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Culture in Denmark

Denmark is a journey through the colours, flavours, textures, life, music and warmth of a Nordic land. On these pages you can learn more about Denmark's rich culture.

This section is intended to give you a brief introduction to Danish culture - looking at everything from our cycling culture to the fine arts and cuisine. You can learn more about Danish architecture, cycling, the music and theatre scene, design and fashion and gastronomy.

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Architecture

International heavyweights such as Arne Jacobsen, Jørn Utzon and Henning Larsen have long since placed Denmark on the architectural world map. As a visit to the country will quickly confirm, contemporary Danish architects continue to shape urban Denmark with a sense of high quality and very modern building design.

One of the largest urban projects in Scandinavia is underway in the old port of Copenhagen - Nordhavn. Nordhavnen is probably the most extensive and most ambitious metropolitan development project in Scandinavia in the years to come. As an urban development project, Nordhavnen spearheads efforts to improve climate conditions and show how cities can help reverse climate change without losing out on quality of life, welfare and democracy.

For more information visit the Danish Architecture Centre.

Design and Fashion

Despite Denmark's relatively small size the Danish fashion and design scene is well known throughout the world. Danish fashion and especially design have become famous for its simplicity and functionalism, but that is not all that defines modern Danish design and fashion.

For more information about Danish design visit Denmark.dk.

The Danish fashion industry is going through a boom period spurred on by a renewed interest in Scandinavian and Danish fashion. This interest is being driven by a number of successful designers, international fashion fairs and two annual fashion weeks which have put Copenhagen and Denmark on the fashion map. The largest of these fashion fairs is found in Copenhagen which has become Europe’s fourth largest fashion city. Copenhagen Fashion Week, as it is known, aims to boost the Danish fashion industry as well as draw in inspiration and talent from all over the world.

Music and Theatre

The Danish music scene offers a wide variety of genres and traditions, so you are bound to find something that you will enjoy when listening to music from Denmark. Also, Denmark has a long and vivacious tradition for music festivals around the country. The Danes just love to meet, listen to music and have a good time. Denmark offers music festivals for every taste: jazz, rock, electronic, experimental, folk, traditional - you name it.

For more information about music in Denmark visit Denmark.dk.

The Danish theatre scene also offers a wide scene. From the impressive old Royal Danish Theatre in the city centre of Copenhagen to the brand new Royal Danish Playhouse (Skuespilhuset) and the stunning Opera House on the waterfront, Copenhagen is buzzing with Danish and international theatre.

For more information about theatres in Denmark click here.

Gastronomy

The Danish food culture is experiencing a renaissance after many years in a lull. It is especially the rise of the New Nordic Cuisine which has prompted this increased focus on Denmark as a culinary nation – Copenhagen alone holds 11 prestigious Michelin stars.

To learn more about Danish food culture click here.

Cycling

Every morning at around 7am, Copenhagen comes to life. Men in business suits, women fashionably dressed in the latest styles down to their high heels and parents transporting their children in cargo bikes, all hop on their bikes and get off to work or school. This could be the script for a TV ad on climate change or healthy living but, in fact, it is just a natural part of most Copenhageners’ lifestyle. Cycling is the single most popular means of transport in the Danish capital. More than half of the city’s population use their bikes on a daily basis and they end up cycling more than 1.2 million kilometres daily.

What’s the story behind the success?
First and foremost, to make a city more ‘bicycle-friendly’ it is important to have viable infrastructure, to assure safety and comfortableness, but also to have viable policies – the political will to make access for bicycles in public spaces a priority is essential. Copenhagen as a cyclists’ paradise was not constructed over night. It has been decades in the making and the consistency in prioritizing cyclists on the street scene goes a long way – and a long way back – to explaining why there are more bikes than citizens in Copenhagen today.

Secondly, you need to change public perception. In some countries cycling is considered a sport or recreation for the white middle class or a means of transport for the poor and not much in between – despite the fact that the bicycle was a main feature in the urban landscape all over the world only a couple of generations ago. In ‘emerging bicycle cultures’ you will often also find a lack of respect for cyclists in traffic which does little for making cycling attractive. It is important to acknowledge that urban living and cycling go better together than any other kind of kind of transportation. As long as the common understanding of mobility is connected to driving a car, the task still has a long way to go.

Cycling in Dublin

Cycling in Dublin is enjoying a comeback. Since the launch of the Dublin Bike scheme in 2009, more than five million journeys have been made. Bike shops around the city have never been busier as people buy their own bike through the tax saver ‘bike to work’ scheme. Dublin City Council’s annual traffic count shows bikes to be the only mode of travel on the increase in the inner city cordon.
As more and more people experience the pleasure of moving around the city by bike we start to get a virtuous circle effect. As more people cycle in Dublin, cycling becomes more ‘normal’ to all Dubliners. This builds popular support for cycling and induces more people to give it a try.
As cycling numbers grow so does diversity and non-cyclists begin to recognise people like themselves on bikes. Dublin Cycle Chic is about encouraging people to cycle by portraying cycling as a mode of transport that can be stylish, convenient and fun - as well as being practical.
Dublin has terrific cycling potential. The city is quite flat and the majority of people living within the M50 live less than 5km from their place of work or study – a distance that most people could comfortably cycle in 25 minutes. Dublin could become one of the great cycling cities in Europe – if Dubliners choose to make it so.

One of the keys in the success of the Danish bicycling culture is the infrastructure in Denmark. This and many other issues related to cycling you can find information on at the website of the Danish Cycling Embassy. Of course a country that claims to be a bike has a cycling embassy!

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