The Festival of the Century: the 1800s

The Festival of the Century is a new historical knowledge festival, presented by the Danish University Extension in Aarhus (Folkeuniversitetet) and Aarhus University. In 2012 the theme of the festival was the 1700s and over 40.000 people were participating.

Every second year you can experience history come alive across the urban landscape of Aarhus and the city’s cultural institutions. This year more than 300 events will make up a densely packed programme for the ten days of the festival with concerts, lectures, dinners, and activities to satisfy all age groups and everyone’s taste. You can listen to the trendy tunes of the time, be part of the eighteenth-century aristocracy, and learn more about everything from slave trade and great discoveries, to industrialization and fight for women's rights.

We warmly welcome you to a festival out of the ordinary. Look forward to historical experiences in the cross field of knowledge, art, and culture! On this page you can read more in detail about the many festival events where speaking Danish is not necessary.


Three events in English 

City walk: Aarhus in the 19th Century
19th century Aarhus was a small city on the edge of something big. During the century the city increased its population tenfold and the city became industrialised. On this tour we shall follow the trail of old Aarhus and its inhabitants to see what kind of city Aarhus was 150 years ago. Come along and 'meet' merchants, smugglers and poor people.

Lecture: Denmark in the 19th Century
The 19th century shaped Denmark as we know it. During the 19th century, the Danish national identity was formed. In the early 1800's, Denmark suffered several great losses. In 1801, the Danish fleet was bombarded by the British. A few years later, Denmark as a nation went bankrupt. In 1814, Norway, a significant part of the Danish Realm, was ceded to Sweden in exchange for peace. Finally, in 1864, Denmark lost Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia. During this period, however, Denmark gained a constitution in 1849. These losses led to an artistic and literary golden age, to new conceptions of the nation, and to a strong sense of nationality.

Breakfast for International Families
The Main Library welcomes international families to a breakfast event, where you can meet other international families, hear inspirational talks about the 19th century and participate in a quiz about the century.


Events where speaking Danish is not necessary

Pop-up exhibition: Aarhus Flashback
Go on a trip through central Aarhus and experience 14 large displays with paintings and photographs from 19th century Aarhus. Every display is placed on the exact spot in the city that the image was originally taken, and it creates a surprising contrast to the modern townscape. Every painting and photograph is accompanied by a story. You can print out the map of the path on this website and follow the path systematically. Alternatively you can chose to stop and take a look, whenever you pass a display randomly. The project is funded by Aarhus Stiftstidendes Fond.

Photo exhibition: Photographic interpretations of the 1800s
Drop by Galleri Christina Lykke where five photographers display their individual interpretations of the 1800s.The photographs attempt to capture the spirit of the five festival themes. Come join the opening of the exhibition on Friday 7 March from 15.00-18.00.

Performance: Burlesque
Burlesque is an extremely comical, unrestrained and amazing work of art! The Burlesque-shows combine satire, performance-art and adult entertainment. Through music, literature and dancing different artists will impersonate and imitate people and thematics in revealing ways. Burlesque is a sexually revealing genre, which originated around the 1850s in the US. Different artists take the stage every night.  

Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor
Till death do you part… When used as a pawn in a game about political family feuds an innocent woman loses her mind, and she is manipulated into letting go of her lover. Donizettis Lucia di Lammermoor combines fabulous music with virtuoso vocal performances to tell a gripping tale of madness, murder and love. The opera will be performed in Italian with Danish supertitles.Cast: Danish and international opera singers at Den Jyske Opera / the Danish National Opera, the Danish National Opera choir and Aarhus Symphony Orchestra

Concert: Romantic music, singing and opera
Come experience an entertaining hour full of singing, chamber music performances and opera from the Romantic period. The Corde di gioia ensemble will make the works of Schubert, Massenet, Tchaikovsky and Verdi come to life in a not so serious manner – prepare to be surprised as we go along. The ensemble performs in costumes from the actual period, which are made based on paintings, fashion magazines of the time and existing costumes.

Games: The 1800s for children
During the Festival of the Century Concert Hall Aarhus will be hosting a variety of performances, old-fashioned games and music events for children. The Old Town, Teatret på Hjul, Aarhus Musikskole and Musikskolen Laura have joined hands in making a number of events about the 1800s for children between the age of 3 and 6.  

Workshop for children: Full steam ahead at the children’s library
We take a close look at machines and interventions. A lot of the machines that we know today were invented in the 1800s. This week you get to not only see the machines but also touch them and try them out. Come play with steam engine models, trains and other inventions from the 1800s. Go to the library website for a detailed programme.  

Exhibition: REmantics
Galleri V58 has chosen to revive and display the Romantic era. At the REmantics exhibition the artists of the gallery will present one new piece of art each. The pieces are inspired by different works of art from the Romantic period, and each artist has decided for him- or herself how to do the interpretation. It may be a paraphrase, a reinterpretation or something completely else. In this original exhibition the artists try to show the different ways in which the Romantic period can continue to inspire contemporary art.  

Choir concert
On the occasion of the Festival of the Century Kor71 will contribute by doing a large concert in which they perform Danish songs of the 1800s. Experience the choir perform ’Ved Solopgang’ by N.W. Gade and ’Foraarssange’ by J.P.E. Hartmann’s and H.C. Andersen along with movements by Lange Müller and Rung. Normally Kor72 is equivalent to Århus Kammerkor, but on this occasion the choir will consist of singers from all over the country. At the concert Århus Kammerkor will themselves be performing ’Forår og sommer’ by Heyse. The choir is accompanied by a piano.  

Concert: Early and late
Witness a concert with the Church of Our Lady choir, string players from Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, organist Poul S. Jacobsen and conductor Murray Stewart. The programme is varied and offers you a taste of both the early and the late 1800s. The different artists will interpret the works of Fr. Schubert, Antonin Dvorak and others.  

Working factory and store: Children’s toys and handicrafts
In the 1800s the word ‘childhood’ emerged as a concept in its own right. As a result the production and sale of children’s toys started booming. In Hjulet No6 we mimic the production of children’s toys and handicraft products from the 1800s. We spin wool into thread, produce homemade balls and embroider name rags or small pin cushions – just as the schoolgirls of the 1800s did. The store is filled with period items such as balls, embroidered books and little empire dresses for the girls. Come take a look! 

Night church
When darkness falls upon the city, the Church of Our Lady opens its doors for midnight mass. Social conflict of the late 1800s is the overall theme of the night. The city churches of the time in particular did great work to place social efforts on the agenda. Experience the beautiful church room lit by candles, as it looked 400 years ago. You can come and go as you please. Sit down for just a moment or immerse yourself in the relaxing atmosphere for hours, all the while listening to the music, lighting candles, saying your prayers, or meditating. The time is yours. Coffee, tea and home-made cake will be served in the church café.  

History for dinner
Visit Godsbanen where Thorvalds restaurant and Projekt Mandemuseet invite you to participate in a feast inspired by the 1800s. Great personalities from the 1800s such as Johanne Luise Heiberg and N.F.S. Grundtvig will be joining you at the table. Encounter several historic celebrities, while you enjoy the meal of the evening. Make conversation with them, ask questions or listen to their stories. The menu will be published on the website.