Construction workers and craftsmen have been in full swing along Oslo’s main boulevard through downtown, Karl Johans Gate, to prepare for Wednesday’s opening of the FIS World Ski Championships (Ski-VM 2011). Saws are buzzing as artists create ice sculptures, stages and outdoor screens have been set up, and refreshment stands are in place.
It’s clear that not all the activity around Ski-VM will be taking place at Holmenkollen and Midtstuen in the hills above the city. There will be cultural displays and entertainment on offer downtown as well.
The goal of the organizers and promoters is to portray Oslo as nothing less than the world’s winter capital. Their choices, however, haven’t escaped criticism. Sony Music and clothing retailer Moods of Norway appear to be the two most prominent participants in the entertainment program, which left the culture and debate editor of newspaper Aftenposten wondering why. He can’t understand why Norway’s most popular bands and singers have been overlooked in favor of Eurovision star Maria Haukaas Mittet singing “a boring and pompous cliché of a VM ballad” (distributed by Sony) and some entertainers called Polka Bjørn and Kleine Heine.
They will, at any rate, be performing every evening during Ski-VM from 6:50pm at Universitetsplass, the square outside the original buildings of the University of Oslo. Other perfomers will include dance groups and musicians before the daily medals ceremony begins at 7:30pm.
Karl Johans Gate, meanwhile, will be lined with ice sculptures and blocks featuring some of the paintings of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. At Litteraturhuset (external link), a center for literature and culture, free lectures will be held every evening on various aspects of sport and culture.
A long list of concerts will also be held in both the Oslo Cathedral (Domkirken) and Holmenkollen Kapell (chapel), and they will feature some of Norway’s more acclaimed musicians including jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen and organist Kåre Nordstoga.
Many local restaurants are already offering special Ski-VM menus and retail outlets are getting in on the hype, selling Ski-VM clothing and souvenirs. One producer, though, had to withdraw its items from the market: A local brewery got in trouble over its “VM Beer” because authorities determined it violated strict Norwegian rules against advertising alcohol. All 300,000 cans were ordered withdrawn from store shelves.
For program details and other practical information about Ski-VM in Oslo, click here (external link).