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TO HULL AND BACK

Take your pick from the programs at two very different European cities of culture

ALTHOUGH 450 miles of cold and choppy North Sea divide Aarhus, on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula in Denmark, and Kingston-upon-Hull, on the northeast coast of England, the two ports have something in common. Stroll on both refurbished waterfronts and you feel the tides of change. In Hull, the futuristic, pointed prow of The Deep—an aquarium and oceanresearch center—thrusts into the broad Humber estuary, while next to the marina new arts venues and craft workshops are filling the sheds and stores of the old fruit market. On Aarhus’s dockside, the dazzling, seven-sided Dokk1 looks like a spaceship, but it holds a state-of-the art library and cultural hub. The reason for all this activity? Both places are 2017 cities of culture.

Aarhus, along with Paphos in Cyprus, is the latest city to win the EU’s Capital of Culture title—a competitive accolade first awarded to Athens in 1985, and now granted to two bidders every year. Hull, meanwhile, has become the second place after Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland to benefit from the U.K.’s own City of Culture scheme. The U.K. devised this domestic spin-off, held every four years, after the success of Glasgow and Liverpool as Europe’s Capitals of Culture in 1990 and 2008.

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