AOH.DK, the leading news site covering Herning, Denmark, recently reported on our fear that the city might host Eurovision 2014. They rightly point out that some of our team members have never visited the city. Fortunately one of the wiwibloggers has. In fact, she lived there for one year. In the following editorial she explains why Herning would be a disaster for fans that will travel hundreds of miles to see the contest. As she says, “It makes Malmö look like New York City.”
My wildest Eurovision dreams came true in 2013 when I was able to travel to Malmö to see the show live for the first time and to watch Denmark, my favorite country in the world, take home the trophy. I screamed and cheered and celebrated with the other fans, knowing that I’d be able to go back next year to see the world’s greatest song contest hosted in my favorite place.
Almost immediately, rumors started flying about potential host cities for Eurovision 2014. Copenhagen seemed like the only logical choice given its amazing tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants, along with its international airport and efficient public transportation.
But as I read the newspapers the day after Emmelie de Forest won, my heart began to sink. Rather than go for the obvious choice, DR was also looking at small Danish cities. Most Danes understand that these are laughable contenders, but the idea of hosting Eurovision in Herning, a small city of 47,000 situated in the middle of Jutland, has gained popularity among fans as a serious alternative to Copenhagen due to Jyske Bank Boxen, the 15,000-seat arena outside of town. But hosting next year’s Eurovision there will be a disaster for Denmark and for the fans that travel hundreds of miles to see it. I know this because I’ve lived in Herning myself.
I was an American exchange student in Herning in the late 1990s. I knew I was in trouble even before I got there: when I told the leaders of my exchange program where I had been assigned, they could only reply, “It’s really easy to get other places from there!” When I arrived, I understood why they didn’t have anything good to say. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing but happy memories of my year in Herning. I had a wonderful family and friends that made my time there incredible, and I completely fell in love with Denmark. But the most interesting things I saw were all out of town. Besides multiple trips to Copenhagen (four hours away by train), I took excursions around the country to see incredible Danish art, nature, and culture. But Herning? I went to school there.
When I lived in Herning, our options for entertainment were to shop along the stretch of stores in the center of town, or to go to the minuscule mall. There was a small art museum and an 18th century farmhouse called Herningsholm, which is the only place of historical significance. Business tourism came to the Messecenter, the largest exhibition center in Scandinavia. There were two clubs, a handful of restaurants, and a small concert hall that occasionally attracted some touring Danish acts. Everything was essentially deserted by 7pm. Herning was kind of considered the joke of Denmark: a Danish city with absolutely no Danish charm.
What can you expect from a city that has almost no history or culture? Until the 1840s, Herning was nothing more than a few farms and a church on a desolate stretch of heath, when a road connecting two larger towns was built through it. Due to its central location on the Jutland peninsula it became a center for trade, and built a large textile industry that has been maintained ever since. However, just because it’s important for Danish industry doesn’t make it a desirable place to stay.
Compare that to Copenhagen’s rich history: founded in the 10th century, it has had literally a thousand years to develop into the cultural and economic powerhouse that it is today. Think about it. The Little Mermaid, Tivoli, Nyhavn, canal tours, shopping at Royal Copenhagen…I could go on and on. There’s no comparison between the two cities.
I had hoped that things had changed in the past few years, but when I went back to Herning a couple of years ago for the first time since I lived there, my host parents could only point out Boxen, a new soccer arena, and a new mall outside of town. It was essentially the same lackluster city that it had been in the late 90s. Most restaurants in the town are of the pizza or fast food variety, and there are a handful of clubs and bars. Should you find yourself in Herning next summer, be prepared to do a little window shopping and not much else. And unlike Malmö, there is no helpful train station that allows fans to pop off the train right in front of the arena. Boxen is on the far south side of town, and while I can’t claim to know how fans are expected to travel there, it sounds like a nightmare to me.
I haven’t even touched on the hotel situation, which is a joke. I’ve found accounts of anywhere between 8 and 17 hotels in the area, with a whopping 600+ rooms in Herning itself. Nevermind that each hotel has a pretty mediocre rating. DR requires host cities to have 3,000 rooms, so Herning must be banking on support from “nearby” towns. Apparently, we are supposed to utilize Aarhus, the second largest city in the country, for additional housing and entertainment. Aarhus is a great city, but it’s an hour away by car and 90 minutes by train. This is completely unacceptable.
Even though the idea of Herning hosting Eurovision horrifies me, I asked my Danish contacts there what they thought about the town as a Eurovision host city, expecting them to be excited about the opportunity. But they all agreed that it would be logistically impossible for a major event like Eurovision. They are proud of the fact that Herning has made itself more relevant to the rest of Denmark, but none of its developments change the fact that it will not accommodate the needs of Eurovision fans when we’re not at the show itself. If the natives say it, we have much to fear from spending a week there.
