History Written Today: Arctic Bodø Will Be European Capital of Culture 2024

Wild cheers and tears overflowing when the decision in Brussel was announced that Bodø will become European Capital of Culture 2024. (Photo: Siri Gulliksen Tømmerbakke)

Bodø emphasized the region’s Arctic location in its application and was successful in the competition to become European Capital of Culture 2024. It is the first time ever that this title is awarded to a city north of the Arctic Circle.

The Chair of the EU’s cultural expert jury, Jiri Suchanek, made the official announcement at the House of European History in Brussels just before 12 noon Wednesday.

  • High North News streamed from the event. Watch the video here.

- This is fantastic! What a team victory, said Bodø Mayor Ida Pinnerød immediately after the announcement was made.

Bodø competed against two Bosnian cities, Mostar and Banja Luka, for the ECoC 2024 title. It was a very anxious group of application organizers that met with the public during an event downtown Bodø Wednesday morning.

Read more: The Town of Bodø Could Be the First Arctic European Capital of Culture

- All cities have deserved their position on this shortlist, said Chair of the expert jury, Czech Jiri Suchanek, before announcing that Bodø was the winner.

Team victory

- This is the outcome of an enormous team effort and there are many who deserve a thank you, said Arne Vinje, Head of Culture at Bodø municipality, on stage immediately after the announcement. He has been the project manager of Bodø 2024.

- This carries significance not only for Bodø, but for the entire Nordland county, said County Councilor Tomas Norvoll.

Henrik Dagfinrud, who has been in charge of the artistic part of Bodø’s application and is one of the people who have worked on the application for two years, was clearly nervous before the live stream from the Brussels press conference.

However, when jury chairman Jiri Suchanek said the name “Bodø”, instantaneous cheers broke out.

- Yes, okay, you are for or against it, but please do not forget that we are the coolest city in Norway!

See pictures from the event here:

- If we now prove able to carry out everything written in the application, and more, there are so many things that can emerge. And I hope, with four years to go, that we succeed in reaching those we have not been able to reach yet, so that this shall feel as a giant leap for the whole city and the whole county, he says.

Arctic footprints

The EU interest and footprint in the Arctic is growing. The application from Bodø2024, emphasizing the city’s Arctic location, has thus hit the mark, Norvoll believes.

- Now we can help build a new bridge between us and Europe, based on cultural cooperation. In fact, this is our greatest High North project ever. With the experiences we are to create together, we will have friends and cooperation partners who will open doors for us at a later stage. That will be important for us in the future when we are taking new steps into the world, for instance when creating new international events, meeting places and European projects, he says in a press release.

Trud Berg from the Bodø2024 project organisation and Chairman of the Board, Bodø Chief Executive Rolf Kåre Jensen. Photo: Aleksander Ramberg/Bodø kommune.


Bodø and Nordland have worked since 2015 to become the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) 2024.

Following the EU parliament’s 2017 approval of Bodø as an applicant city, the work process gained speed.

In October 2018, a pre-qualification application was submitted to the EU. The following November brought the message that Bodø was selected as one out of three pre-qualified applicant cities, outside the EU, for the ECoC 2024 competition.

Bodø’s application is called “Arcticulation” and encompasses Arctic, art, culture and communication.

The main application was submitted to the EU on 22 August 2019. A total of 45 questions have been answered in the main application.

Cheers and tears of joy in Brussels

A delegation from Bodø and Nordland were in Brussels when the decision was announced. It was a quite thrilled and proud group that received the news from their seats in the audience.

- When we heard the jury chairman say “Bodø”, we jumped to our feed with embraces, cheers and tears of joy. We really felt that it was deserved. This is a great day for Bodø and Nordland, and I do not think we quite realize how big this is. This will create a level of activity and attraction that we have not quite managed to realize yet, says Chairman of the Board for Bodø2024, Bodø municipality’s Chief Executive Rolf Kåre Jensen.

He was present in Brussels at the announcement Wednesday together with Stig Fossum from Nord University, Geir Knutson from Nordland County, Trud Berg and Ellen Sæthre-McGuirk from the presentation committee that had met with the jury the day before.

- That feeling when Bodø was announced was almost indescribable. I definitely shed some tears of joy, said a proud and emotional Trud Berg from the Bodø2024 project organization.