Culture capital with an edge

Culture capital

One of the fastest growing cities in Europe, and the largest in northern Sweden,

Umeå combines the buzz and excitement of a city with the familiarity and handiness of a small town.

With around 36,000 students, the city has a reputation for being forward-thinking and edgy, and as European Capital of Culture 2014,

it offers visitors an exciting mix of culture, shopping and nature – with a lot of sun.

“It’s not just growing quickly,” says Erja Back, Culture capital

project manager at Umeå tourist board, about the city’s population of 118,000.

“It’s very young as well. A lot of what happens here is a bit risqué.

You might go to see a classic opera, and you think you know exactly what to expect.

But it will probably be a little bit different when you see it in Umeå – it’s in the city’s blood.”

In addition to touring all across Sweden’s largest and northernmost province,

Norrlandsoperan in Umeå is currently preparing to put on a spectacular outdoor opera in the late summer of 2014,

in a collaborative effort with the Catalan group La Fura dels Baus,

world-renowned since its breakthrough performance at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992.

The show, Richard Strauss’ one-act opera Elektra,

is an expressionistic masterpiece about one of the most dysfunctional families in literary history.

Four seasons? Have eight

But whenever you visit, there is something to see.

“You should never get to Umeå and find that there’s nothing on,” says Back.

“The Sámi people – Europe’s last indigenous people – live according to eight seasons, and the event organisers have planned their calendar

with these in mind: every season has its own inauguration ceremony, and every season something in the programme changes.”

So, for example, Bildmuseet, a centre for contemporary art and visual culture,

will present a Sámi themed exhibition for each of the eight seasons,

alongside the work of countless world-renowned artists from Sweden and abroad, and throughout 2014, a whopping 30 festivals will take place.

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