Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sweden's Umea, the Cultural Capital of Europe an Region

The downright eclectic city of Umea is the largest among all the cities of northern Sweden. However, that is not the only reason why the whole world of tourism wishes to be in this place these days. The reason is its vibrancy, its multicultural environment and its sheer dedication to art and artists. Being a home to over fifty different languages, it has accomplished a task that only a few other cities can think of - fifty different languages mean people from fifty different ethnic origins! To top that up, Umea has been titled the Capital of Culture 2014 event. It was an event that welcomed some of the best artists from all over the globe and held some of the best works made of fire and ice. The whole city was transformed!

Cultural values of a place are depicted mostly by the sources of information and record that they have about their history. Culture takes root in history. And Umea has a load of museums that cover an array of topics from the European history. There is Museum of the County of Vasterbotten, Swedish Ski Museum, Gammlia Outdoor Museum and the Bildmuseet Museum of Contemporary Art and Visual  Culture - to name a few.

Coming back to Umea; the city has been named as the cultural capital of Europe jointly along with Riga. Apart from being an honor, this means a year long list of cultural events and one example of that is the City of Winter. The whole event was divided into eight different sections. One saw to it that the whole city got filled with demonstrations of moving visual arts, artists secluding themselves from the world within walls of ice and snow while they survived just with the help of the burning flames, the Square Dome being locked down using blocks of ice to create a mythical atmosphere and an eerie feeling about that is going on inside. There were ice pillars with fires on top to light up the place and then on a lot of places, the usual street lights got replaced with real life fires, it has been the best representation of the connection between the two elements the likes of which Europe has not seen before.  The title of the European Cultural Capital has been very well served.

So why did Umea deserve this? Well, it has been 29 years since the European Union has been selecting deserving cities to hold cultural events throughout the year. And looking at the deep rooted love of this small city with the culture (in the form of museums), music and history, the only other city that could deserve the title was Riga - which it did.