Germany city of Essen is the official European Green Capital

During a creative orchestrated stage show, the Lord Mayor of Essen Thomas Kufen launched the title year together with the EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella. Other well-known guests included representatives from the EU, the Federal Government and the State of NRW, such as German Federal Minister for Environment Dr Barbara Hendricks and Minister for Environment for North Rhine-Westphalia Johannes Remmel. Many thousands of visitors came to the subsequent Culture and Families Festival in the Grugapark.

The Lord Mayor of Essen Thomas Kufen emphasised: “Our motto for 2017 is to ‘experience your green miracle’. We would like to invite people from Europe and across the globe to visit us in 2017 and experience their own green miracle. Our city offers many surprises – the opening weekend proved this impressively.” The third greenest city in Germany showed what it was capable of during the Culture and Families Festival. The themes accompanying the City of Essen throughout the title year turned into life in the form of illuminations, dance, theatre, sound installation, light labyrinth, walking acts, exhibitions and much more.


For example, the exhibition “from green to grey to green +” emphatically showed how not only the future but also the DNA of Essen is green. The history of Essen starting with the era of the abbesses convent around 1620, through the industrialization period around 1920, and right up to the present day and future was displayed in three overseas containers in the form of silhouette scenery and accompanied by faithful sound installations.

The two rivers flowing through Essen form important elements of the Green Capital year. The Emscher, once the wastewater river of the Ruhr Area, is currently being renaturalized by the Emschergenossenschaft until 2020 as part of a century project. And from this May, it will be officially allowed to swim again in the Ruhr at a swimming spot at Lake Baldeney. The “Storm and Water” performance took the visitors away into a mystic seascape containing a fierce fight for water as elixir of the world. The exhibition “Occupied”, which consists of 20 mobile toilet cabins, displayed sanitary culture and the paths of wastewater.

The mobility of the future will often be at the centre of attention in 2017, with cycling being one of many aspects. “Bike Beats” gave this means of transport a voice at the weekend by forming a cycling orchestra with sounds created with saddles, spokes, air pumps and bike bells.

Other important topics for the Green Capital year include climate and energy change, sustainable food and gardening in the city. These were all part of the opening weekend programme in the form of artistic performances and hands-on activities.

Simone Raskob, the head of the City of Essen’s environment and building departments, and also project manager of Essen’s European Green Capital project, promised: “In 2017, we would like to show our city is bursting with green, not only visibly in parks, gardens and river banks, but also within the hearts and heads of our citizens.”

The activity „My Greenery and I“ impressively showed how people in Essen identify with their Green Capital: Numerous amateur photographers followed the city’s appeal for pictures of the personal green spaces in Essen. The result is an impressive exhibition with 155 pictures.

Over the course of the weekend, the visitors also made a mark for an even more environmentally-conscious future. The unusual entry deposit: a used plastic bag. Thousands of plastic bags will form an impressive piece of art over the course of the Green Capital year.

About European Green Capital – Essen 2017
The award “European Green Capital 2017” was bestowed on the City of Essen by the European Commission on 18th June 2015. The title is awarded to a European city, which has demonstrated high environmental standards and follows ambitious targets for further improvement of environmental protection and sustainable development on a permanent basis. Essen is the greenest city in North Rhine-Westphalia and the third greenest city in Germany. Over the course of the Green Capital year, numerous events, congresses and citizens’ projects will take place, in order to trigger sustainable processes and developments, which secure and enhance the quality of life in the City of Essen on a permanent basis. The contributions of members of the public play an important part in this.

The City of Essen, which is the only European city to have been awarded the titles Capital of Culture (2010) and European Green Capital, is entering into a green decade in 2017: The Emscher conversion will be completed in 2020, the results presentation of the KlimaExpo.NRW will be hosted in 2022, and the region also won the bid for the International Gardening Exhibition 2027 last December.

More information: Essen 2017

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