The European Capital of Culture Ruhr 2010 is already a resounding success. Open-air events scheduled for the summer season are expected to attract a further influx of visitors. The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is supporting the project in its role as an official partner.
One of the summer highlights as part of the region’s tenure as the European Capital of Culture is ‘Still Life’. On Sunday 18 July, the A40, the main arterial road through the Ruhr area, which sees the highest density of traffic in Germany, will be completely free of cars. The westbound carriageway will be transformed into the longest banquet in the world with 20,000 tables set up along the 60-kilometre stretch. Each one is a small stage in itself, and together they will form a large meeting place for people of different cultures, generations and nationalities. The eastbound carriageway, meanwhile, is open to all kinds of wheeled vehicles providing they are not motorised.
Throughout the summer and into October, visitors will be able to see six man-made islands of up to 300m² on Lake Baldeney in Essen and on the Ruhr river. Each one of the islands, collectively known as the Ruhr Atolls, is dedicated to the themes of ‘art and science’ and ‘energy and ecology’ in some form or other. Small groups of four to eight people will be able to actually visit three of these artificial islands. Visitors can also take an active part in the project by using their own ‘energy’ to power a boat to the islands.
The largest art project of the region’s European Capital of Culture year is also scheduled for the summer. The Emscher Art Exhibition 2010 focuses on the landscapes along the Emscher river. A total of 24 artists, groups of artists and artist cooperatives have been invited to create installations for a period of 100 days at diverse locations along the river, which reflect this change and which communicate or criticise it. Many projects have been designed not only for viewing, but also for participation and creative involvement. Emscher island is the centrepiece of the project: it covers an area of eleven square kilometres and extends 34 kilometres between the towns of Castrop-Rauxel to the east and Oberhausen to the west. It is framed by the Emscher river in the north and Rhine-Herne Canal in the south.
The programme in the Ruhr area encompasses 300 projects with approximately 5,000 events. The number of events has doubled compared to the original projections. What’s more, the Ruhr area is easily accessible. Located at the heart of the most densely populated area of Europe, 25 million Europeans can reach the region by road or rail in less than three hours.