In the last days of December, the Finnish Turku symbolically handed over the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) title to Maribor and Guimarães during a solemn event. Maribor will solemnly open the European Capital of Culture on January 14 at Leon Štukelj square, followed by Guimarães a week later on January 21.
Even before the official opening of the ECOC, the world-renowned concert choir, Carmina Slovenica, will host the 3rd International Festival of New Music Theatre, CHOREGIE 2012, from January 8-13. On January 12 and 13, the choir will present the latest project by Karmina Šilec, the mesmerizing stage concert, and on the January 14, tableaux PLACEBO or Is There One Who Would Not Weep.
As part of the opening weekend, the Cultural Embassies project will be launched. The Embassies are the first project of its kind and a brand new element in the European Capital of Culture formula. In total, 22 countries are involved in the project. The first 2 to present themselves are Finland and Estonia, as the Finnish city of Turku and the Estonian city of Tallinn were European Capitals of Culture in 2011. Estonia will present Maribor with the title of European Capital of Culture during the flaming spectacle: Fire Sculptures. The Finnish circus group, Sirkus Sudenkuoppa, will demonstrate why the slogan of the European Capital of Culture, Turku 2011, is “Turku on Fire.”
Three exhibitions will be put on display at the gallery in Vetrinjska mansion: the Finnish visual artist Markku Haanpää will present his works, there will be an exhibition of comic drawings entitled Call it a Day by various artists from Estonia and Finland, and a jewelry exhibition showcasing Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian design. The official ECOC 2012 Club will be opened. At the end of the Opening Weekend on Sunday, Marij Kogoj`s opera, Black Masks, – co-produced by the opera houses of Maribor and Ljubljana and directed by Janez Burger – will be premièred at the Slovene National Theatre, Maribor.
The cultural events will invigorate the wider Eastern Slovenian region, as the European Capital of Culture will take place in 6 towns – during the weekends, following the opening weekend in Maribor, events will follow in all partnership towns – Murska Sobota will feature a front of modern dance, Novo mesto will be musically rich, Ptuj will offer a journey from the Kurentovanje event to the “best drop of wine in the world,” Velenje will mainly offer events for the youngest visitors, while Slovenj Gradec will revive the spirit of history.