Counting Down to Aarhus 2017

Aarhus 2017: The European Capital of Culture is coming.
Highlights on the programme are officially launched.

by Anna Ferrari

A great event is approaching Aarhus: in 2017, Aarhus will be the European Capital of Culture (Europæisk Kulturhovedstad Aarhus 2017). Obtaining the status of European Capital of Culture for one year means to be part of an EU project with the support of the European Commission, Poster Rethink Aarhus 2017aiming at empowering and sharing different cultures in the EU, finding the common European traits and improving the life quality of European cities through art and innovation.

Last Thursday, on the 21st of January, the Secretariat of Aarhus 2017 officially presented a special overview on the programme to the national and international press and to the sponsors, in total about 400 guests, at Turbinehallen.

At the venue, a rustic yet appealing congress hall close to the urban harbour, the excitement was in the air. The Secretariat was eager to show the first highlights, both because they wanted to get everybody fascinated and interested, as well as to put a stop to critical voices from the local media about the secrecy that, according to them, was kept so far on the programme. Truth is, that there is still a long way to go until next year. Therefore, not the whole programme can be disclosed yet.

Two women were in charge of delivering the first information to the public: Rebecca Matthews, CEO Aarhus 2017 Foundation, and Juliana Engberg, Programme Director. The use of videos and colour-changing lights, resembling a symbol of the city, namely the ARoS Art Museum’s rainbow, made the presentation dynamic and of impact.

Dokk1 countdown
On the 21st of January 2017, exactly one year after this presentation, the official opening of Aarhus Capital of Culture will take place in the city. An official countdown was recently installed on the facade of Dokk1, where the administration of Aarhus 2017 has its headquarters. Everybody can now literally see the time approaching and get prepared.


As Programme Director Juliana Engberg pointed out: “Creating new cities produces an environment for risk taking, diversity and talented communities. Importantly, cities become thus global cities”.

What to expect: ReThinking art, music, theatre, literature, food, sport and nature.
A wish list for every taste.Volunteer ReTHINKer

Even if the project’s title is Aarhus 2017, the whole Central Denmark Region with its municipalities will be involved. “We are stimulating a creative region across middle Denmark”, explained Engberg. “We want to unfold its potential to create a desirable and sustainable place to live in. We are working with fashion, design, food, film, the digital industries and architecture to leave a legacy to the generations to come”. Keywords are diversity, democracy and sustainability and the motto is “ReThink”.


Among the many events, here are some of the most surprising ones:

  • ARoS Museum is launching a new international art triennial, whose first project for 2017 is called “THE GARDEN – End of Times, Beginning of Times” and will stretch from the city center to the beach for 4 km. It will reflect on the relationship between man and nature and on the changes in our environment.
  • The Royal Danish Theater – in collaboration with the Moesgaard Museum – will prepare an outdoor performance on the roof of the museum: “Red Serpent (Røde Orm)”, the story of a Viking hero performed by Danish actors.
  • Dance performances, both philosophical and funny, and world-wide successes such as the contemporary ballet “Tree of Codes”.
  • Sailing sculptures like the Life-Boats.Cyclo festival
  • In summer, the bike festival “Cyklo” will challenge everybody to exercise, rethinking the Danish bike culture, making it even more healthy and environment-friendly.
  • The Aarhus Symphony Orchestra will involve musicians from the 28 EU member states and present surprising concerts that will take us across 20th-century-history, exploring, for example, scientific topics such as the Big Bang Theory and Darwin’s studies on evolution.
  • The Danish National Opera, the Aarhus Concert Hall and other choreographers and theaters will bring the Susanne Bier’s award-winning Danish movie trilogy to the stage. Moreover, there will be space for the oldies, but goldies in Danish songs with the contest “Rethink the hits”.
  • In the same year, Aarhus will be also the European Region of Gastronomy, trying to rethink good food and to raise standards at an international level.
  • New talents wanted: there will be contests for new actors as well as for movie and tv-writers.
  • Children will receive special attention. The Vilborg International Animation Festival and an International Children’s Festival of Literature are dedicated to them. Moreover, the children will be involved in thinking of sustainable solutions for global challenges.
  • Imagination will be the focus of the Creativity World Forum, where it will be possible to address questions such as: What will it mean to be human in the future? Or to be European in a global context?

And much more is to come: In total, 350 projects are developing in the city and in the whole region.

A place beyond beliefThe full programme’s launch is scheduled for the 12th of October 2016. In the meantime, it is advisable to stay tuned for upcoming events and plan the participation in advance. It is also possible to get closer as a volunteer, becoming a “ReTHINKer” through the online application here. Even if there are not many tasks for volunteers yet, the administration is working on it.
As CEO Rebecca Matthews underlined: “Denmark will not host another European Capital of Culture soon, and not in our region anyway, so we feel the responsibility to do the best. It is a chance to make the difference, to deliver a magical and meaningful year and to ask big questions about who we are and who we want to be”.

For more detailed information on selected events, go here.