52: Bodø as European Capital of Culture 2024

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Life in Norway Show Episode #52: We take a look at the exciting plans for a year of cultural events in Bodø in 2024.

Today on the Life in Norway Show I'm joined by Henrik Sand Dagfinrud, the program director for Bodø's year as European Capital of Culture.

Trevarefest in Bodø, Norway
Trevarefest in Bodø, Norway. Photo: Dan Mariner / Bodø 2024

In 2024, the eyes of the European cultural world will fall upon Bodø, a small city in Northern Norway. It's the first time the status has been given to a city north of the Arctic circle.

We talk about the bid process, what the plans are for 2024, and what Henrik hopes the legacy of the year will be for Bodø, Nordland and Northern Norway in general.

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About Bodø and the cultural capital bid

While there are just 30,000 people in the city itself and maybe 20,000 more in the immediate surroundings, Bodø is a regional capital and as such has facilities suited for a city several times its size. At the time of writing, its football club are champions of Norway.

Henrik Sand Dagfinrud, program director for Bodø 2024
Henrik Sand Dagfinrud, program director of Bodø 2024. Photo: Erika Hebbert / Bodø 2024

Although Henrik grew up elsewhere, he has fallen in love with Bodø. “The colder the weather, the warmer the hearts,” he says about the people.

I was curious to find out what prompted such a small city to set their sights on such a lofty status. Henrik explained that the process began many years ago with an acceptance that the city was falling behind in culture on a national level.

Read more: A Guide to Norwegian Art

That prompted investment in new facilities including a smart new library and concert hall. Once the basics were in place, the city decided to pull together and bid to become a European Capital of Culture.

According to the European Commission, the initiative is designed to highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, celebrate the cultural features Europeans share, increase European citizens' sense of belonging to a common cultural area, and foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities.

Bodø, Norway, at night
The skyline of Bodø Norway. Photo: Dan Mariner / Bodø 2024

What to look forward to in 2024

While the detailed program for Bodø 2024 will not be decided until closer to the time, Henrik explained the concepts of the program. They aim to involve as many local people in events as possible.

Henrik also speaks about the importance of Sami people in Nordland and how they are planning to incorporate Sami culture into the year. Since we recorded the podcast, a new Sami theatre trilogy has been announced.

Links from the show

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Bodø Europe Capital of Culture in 2024

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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