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Saturday, January 17, 1998 Published at 20:15 GMT

World: Europe

City of culture but no snow
image: [ The Ice Pavilion - emergency snow had to be brought in from ice hockey clubs ]
The Ice Pavilion - emergency snow had to be brought in from ice hockey clubs

The Swedish city of Stockholm celebrated the start of its year as Europe's Cultural Capital, with music, dance and fireworks.

Over the next twelve months Stockholm will host some 600 arts projects.

[ image: Stockholm takes over from Salonica in Greece as Cultural Capital]
Stockholm takes over from Salonica in Greece as Cultural Capital
One of the opening events was the inauguration of the Ice Pavilion, an art gallery built entirely of ice and snow in the heart of the capital.

The idea for the Ice Pavilion was borrowed from an ice hotel, which is built every winter in Sweden's far north and billed as the world's largest igloo.

The Stockholm version, built from 100 tonnes of ice and 1000 tonnes of snow, covers about 220 square metres and stands on the Baltic seafront facing the Royal Palace.

It is the pinnacle of environmentally friendly architecture. It will be open to visitors for a month after which the snow will be cleared away and the ice left to melt.

Inside, the building is church-like. The ice and snow dampen sound and the arched roof is supported by pillars of crystal-clear ice transported 1200 kilometres to Stockholm from Swedish Lapland.

It is decorated with sculptures in ice by eight Swedish artists and a bar where drinks are served not on the rocks, but in the rocks: the glasses are made of ice.

But from the outside, the building is something of a disappointment.

Intended to blend with its surroundings and capture the spirit of the Swedish winter, it had the bad luck to open in Stockholm's warmest January since records began in 1873.

As there is no snow on the ground, it had to be brought in from local ice hockey clubs to build the pavilion.

The building is muddy and riddled with holes from melting, although an internal cooling system keeps the structure solid.

But the organisers are not down-hearted. Weather forecasts for next week predict that temperatures will fall to around -5°c from their present 6°c, and snow could be on the way.

Stockholm takes over from Salonika in Greece as Cultural Capital.

Organizers hope the cultural capital program will do for Stockholm what it did for Glasgow in 1990: draw attention to an out of the way city whose cultural assets can get overlooked.

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