Turku Book Café is a mostly volunteer-run co-operative vegan café hosting a variety of cultural and societal events ranging from reading circles to band nights in the old centre of Turku. Always free entry, mostly all-ages as well.
Opening hours and location
The café is open on weekdays 11.00–19.00, and often, in case of various events ranging from discussions to film screenings, later at night and occasionally on Saturdays and Sundays (see our calendar). In early July we are on a summer break for a couple of weeks, and we are closed during the Christmas holidays as well.
We are located at the Brinkkala Inner Courtyard, Vanha Suurtori 3, 20500 Turku. See the map!
In November 1981, inspired by the book café culture in Berlin, Copenhagen and a few cities in the neighbouring Sweden, a group of young left-wing and anarchist student radicals opened their own book café in Turku, Finland. Their desire was to import interesting pamphlets and critical academic literature to Finland, and to create a grassroots meeting place and a scene for dialogue in Turku. Fed up with the party political climate of the 1970s university and other institutions, they wanted to break free from all factions, including the ones they had previously adhered to themselves.
The location of the café has changed a couple of times, as well as the people running the place, but what stays the same is the desire to provide an alternative, whatever this might mean. Currently it encompasses, for instance, distributing zines and books from small publishers, stirring up conversation and organising debates on interesting topics, importing coffee directly from Zapatista co-operatives in Chiapas, and being the first vegan café in Finland. Thus, the core remains the same; coffee, books, and discussion. Another original idea still strongly at work here is the desire to be uncommercial; no fee is required for a glass of water or the use of toilets, and all our events are free of charge.
After three decades of varying activities and a few generation changes, the Book Café – or Kirjakahvila in Finnish – remains a mostly volunteer-run co-operative. Today it resides in the historical centre of the Old Turku, at Brinkkala Inner Court, but the everyday programme is as diverse as the people who currently run the place. Within the walls of the Book Café you can participate in reading circles and book club meetings, listen to interesting lectures and (mostly local) bands, party in uncommercial queer clubs, watch documentaries and other films, enjoy monthly exhibitions by aspiring artists – and, of course, organize all these things and so much more yourself!
Renting and catering
It is also possible to rent the space for private occasions. The rent is 30€/hour on weekdays before 22.00, and 50€/hour after 22.00 and on weekends. Please note that private occasions held at Kirjakahvila are subject to same regulations as those held in other restaurants licensed to serve alcohol – i.e. you can’t bring in your own alcohol!
We can also provide (vegan) catering for your own occasions.
If you wish to rent the space, contact the secretary of the cooperative Arska Sipilä (info (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org).
For inquiries concerning catering in the Book Café and beyond, contact tilauskahvitukset (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org, or, on weekdays 9–11, phone 02-469 1396.
All Kirjakahvila volunteers can be best contacted via email, firstname.lastname@example.org (without umlauts).
Co-operative: the secretary of the co-operative Arska Sipilä (info (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org) can tell you generally about the Book Café activities and cultural events, renting the space, administration, finances, etc.
Volunteering: If you want to volunteer at the Book Café, contact volunteer (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org.
Bookshop: the bookshop team, kirjala (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org.
Gallery: the gallery team, galleria (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org
The gallery team is in charge of choosing the exhibitions, advertising them, and putting up the exhibition with the artist(s). How to apply for an exhibition.
Music: Small-scale live music events are held every now and then. We have hosted gigs from all kinds of performers from singer-songwriters to hardcore punk bands. Due to our uncommercial stance, all events held at the Book Café are free of charge, so we can’t pay gig fees to the performers. Non-local artists can be offered a maximum of 50€/event for travelling costs. If you still want to perform at the Book Café, contact the music team, musiikki (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org, preferably with links to your band page or music.