Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017

Aarhus, European Capital of Culture 2017, invites visitors to (re)think and be happy

Known as the city of smiles, vibrant and forward-thinking Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city, is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2017 with its theme of 'Let’s Rethink'.
Friday, October 23, 2015

With four major events, 12 ‘full moon’ happenings and more than 300 activities lined up for visitors, Aarhus is gearing up to an extraordinary year of thought-provoking art and culture. A caste of several thousand people, including both Danish and international artists, will be joining forces to create unique, magical moments, that will rethink art, food, music and ballet on a grand scale providing even more reasons to visit Aarhus in 2017. 

Aarhus 2017 Managing Director, Rebecca Matthews, says about the planned events that “For an entire year, we will create spectacular events, extraordinary experiences and magical moments’’.

Rethinking Architecture

As the centrepiece for the celebrations, the harbour area in Aarhus is currently undergoing a major redevelopment programme to create a new Maritime Urban Area, transforming the former industrial area into a new urban space.

Visitors can take a stroll along the charming restored canal with sustainable buildings and recreational areas to the city’s most striking new building The Iceberg, a distinctive angular housing development, which has been designed to take in the sea views whilst reflecting the natural beauty of an iceberg, how it breaks up and floats across the sea’s surface, capturing light. Following a walk around the complex, visitors can take a break at Strandbaren – the Beach Bar – a new area with a lively beach vibe where they will be able to lie on the beach, chill out on HAY furniture with a cocktail, go for a sail or join in one of the many group activities such as volleyball, zumba, salsa and yoga. The harbour will also feature a large waterfront space for concerts and events, while the new state-of-the-art media space, DOKK1, houses the main library and civic centre. Meanwhile on the outskirts of the city, Moesgaard Museum re-opened in October 2014 following a major redevelopment, retells the nation’s story in archaeology and ethnography. In a unique collaboration with the Royal Danish Theatre, Moesgaard will be presenting a spectacular outdoor performance, Red Serpent, about a Viking hero on the museum's grass covered roof. 

Rethinking Art & Culture

An eclectic mix of arts projects are being lined up for Aarhus 2017 drawing on the creative input of Scandinavia’s foremost cultural figures. These include the renowned Danish-Icelandic visual artist Olafur Eliasson, whose 150-metre skywalk installation ‘Your rainbow panorama’ dominates the roof of the city’s ARoS art museum

As part of Aarhus 2017, Eliasson is collaborating with the Manchester International Festival, Park Avenue Armory, Paris Opera Ballet, Sadler’s Wells and FAENA ART and British music producer Jamie XX to create a contemporary ballet that rethinks American writer, Jonathan Safran Foer's book Tree of Codes. Having débuted at the Manchester international Festival in this year the ballet will visit Aarhus with six performances in the Concert Hall in 2017.

The Danish Oscar award-winning film director Susanne Bier is another big name supporting the city’s celebrations with three of her feature films, Open Hearts, Brothers and After the Wedding all getting the ‘rethink treatment’ and will be performed as a ballet, an opera and a musical-drama respectively.

In partnership with European Capital of Culture Aarhus, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum will be making their own contribution to Aarhus 2017 with an ambitious new international art project called THE GARDEN - End of Times, Beginning of Times. Stretching more than 4km along the Aarhus coastline, the project will comprise three parts: The Past – at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum; The Present – in the city centre of Aarhus; and The Future – along the coast and in the forest south of Aarhus. It will explore the significant shift in the relationship between man and nature over the last 400 years showing how various world views (religious, political, ideological or scientific) have materialised in man-made nature and in art.

Rethinking Food

Gastronomy in Aarhus has seen huge advancements in recent years with many new restaurants, bars and cafés adding to the city’s evolving culinary scene and making Aarhus more vibrant and stylish than ever. The kick-starter for the movement was the annual Aarhus Food Festival which has grown to become the largest in Scandinavia and will celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2016. This lead to three of the city's restaurant’s being recognised with a coveted Michelin star for the first time in 2015 and building on these initiatives and showing the strengthening cooperation between chefs and food manufacturers the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism has awarded Aarhus and the surrounding area the title of European Region of Gastronomy for 2017.

Rethinking Where to Stay

In time to welcome extra visitors to the city in 2017, the new ‘Wakeup Hotel’ will be opening offering superb value for money and a level of comfort guests would normally expect from the city’s 3 and 4 star hotels but at hotel prices more in keeping with a 2 star establishment. The Wakeup hotel concept is based on relatively small, yet very well appointed rooms, with furniture from top Danish designers and will offer fabulous views over Aarhus.

For literary lovers further new accommodation will be made available when the city’s main library moves to its new location at Dokk1, by the harbour, making way for the new Library Hostel.

Opening in 2016 in the old library building in Mølleparken, will complement the city's existing accommodation with 100 rooms plus a café and social meeting space for locals and visitors.

Commenting on the plans, Kristian Würtz, Technology and Environment Councillor said “The Central Library is one of the city's most distinctive buildings and a landmark of Aarhus. We will retain the main library's architecture but rethink the content with bedrooms alongside a public café on the ground floor. Its new function of urban life will elegantly match the building's original function as a popular public meeting place.

Rethinking Getting Around Aarhus

Cycling is the perfect way to get around the city and in readiness 2017 an attractive 450km cycle route will be developed. This new bicycle route will take cyclists to various cultural attractions, beautiful landscapes, nearby villages, lakes and along the coast close to Aarhus. A book of maps, plus digital guides and signs will point the way with specially designed cycle shelters conveniently placed along the way for visitors.

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Getting there

Ryanair has direct flights from London Stansted to Aarhus and Billund from as little as £19.99 one-way.

Alternatively, from 3 May 2016 British Airways will be offering daily flights from Heathrow to Billund with return prices from £120. These are in addition to the flights currently offered from London City Airport and Manchester to Billund through the airline’s franchise partner Sun-Air.

Further, there is a new service twice a week between Humberside and Billund or Aalborg. This is run by Sun-Air/BA. 

There are also plenty of flights from the UK to Aarhus via Copenhagen. SAS operates from Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Heathrow, Newcastle and Manchester. Alternatives include easyJet from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester; and Norwegian from Gatwick to Aalborg.

Circle Bridge Copenhagen

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