It is not only Liverpool which has been celebrating its new-found status as European Capital of Culture. At just about one-fifth the size of the Merseyside Metropolis, Stavanger in Norway has been named Capital of Culture too.
It is the fourth time the EU’s Council of Ministers has conferred the title on two centres. And Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja seemed happy to absorb the party atmosphere as they formally kicked off the year.
Both places have flourished thanks to the ocean – Liverpool from its docks – and Stavanger from the black gold deep below the North Sea. Liverpool is planning more than 350 events, including a huge concert featuring Sir Paul McCartney.
Stavanger promises long term residencies from a Lithuanian theatre group, an Israeli dance troupe, and the South African Handspring Puppet Company. A more modest programme on the agenda than Liverpool perhaps, but no less enthusiastically celebrated.