Bodø2024: Half-time for the first European Capital of Culture in the Arctic | Polarjournal
Bodø’s transformation began with the opening of the new concert hall (center) and is now being rewarded with the title of European Capital of Culture. Bodø2024 is the biggest cultural event in Norway for more than ten years and the biggest ever in Northern Norway. Bodø shares the title with Bad Ischl, Austria and Tartu, Estonia. Photo: Dan Mariner / Bodø2024

The Norwegian town of Bodø in the province of Nordland once thrived on the export of stockfish and is now the first town in the Arctic to be awarded the title of “European Capital of Culture”. Among the more than 1,000 events in 2024, the upcoming midsummer events are among the special highlights.

Each of the previous European Capitals of Culture has a unique character and incomparable flair, but Bodø – the first European Capital of Culture north of the Arctic Circle – stands out with its diversity. It is not only the broad cultural program that meets all expectations, but also its location, which allows visitors to experience the midnight sun in summer and the northern lights in winter – and all this embedded in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape that invites you on hikes.

“The longest party in the world, both in terms of time and area covered” – this is how the organizer describes Bodø2024. And that’s not too much of a stretch: more than 1,000 events happening throughout the year, not only in Bodø but in the entire Nordland region, which stretches from south to north for around 500 kilometers. ” There will be music, dance, theatre, gaming, food and drinks, art exhibitions, sports, outdoor activities and more. Everything is presented with our wild and untamed nature as a spectacular backdrop,” the brochure reads. The organizers are hoping for more than 500,000 visitors by the end of the year.

From classical music to outdoor pop-up restaurants, Sámi stories and Cold War history to a 24-hour run under the midnight sun, there really is something for everyone. Most of the events are free of charge.

The program is divided into five seasons that follow the journey of the sun. After the start of the Capital of Culture year in February with “Here comes the sun”, followed by “Spring optimism”, “Midsummer madness” is now just around the corner.

The third season will kick off with the “Midsummer mystery” event on June 22, which will feature games, fire, theater, food and lots of outdoor fun. But the summer also brings many other highlights such as a concert by Brian Adams and several festivals for young and old.

From September, the “Autumn storms” bring new variety before the year comes to an end with “Arctic light” and new perspectives and colors.

The Sámi culture is the focus of Bodø2024. Photo: David Engmo / Bodø2024

The diverse program on Sámi culture, which is central to Bodø2024, is a very special enrichment. “We have entered into a partnership with the Sami Parliament and will spend almost NOK 30 million [around 2.6 million euros, editor’s note] on Sami cultural projects alone,” according to the website. “Right now, the rights and history of indigenous peoples are a hot political issue, so it has a redemptive and reconciliatory effect when a European Capital of Culture places decisive emphasis on this.”

If you like, you can get up close and personal with the Sámi reindeer, experience concert performances with music, pictures and stories, marvel at their art, hike with them through Sámi landscapes or spend the night in a tent and immerse yourself in the Sámi culture.

Opening of “yoUNG2024” – a project with many facets for young people. Photo: Kasper Holgersen / Bodø2024

Another focus is on activities for the younger generation with the specially created program “yoUNG2024”, which was the decisive reason for awarding the title to Bodø. There are festivals, concerts, gaming events, street art, sports, exhibitions, debates and much more for 13 to 25-year-olds throughout the year.

Until ten years ago, Bodø was still the base of the Norwegian Air Force and only experienced a shift in identity with its relocation and the completion of the new concert hall and library, which made its designation as a cultural capital possible after all. Since then, Bodø has developed more and more away from being a mere jumping-off point to the Lofoten Islands and should now be worth a visit in its own right.

“A Capital of Culture that wants to get to know you better.”

A Capital of Culture that wants you to get to know the people who live there.

You’re coming, right?

Aftermovie of the opening day at the beginning of February. Bodø2024

Julia Hager, Polar Journal AG

Link to Bodø2024:

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