Frequently seen as the Swedish door to Lapland, Umeå has a lot more to offer than well-defined seasons, gorgeous great outdoors and a unique and bustling University scene. Especially since it has become one of the two European Cities of Culture this 2014 along with Latvia’s capital, Riga. And that’s not an easy task. Trust us. After visiting them both last January, today we’d love to share the warmth, light and endless fun we have experienced in this city that made us overcome freezing cold temperatures and snowstorms.
Ready to culturally shine for the next 12 months, from Sami (sapmi) Culture to world-class concerts and happenings, from a plural “Burning snow” ceremony to ice-castles where the kids could play; Umeå showed us that it has something for everybody. These are, in our opinion, its main assets and highlights to succeed as the northernmost European Capital of Culture ever.
HAPPENINGS AND GUEST PERFORMANCES IN RADHUSESPLANADEN
Competitions, exhibitions, public speeches, guest performances, ice sculptures, crafts, shadow play, music, traditional dishes, warm drinks and many more awesome things took place in Umea’s main street during the whole weekend.
BURNING SNOW CEREMONY
Two hours (1st one waiting for the show to start and the second just capturing every single part of it) and a thermometer in the minus ten-ish mark. No pain, no gain. The pain, though, was more than acceptable should you were, like us, dressed with layers and snow clothes while enjoying a first row place sipping warm wine and shooting our cameras.
SNOW CASTLE AT RENMARKSTORGET
Not just for kids, this huge ice structure was one of the funniest city spots. While waiting for the winter to leave and melt it down, we believe it’s still possible to enjoy a ride if you hurry!
Sorry, no pictures of this one because it was so precious that any shutter little noise would highly disturb the atmosphere of the Sami Chinese dance performance we attended. Anyway, you will have to believe that this is one of the best Umeå venues for culture: its Opera. And this year they are packed with performances and events to cater all cultural needs out there.
GUITARS – THE MUSEUM
Not every city can say they have dedicated a whole historic building to guitars. Home also to a great bar with a mini stage where live music takes place in special occasions, the awesome and recently inaugurated Scharinska club and a music shop; Fender, Gibson and other brands’ guitars have been displayed with an exquisite taste in the upper part of the complex. A must.
Right on time for Sune Jonsson Centre for Documentary Photography’s opening (with Royal presence included!) as well, it also features three or four permanent and temporary exhibitions year round.
TRÁHPPIE AND GAMMLIA – SAMI CULTURE
With reindeer just outside Umea’s city boundaries, Sami Culture is a vital part of Västerbotten’s history. Traditional constructions and savoir faire were presented to us while visiting Tráhppie and Gammlia open air museum premises. Luckily us, we could also experience delicatessens like coffee with cheese and dry reindeer meet. Delicious!
WELL DEFINED SEASONS AND GREAT OUTDOORS
Northern lights and midnight sun, frozen lakes and blooming summer, Umea has it all so remember to dress accordingly. Because cold and hot are usually tamed with the right outfits!
Check what else Umeå 2014 has to offer and tell us what we have missed! It’s about time that we come back!