My Must See List: Umeå, European Capital of Culture

Travel

Umeå

Have you ever heard of the European Capital of Culture? I’m not sure that we have anything similar Stateside but it’s a lovely idea. The concept of the Capital of Culture is that every year a different European city receives the spotlight and the city puts on different cultural events. In the words of the organization itself, the “Capital of Culture [is intended] to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values.” This year, the European Capital of Culture is Umeå, Sweden.

Umeå is a northern Swedish university town. Before we even get to the special celebrations for the European Capital of Culture, I should mention there’s plenty to see and do in the city. In particular, the city has an extensive sculpture garden, Umedalens Skulpturpark, and a contemporary art museum housed in an amazing looking building, Bildmuseet.

Umeå came on to my radar many years ago due to music. They’ve got a rich music scene, especially if you’re into hardcore or punk. Bands like Refused, Final Exit, David Sandström Overdrive and The (International) Noise Conspiracy, all of whom are in my music collection, call Umeå home. The city might also be familiar to you if you’ve read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. The author lived in the city for a period and the city makes an appearance in his books.

But for their special year as the capital of European culture, Umeå are pulling out all the stops. There is no end to the list of scheduled events. They’re also paying special attention to be inclusive of all cultural aspects that make the area different and special. That includes incorporating the Sami, “the EU’s only indigenous people.” A few exhibitions caught my eye: the photo exhibit Life in Västerbotten, Rock Art in Sápmi, and Umeå – The European Capital of Hardcore 1989-2000 (which is being held in the very cool looking Guitars – The Museum). But if you look at the listing, there’s something for everyone.

Umedalen Skulptur

Photos courtesy VisitUmea.se.

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