Nine Cultural Events for 2024
Photo: Fredrik Larsson
1. Guitars – The Museum 10 years
You don’t have to be a guitar-freak to get enchanted by the stories gathered at Guitars – The Museum. The Åhdén-twins have dedicated a lifetime collecting some of the world’s most iconic instruments and spent a decade spreading the guitar-gospel. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the incredible craftmanship along with entertaining, titillating and – at times – downright chocking anecdotes about the rock memorabilia and its previous owners.
Photo: Philip Avesand
2. Brännbollsyran – 50 years
One weekend every year Umeå is invaded by pirates, phantoms, clowns, and rockabilly-groups wearing soccer-shoes. But don’t worry, it’s not nearly as creepy as it sounds. What started in 1974 as a small college-tournament in brännboll (a Nordic version of softball) has over the course of 50 years developed into one of Sweden’s biggest music events, attracting tens of thousands of visitors, with international superstars taking the stage. The 2024 lineup includes EDM-star Alan Walker, pop-sensation Zara Larsson and the festival takes place at Mariehemsängarna and Nolia from May 31 to June 1.
3. Norrlandsoperan – 50 years
Norrlandsoperan was founded in 1974 and over five decades it has transformed from an individual opera ensemble into a full-fledged concert stage. It is a melting pot of dance, opera, musical theatre, performance, and art under the common vision “a playground for new expression”. Norrlandsoperan made a big splash when it moved outside and delivered its greatest performance ever with Richard Strauss “Elektra”, taking to the courtyard at the military grounds north of the city center for the 2014 European Culture Capital celebration. The 2024 show dates feature – among many other events – the dance show “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, stand up with Magnus Betnér and Nisse Hallberg, symphony by Charlotte Sohy with the Norrland Symphony Orchestra.
Photo: Visit Umeå
4. Väven Cultural Centre – 10 years
A visit to Umeå without checking out Väven would qualify as pure insanity. This is the go-to-place for everything from award-winning architecture and design to film, literature, food and drinks, music and all that makes life worthwhile. The indoor piazza is the number one people-watching spot, the restaurant Gotthards offers amazing dining experiences and the specialist shop Duå is heaven for foodies. Add to that an art house movie theatre, the culture scene Black Box, the Museum of Women’s History and the inspiring Umeå City Library and you get the picture. The building was awarded the Kasper Salin prize for its architecture, and this year marks the ten-year anniversary of Väven’s opening.
Photo: Philip Avesand
5. Listen! – 5 years
You simply can’t miss the sculpture Listen! as it glistens in the middle of Rådhustorget in the Umeå city center. And that’s a good thing. It is as beautiful as it is a significant symbol of the power and rage fueling the Metoo-movement, and the big cat (a cougar? A panther? An overly muscular Norwegian forest cat?) roars for liberation and the fight against sexual assault and harassment. In June of 2020 the sculpture had a minor altercation with a runaway sky lift, leaving the entire artwork a bit crooked and bent, but Listen! soon was erected back to its former glory. The ultimate selfie-spot.
Photo: Peter Hållsten
6. Umeå Smakfestival – 10 years
The people of Umeå go crazy for tasty food and drinks, a fact manifested by the numerous restaurants and bars all around the city. The gastronomic madness reaches its peak during the annual Smakfestival (Taste Festival) taking place at the city center. This summer marks the ten-year anniversary since the very first event and will feature local food trucks, microbreweries, chefs, lectures, contests, and entertainment. Be sure to mark a big red circle around September 5–8 in your calendar.
Photo: Samuel Pettersson
7. Visfestival Holmön – 30 years
Just a short ferry-ride from Norrfjärden, north-east of Umeå, lies the beautiful island Holmön. The sheer beauty of the landscape makes the trip well worth the effort, but it also offers one of summertime-Umeå’s true highlights: Visfestival Holmön. Many of Sweden’s most beloved jazz-, pop- and folk artists – including Eldkvarn, Säkert, Jakob Hellman, Lisa Miskovsky, Sven-Bertil Taube och Mikael Wiehe – has taken the stage over the years. This year marks the 30-year anniversary of the festival and promises to be a memory to treasure.
8. Umåker – 80 years
For 80 years the Umåker harness-racing track has delivered entertainment for horse-race lovers from all over Sweden. In honor of the 80-year anniversary the team at Umåker will stir things up with a new version of Umåkerklassikern with three trials in each class and a grand finale. Not a gambling man? Just come for the atmosphere and pure joy of watching the other visitors display a mix of excitement, frustration, and moments of insanity.
Photo: Philip Avesand
9. Umedalens Sculpture Park – 30 years
Ever since its first show in 1994, the Umedalen Sculpture Park has been known as one of Europe’s most prominent collections. A collaboration between the local company Fort Knox and art house Galleri Andersson/Sandström, the Umedalen Sculpture Park has permanent exhibitions from international artists such as Miroslaw Balka, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor. Every summer around 20 000 people visit the park, located five kilometers from the city center.