The air is filled with excitement and anticipation. This is the day the residents have been waiting for, when they are going to inaugurate the newly acquired title of our city. It's chosen as the European Capital of Culture for the year 2014, along with Riga, the capital city of a neighboring country, Latvia.
I'm not a citizen of this country yet, but I'm a permanent resident, so, of course, I'm also caught in the frenzy of it all. Today after my jobs, I stopped by the city center to see what's being done during this first day of the inauguration weekend (from Jan. 31-Feb. 2). Preparation is in full blast. Those involved in the programs, activities and snow/ice-building projects have their hands full as they make everything ready for tomorrow's grand opening ceremony.
The official inauguration ceremony is called Burning Snow (hmm...quite intriguing title), which will be launched tomorrow at 5:00 pm. It's a show that will set Umeälven, the main city river, artistically ablaze.
During the opening weekend, an event called City of Winter will transform the appearance of central Umeå. Here's how the website describes this event: "Burning ice pillars replace electric lights and lead us on through the unrecognisable city. Huge fires form gathering points. Artistic and self-creative happenings, that you are free...encouraged...to join are taking place here, there and everywhere."
Other highlighted events can be viewed here: Umeå2014 Programs.
Many people, even from other places, came here to witness this historical event, including the Princess and her family, and journalists from other countries who were offered free hotel accommodation. Swarms of onlookers walked about the city today, watching the preparations in several locations, taking pictures and videos, conducting interviews, etc.
I walked about as an enthusiastic spectator, capturing scenes all over.
Setting up the Burning Snow on the frozen river
the city square turns to Sami center
finishing an ice sculpture
outdoor ice coffee bar
Throughout the year, our city will host many tourists from other countries who want to see this European Culture Capital. Some U.S. and British news agencies mentioned Umeå as one of the world cities that are worth-visiting this year. This is just a small and simple city, yet it offers things that cater to the intellect, the aesthetic and cultural minded individuals.
May all, residents and visitors alike, enjoy being a part of this year-round event in our city. I, for one, am thrilled by all of this!