Aarhus ends its year as European Capital of Culture with a festival of lights and music

By My Pham, photos by Aarhus2017

Music and lights will wrap Aarhus in a finale show as the city is planning to celebrate the closing of 2017 European Capital of Culture. The biggest party will take place on December 9th at Aarhus Harbour and more than 75 free music concerts will be organized all over the town.

The closing ceremony consists of a 30-minute show on both land and water with performances of local and professional artists in Hvide Sande. It will be streamed live back to a giant screen at Aarhus Harbour, then followed by further activities here to illustrate a memorable cultural year via sound and images. After the finale show, the public will be invited to a musical festival with more than 75 free concerts of Danish and international bands across the city.

Via the ending event, Aarhus expects to “reflect the energy of the city’s cultural year and send off positive vibrations and cultural fortune towards next year’s European Capitals of Culture,” it said in the cultural year project’s official website – Aarhus 2017.

A ‘Rethink’ year

Aarhus 2017 is a project by the city to create a fresh mindset for changes and innovation and strengthen the region’s identity through artistic and cultural events under the theme of “Let’s Rethink”. Its mission is to create sustainable development which meets present needs without depletion of resources for future generations in all life areas from cultural to human and economic growth. This can be done by searching for new practices, business models, partnership forms and new concepts of growth. The project also aims at encouraging and inspiring Danish citizens to participate more in the European region to enhance the strength of the area.

‘River Art 2017’ event, took place in 15th-19th August 2017 at Silkeborg Harbour and Remstrup stream (photo: Aarhus 2017)

Throughout the year, Aarhus has been hosting a total of 450 events in different fields from sports, arts, architecture to business, nature, etc. and for audiences at different ages. Some highlighted events include “International Children’s literature festival”, “What if Women ruled the world?” and “River Art”. The first two events either invited the best European children’s authors under 40 to write new works based on the theme ‘journey’ or create a fictional platform for women from different walks of life to come together and solve global emergency. Meanwhile, the last one brought to audiences a special performance with beautiful light sculptures on and around the River Remstrup.

“I feel positively about the year! Having lived in Aarhus since 2012, I clearly noticed an increase in the amount of cultural events during the year,” said Jens Renner, a student at Aarhus University. “I think the city has done great in terms of giving the possibilities for a lot of culture to take shape.”

The Opening of European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 in January 21, 2017 (photo: Bo Amstrup)

Aarhus 2017, associated with Aarhus University, has been undertaking several research-based evaluations on the year and its impact on the city and its citizens under the programme called RethinkIMPACTS 2017. Though the main evaluation will not be ready before late 2018, it seems to be promising with more than 80% of audiences who were asked about their assessment on Aarhus 2017’s past 3 mega events said they were either very positive or partially positive, according to RethinkIMPACTS 2017. The three past mega events include ‘The Openings’, ‘Rode Orm’, and ‘The Garden’.

European Capital of Culture was started since 1985 by EU Ministers with the aim to highlight and strengthen diversity of European culture as well as build ties between the region’s different communities. Besides, the scheme has also helped stimulate tourism for undiscovered destination cities. Athens was the first European Capital of Culture.

This year is the first time Aarhus is appointed as European cultural capital and the Jutland capital is also the second Danish city holding this title. Next year’s European Capital of Culture will be awarded to Leeuwarden in Holland and Valletta in Malta.

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