Northern Celebrations on the South Bank

17 January 2017

Lovisa Bergström and Gustav Olsson

In 2017, a celebration of Nordic art and culture takes place in the City of London. In a spectacular festival lasting for a full year, Nordic artists and companies will bring their culture to London and the world-renowned Southbank Centre. 

The story behind the Nordic Matters Festival begun with a firm belief in the power of the arts to portrait the world and leave us with a changed perception. As the Nordic region continues to attract many in the UK, the Southbank Centre wanted to explore this further and share the Nordic values with audiences in the UK.

“The Nordic region is a great and growing obsession for many in the UK. We wanted to delve a little deeper by exploring the full range of Nordic arts and culture throughout 2017, instead of a single festival of a shorter period. The Nordic Council of Ministers are generously helping to make this possible and Nordic Matters is one of the largest cultural partnerships of its kind,” co-programmers for the centre, Ted Hodgkinson and Tamsin Ace tell The LINK.

The Nordic Matters programming will be embedded in Southbank Centre’s regular festivals throughout the year, ranging from familiar faces such as the Moomins and Lego to the hidden voices of the smaller Nordic nations such as Greenland and the Faroe islands.

“We also want to nuance the idea of a ‘Nordic utopia’, by placing the innovations and artistic creations in their proper context,” says Ace and Hodgkinson.

The theme PLAY will make up a central part of the programme, focusing on young people through encouraging their inherent curiosity and creativity.

“There’s a great belief in the importance of play in childhood and beyond in the Nordics, which leads to world class education and innovations in the arts, technology and more.”

Among other highlights there will be the Imagine Children’s Festival, a dream event for the young builders with enough bricks to build a whole city and hosted by LEGO, a Swedish Baby Rave and the UK debut of Finnish dinosaur heavy metal band Hevisaurus.

The festival will focus on two other key elements, namely sustainability and gender equality.

“We have identified these as areas that will teach us a lot about the region, while also being realistic about the challenges they still present,“ the co-programmers continue.

Other highlights to look out for during the year is bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s launch of his retelling of Norse mythology, comedian and performer Sandi Toksvig who brings a Nordic spin to Southbank Centre’s WOW-Women of the World festival and Festival of Love that will feature a much-anticipated sauna.

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