In 2008 Liverpool (Great Britain) and Stavanger (Norway) became European Capitals of Culture.
There is little overlap between musical Liverpool and partying Stavanger, except perhaps the quality of events they have lined up to mark their stint as European capital of culture.
“European Capital of Culture“ project that started in 1985 in order to support the initiative of bringing the nations of Europe closer together was very special in 2008 because it was the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
Stavanger's ambitious “open port” programme offers architecture, literature, music and the visual arts, bringing together artists of all types, both home-grown and foreign. The overriding theme reads as follows: “Open mind and freedom of expression”. In 2008 Stavanger opened its doors to the public. During celebration of the event in Stavanger the Rogaland region and the surrounding cities were at the centre of attention and presented their own themes.
For the purpose of celebrating the European Capital of Culture event, Liverpool organised some 350 events, most of them free - a mix of art, architecture, dance, cinema, cuisine and theatre. Liverpool 2008 attracted approximately a million visitors from sixty countries worldwide.
Both cities held colourful launch events on 12 January 2008. Liverpool kicked off with Liverpool - The Musical, featuring former Beatle Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. The event was connected with the official opening of the new Liverpool Arena, located in Merseyside.