5515
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$12 per car load
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




7 miles


Cash only

Driving Directions
  Ramada Waterfront Hancock, MI from Houghton County Memorial Airport Take US 41 South to Tezcucco Street. Turn right on Tezcucco St. and then left at Navy Street. Address is 99 Navy Street.
  Ramada Waterfront Hancock, MI from the East Take US 41 North across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge stay in right lane. Turn right off the bridge and follow the signs to the hotel. Address is 99 Navy Street.
  Ramada Waterfront Hancock, MI from the South Take US 41 North across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, stay in right lane. Turn right off the bridge and follow the signs to the hotel. Address is 99 Navy Street.
  Ramada Waterfront Hancock, MI from the West Take US 41 North across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, stay in right lane. Turn right off the bridge and follow the signs to the hotel. Address is 99 Navy Street.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration, Orientation and Welcome!
(Monday, September 22)
 Afternoon: Meet your group leader and receive your packet of materials with the details of your journey into Finnish America’s Copper Country.
 Dinner: A buffet dinner will be served in the Road Scholar meeting space at the hotel.
 Evening: Begin your journey with introductions and orientation led by your group leader. You will be given the details on the program activities and have a chance to visit and participate in an “ice-breaker” with those joining you on your adventure.
Accommodations: Ramada Waterfront
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Finnish History/Author Presentation/Seaman Mineral Museum/ “Meet the Musicians” Sibelius Academy Musician Presentation
(Tuesday, September 23)
 Breakfast: On the Finlandia University campus
 Morning: Enjoy a presentation on the history of Finnish-America’s Copper Country beginning with the Finnish immigration into the area and continuing with an exploration of the unique culture, art, and way of life that were imported with them. A Finlandia University professor and published author will share his writing experiences, which have been heavily influenced by the persevering if not downright peculiar Finns who make the harsh yet beautiful Copper Country their home.
 Lunch: Pasty lunch by Kangas Café
 Afternoon: Explore the many galleries of the Seaman Mineral Museum, which houses the world’s finest collection of Keweenaw Copper District and Lake Superior Iron District Minerals, along with many impressive displays of other North American minerals. This is no ordinary museum!
 Dinner: At the Finlandia Café
 Evening: The “Meet the Musicians” evening will begin with a presentation about Finland’s Sibelius Academy. Sibelius student musicians will talk about their musical paths, the instruments they play, and aspirations for the future. They will welcome your questions and enjoy chatting with you after the presentation.
Accommodations: Ramada Waterfront
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Hanka Homestead/Folk Dance Workshop/Folk Dance with Live Music
(Wednesday, September 24)
 Breakfast: Ramada Inn Continental Breakfast
 Morning: Learn about the old-world ways of the area’s Finnish immigrants on a fieldtrip to the Hanka Homestead. This restored 1920s self-sufficient farmstead is located on a beautiful, remote hillside at the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The house and nine outbuildings were built using Scandinavian techniques for log construction and was the home of Herman Hanka, a disabled miner, his wife, and their four adult children. Restoration of the farm is ongoing. Many artifacts are displayed on the grounds offering a view into life in this remote region of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
 Lunch: On Finlandia University Campus
 Afternoon: Participate in a fun and easy Folk Dance workshop facilitated by expert instructors who will get you stepping right in no time. Or as an alternative, attend a classical Sibelius concert featuring classical pianist Kristina Annamukhamedova.
 Dinner: At the Finlandia Café
 Evening: Enjoy an evening of dancing and music provided by area musicians. Even if you haven’t quite mastered your folk-dancing steps, or don't care to dance at all, you will have a great time.
Accommodations: Ramada Waterfront
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Porcupine Mountains State Park/Adventure Copper Mine/ Lake of the Clouds Overlook
(Thursday, September 25)
 Breakfast: Ramada Inn Continental Breakfast
 Morning: This morning we will head west towards the beautiful Porcupine Mountains. Our first stop will include a guided underground visit to one of the best preserved copper mines in Michigan, Adventure Copper Mine. Trace the steps of miners as you walk through the tunnels and view the large rooms where pure copper and silver were removed.
 Lunch: Enjoy a selection of pizza and the view of Lake Superior from Paul's Superior View Restaurant in Silver City.
 Afternoon: Our exploration of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park begins with a stop at the visitor's center which sits alongside a large old-growth hardwood-hemlock forest. Through exhibits we'll learn the story of the rugged Upper Peninsula of Michigan. From here we'll stop at the Lake of the Clouds overlook as we take a scenic drive through the park to a boardwalk and viewing platforms with spectacular views of several waterfalls along the Presque Isle River.
 Dinner: Dine at the Waterfront Restaurant, overlooking at the Portage Canal.
 Evening: Dinner will be followed by some free time to relax, swim, or take a sauna. This evening, you'll also have the opportunity to attend the opening reception at the Finnish American Heritage Center Gallery, featuring the exhibit of a Finnish Artist.
Accommodations: Ramada Waterfront
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Finnish Cooking and Kantele Workshops/Free Afternoon/A Special Pre-Concert Dinner/Grand Finale Concert of the Sibelius Academy Music Festival
(Friday, September 26)
 Breakfast: Finlandia Café
 Morning: Here’s a workshop you can sink your teeth into! Our cooking demonstration/ workshop: Finnish Foods: Adventures in Tradition. Later, you can feast on the fruits of your labor at lunch. Even the most musically un-inclined can learn to play the five-string kantele. You’ll soon be plucking a catchy tune on this national instrument of Finland.
 Lunch: Dishes prepared in the Finnish cooking workshop or the Finlandia Café.
 Afternoon: Take the afternoon off! You deserve it. A chance to do your “own thing.” Perhaps you would like to visit the campus bookstore, take a walk along the canal, or browse the Hancock and Houghton downtown areas.
 Dinner: Enjoy a plated meal at The Michigan House, a historic restaurant located a block from the Camulet Theatre, where we will attend our finale concert.
 Evening: Attend the Grand Finale Concert of the Sibelius Academy Music Festival at the historic Calumet Theatre. The student musicians will delight and dazzle you with their obvious love for their music. Classical pianist, Kristina Annamukhamedova, will include compositions of Jean Sibelius in her musical repertoire, along with the works of other renowned classical composers. A capella all female vocal group, "Ensemble Norma," will feature a cutting-edge contemporary/folk performance that defies definition. You will be amazed by the talent these young semi-professionals bring to the festival!
Accommodations: Ramada Waterfront
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Our wonderful experience must come to an end as we say goodbye to our fellow Road Scholars!
(Saturday, September 27)
 Breakfast: Ramada Inn Breakfast Center
 Morning: Get together one last time to exchange information and give your input on your Finnish-American/Sibelius Concert experience. Finlandia University can’t resist giving a “test.” Instead of a grade you’ll have a chance to win prizes. So, remember to pay attention—you might win something! Check out from rooms by noon.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Kalevala