At this point, only Copenhagen, Herning, and Horsens (Horsens? Please.) are vying for the distinction of hosting Eurovision 2014. A lot of people on this blog complained about Malmö as a host city before we went there ourselves. Even though the show was really fun, I’m sure most of you experienced some boredom with the city. While there were some nice museums, Malmö wasn’t the greatest place for tourists. But I am here to tell you that Herning makes Malmö look like New York City, and most of that is due to its close proximity to Copenhagen.
Malmö was boring. Seriously, was there ANYTHING to see in that Eurovision village? I wasted a full day trying to find something cool! In our search for fun we ended up taking the train into Copenhagen in between the shows. It’s a world-class city with lots to do and enough hotels and hostels for everyone.
Why don’t we keep the party going in 2014? Whether you love art, food, shopping, sight-seeing, nature, or clubbing, Copenhagen has plenty to keep every single Eurovision fan happy. I’ve already done my time in Herning, but you shouldn’t have to. Let DR know that Copenhagen is the only reasonable host city for Eurovision! I know I’m crossing my fingers to see you all there next summer.
You can voice your concerns by contacting DR’s key Eurovision contacts. They are:
Executive producer: Pernille Gaardbo, [email protected]
Head of Entertainment: Jan Lagermand Lundme, [email protected]
Head of DR Events: Søren Therkelsen, [email protected]
Miss Dagognat is a contributor to wiwibloggs.com. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.
Photos: Visit Herning
Copenhagen is booooring, filled with chaotic traffic, annoying bicycles and stupid tourist attractions (who the f*ck cares about a stupid sculpture of the little mermaid?!?!, Royal copenhagen – come-on, thats for old people!). Transportation in the daytime traffic from Refshaleøen (where ESC14 is to be held) to town center is 35+ minutes (yes it’s only around 8km)…in rushhour it is 50+minutes. There is only one way in/out and it is very limited. Not really any good public tranportation to the place. Hotel prices in Copenhagen are way more expensive than Herning/Århus and the service level is in the range low… Read more »
i still think this should be in Horsen!!!
If it is held in Herning, then the Denmark travel bureau needs to prepare for 2 weeks of non-stop articles complaining about how Denmark is the most boring country in the world with nothing to do. Usually hosting ESC helps a country. This will be a case of hosting hurting a country.
@Aarhus – Let me respond to some of your points. I currently live in Copenhagen, but have also lived in Aarhus, Esbjerg, Odense, and Herning, so I do know a bit about the different areas in DK. Let me start by saying that Herning CLEARLY has the best auditorium facility to host Eurovision. The article was written to point out that, and I would also argue, this doesn’t really matter. Because of the lack of anything else (including hotel rooms. Seriously, where are people going to sleep, on your couch?) it is an unsuitable host city. First, you mention that… Read more »
So I get that the Arena in Herning is amazing. But Eurovision is now a weeklong event for diehard fans and journalists (and two weeks for the contestants and their teams). You cannot expect these thousands of people to suffer and walk through fields and eat bad pizza. NO WAY!
@Otto R. Salassi. you do know that the second biggest shoping mall in jylland, is in herning?. oh, and who the hell buys stuff from a store. in denmark everyone almost order everything online with day to day delivery. shops are dying, so why use them you do know, that there has been build two large muserums (with art that is not found other places in denmark). you do know that the end of the mainstreet, has become a more famous “party place” than most of the citys in jyllland – its rivaled only by jomfru annegade in aalborg. you… Read more »
well as a city, herning is like manchester, hamburg and warszawa in scoppe of Entertainment and events. but the thing that should be debated is not the town, but the venue. denmark won, and we need to find the best place for the event (not town). acoustics, area/parking and roads needs to be the number one consern. not what people do, when they are NOT at the show. when EVSC was last in denmark.. it was PARKEN, that was the place for the show. that was the biggest “what the F” error in this competesion history. bad sound, hard to… Read more »
I would love to go to a Eurovision. I wanted to do it this year – but the Malmo stadium was reasonably small and there was a chance I would not get a ticket, because it was about 3am ( our time ) that the tickets went on sale – and they sold out fast – so my fears were justified. When Denmark won – I thought how brilliant – a holiday in Copenhagen on my way to England – brilliant! But – if it is held on Herning – looks like it wont be 2014 that I get to… Read more »
*Edit* – The shopping street is more like 100 meters long.
