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Bodo 2024, Opening ceremony in the Arctic Circle

Bodo 2024, Opening Ceremony Bodo 2024, Opening Ceremony Photo by Bodo 2024

This weekend marked the official opening of Bodø2024, the first European Capital of Culture north of the Arctic Circle. 20,000 attended the spectacular opening show in Bodø Harbour on Saturday evening.

More than four years after Bodø was announced as European Capital of Culture for 2024, celebrations to mark the start of the title year could at last get under way this weekend.

Celebrations fit for a Queen
And they did so in style! First with an official ceremony in Stormen Concert Hall, attended by Bodø2024’s patron Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, as well as a host of Norwegian and foreign VIPs. This was followed by a spectacular outdoor opening show on Bodø Harbour – impeccably timed and expertly delivered by Berlin-based firm phase7 (in collaboration with Nordland Teater) - the kind of spectacle Bodø, or indeed Northern Norway, had never seen before.

20,000 gathered in the streets of Bodø and around the harbour to witness this historic moment, and the excitement was palpable.

The large-scale light and sound show, which lasted about half an hour, was a mix of theatre, dance, drums and music by Nordland composed Raymond Enoksen, and ended with a spectacular closing fireworks display. The Nordland narrative was inspired by, and featured many references to Sámi culture. Sámi artist and activist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen also took to the stage for one final song, and used this opportunity to remind everybody that Bodø (Bådåddjo) is on Sámi land.

Many people later on also attended the sold-out opening concert in Stormen Concert Hall, which featured specially commissioned works for the occasion, by three young Northern Norwegian composers, performed by the Arctic Philharmonic.

Threatened by Hurricane Ingunn
Earlier in the week hurricane Ingunn had battered Bodø with gusts of wind of up to 40m/s on both the Monday and the Thursday, and things hadn’t looked that promising. Indeed the Bodø2024 team were worried they might have to cancel the whole event. But happily, a lull in the weather meant the most awaited event of the year in Nordland could go ahead, much to the delight of locals and visitors alike. A truly memorable moment those fortunate enough to experience it.

Only the beginning
The opening show in Bodø Harbour on Saturday was the first of 1,000 events planned for the year. Other highlights include Europe’s only land art biennale; Midsummer Mischief, Bodø2024’s big summer opening; a Sámi theatre trilogy; a freedom festival; a historical journey along the Nordland Railway; a concert in a submerged cave; a new 10m-high sculpture out at sea; an exhibition exploring the dark side of Nobel Literature laureate Knut Hamsun; a pop-up Sámi museum; Arctic food roadshows and festival; Nordland’s first ever light festival – and much more.

For more highlights see here.
For a full overview check out Bodø2024’s culture calendar here.