There’s loud music, headbanging and crowds of screaming fans. Only the guitars are missing. At the annual Air Guitar World Championship in Finland, showmanship is more important than musicianship.
The elite among the international air guitar scene don’t just gather each year in the Finnish city of Oulu to shake their long hair and jump around on stage, but also to strive for loftier humanitarian goals.
“The purpose of the Air Guitar World Championships is to promote world peace,” reads the official website. “According to the ideology of the Air Guitar, wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear, if all the people in the world played the Air Guitar.”
Now in its 21st year, the Air Guitar World Championship takes place from August 24-26, with the grand finale on Friday evening. Last year’s winner, Kereel “Your Daddy” Blumenkrants (pictured above), was the first-ever medalist from Russia.
He’ll be defending his title against competitors from around the world. National preliminaries are held in 10 countries, each of which boasts a strong air guitar scene: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, the Netherlands, and the United States.
On Thursday, a Dark Horses’ Qualifying Round is held for participants from countries that don’t hold national preliminaries.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are handed out at the grand finale on Friday night. The winner also receives the one thing he or she needs most: a guitar, hand-made by Finnish guitar maker Matti Nevalainen.
As the results from the past two decades reveal, Finland and the US have regularly made strong appearances.
The Air Guitar World Championships takes place as part of the Oulu August Festival, which runs from August 4 to September 3. The month-long cultural event features music, cinema, literature and other performing arts.
What would a trip to Finland be without a visit to the sauna? Side activities, including local sightseeing and a unique floating sauna are on the agenda.
Click through the gallery below for other unusual world championships.