I also lived in Herning for several months in the ’90s and can add a bit of my own perspective. I don’t think that many people realize how little there is to do in Herning. There is NOTHING to do in Herning. Nothing. NO-THING. The shopping street is maybe 500 meters long and has nothing of note. Only a few chain electronic stores and some budget chain clothing stores. The city is so new that there is no architecture. Most everything was built post-war and was only built for business/industry purposes. Strictly utilitarian. There is nothing interesting to look at.… Read more »
@Andy: I’m sure you’re right about the shuttle system from Aarhus and that some money will be invested in Herning. It just seems needlessly expensive and complicated to me. The reality is that, although I adore Copenhagen and absolutely believe that it’s the best option, none of the cities proposed have that magic combination of appropriate venue, beautiful and entertaining environment, and hotels for everyone. It’d be great to see a new stadium built somewhere that could make everything come together perfectly.
Everyone complaining, “Oh there will be nothing to do!” and “Oh where will we stay those days?” can be quiet, at least you get to you know, GO…… (I may be a tad bitter….) 😉
Um, I think someone with Horsens and Friends the decision was in early August, pay attention to ‘Horsens’ and Friends.
I’m not going to lie, I kinda want to go to Horsens…. I don’t think that Herning would be that bad; there’s something to be said for being able to find peace amidst all the chaos of ESC week. Not to mention the fact that the Danes will most likely pour money into city in order to build it up. I’m also sure there will be some kind of transportation system installed between Aarhus (who supports Herning’s bid) and the arena, even if it’s just a series of shuttle buses. All of this is probably why it’s taking so long… Read more »
@ Miss Dagognat I would imagine that Herning is a buzzing metropolis in comparison to Millstreet! I was just observing that it held in small places in the past. However, I don’t think that justifies it being held in Herning. I also think it’s interesting that a commentator on the original Danish article, presumably a Herning native, agrees that the contest shouldn’t be held there.
I can understand why producers would want the show to be in Herning: The Arena is massive and that will look good on TV. But it’s a huge pain to have to bus fans and press in EVERY DAY for two weeks. Also, do they even have enough hotel rooms for the contestants and EBU officials and back-up dancers and make-up artists? It will be a logistical nightmare. Having a small Arena doesn’t impact the show. Some Eurovisions have been in small venues. Also, look at Junior Eurovision in Amsterdam in 2012. The Heineken hall was not large — I… Read more »
Heres three reasons why Herning should host the ESC 2014. 1st – One of the Copenhagen venues is only a 8000 seater. 2nd – The other one in Copenhagen and the one in Horsens are freaking tents! This is the Eurovision Song Contest not the Eurovision Circus Contest! Have you seen all the rigging done in the arena? Do you think a tent could support that? 3rd – The ESC is a tv show! People at home will not care if Herning has rich culture or history! They’ll care about the atmosphere created in the arena and wether it looks… Read more »
Those are great points, Padraig! My point with Herning is that it’s a boring place. I can see having the show in a smaller city – in fact, I would LOVE to see it in Roskilde, Aarhus, or Odense as a change up from Copenhagen. But they all have really interesting history and culture. Herning doesn’t, period. I wish that other cities had thrown their hats in, but it breaks my heart to imagine fans leaving Eurovision 2014 with a bad impression of Denmark because it was held in such a lackluster place. I don’t know anything about Millstreet, but… Read more »
Personally, I think Herning’s arena is a much better fit than the arenas in Copenhagen and Horsens, and honestly, I want a little change, when Denmark won in the past, the show was always held in Copenhagen.
Eurovision has been held in small places in the past. When Ireland hosted it in 1993 the contest was held in Millstreet, a town of 1,500 people and almost an hour from the nearest city – Cork. Apparently there was a lot of controversy at the time (I wouldn’t remember since I was only 2) but from tv shows I’ve seen since it would seem that in the end it was considered a success. Admittedly all the shows were Irish, so there would be a certain amount of bias. On the other hand the contest is a completely different beast… Read more »
I wouldn’t mind the hour drive, but I don’t know ’bout the rest of y’all.
Thanks Ludvig! That information is so helpful. I’m sending the article to Ms. Gaardbo right now.
I am still prefer Horsens and his prison.
I was going to say this but you covered it by the end of the article (didn’t read the entire thing though) but for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE e-mail DR if you feel you have a strong opinion on where the contest should be held. I’m afraid that if you mail to the address above it might be a small chance for it to have an impact. Therefore consider mailing the key-people in Eurovision Song Contest 2014. These are: Executive producer: Pernille Gaardbo, [email protected] Head of Entertainment: Jan Lagermand Lundme, [email protected] Head of DR Event: Søren… Read more »