Author: Recommend translations by Eino Friberf or Francis P. Magoun

Description: The Kalevala is the great Finnish epic, which like the Iliad and the Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots. It was assembled in the 1840s by the Finnish scholar Elias Lonnrot, who took 'dictation' from the performance of a folk singer, in much the same way as our great collections from the past, from Homeric poems to medieval songs and epics, have probably been set down. Published in 1849, it played a central role in the march towards Finnish independence and inspired some of Sibelius's greatest works.

Bloodstoppers and Bearwalkers: Folk Traditions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Author: Richard M. Dorson

Description: Bloodstoppers and Bearwalkers, based on folklorist Richard Dorson's extensive fieldwork in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, presents and ponders the folk narratives of the region’s loggers, miners, lake sailors, trappers, and townsfolk. This is a great collection of the 20th century folk traditions covering ethnic and occupational traditions in the Upper Peninsula with Finns figuring prominently.

History of the Finns in Michigan

Author: Armas K. Holmio

Description: Written by the former Suomi College (now Finlandia University) archivist, this book details the social movements of Michigan's Finns, as well as the origins of many, if not most, of the state's Finnish communities.

Down from Basswood

Author: Lynn Maria Laitala

Description: Down from Basswood is a collection of 23 interconnected short stories in the form of portraits about people of northern Minnesota, particularly Finnish immigrants and their interaction with natives. This collection of oral history-based tales details the lives of several generations of Finns and Ojibwe in the Boundary Waters area of Northern Minnesota.

Finnish Fibbles, Sagas from Sisula, Tall Timber Tales

Author: Jingo Viitala Vachon

Description: These are 3 different books which are a series of humorous stories detailing traditional ethnic life in the Copper Country Finnish village of Toivola.

Picturing the Past Finlandia University: 1896 to the Present

Author: Karen L. Johnson and Deborah K. Frontiera

Description: A pictorial history of Finlandia University and the cultural influence of the Finnish immigrants. Discusses Suomi College's transition from a seminary to a baccalaureate-granting institution.

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