Contours of a mega-event: Copenhagen 2021 is in the making

In 2021, something spectacular is taking place in Copenhagen and Malmö. In that year, Copenhagen Pride will be hosting WorldPride, and Pan Idræt will be hosting EuroGames. Although 2021 is still a few years out, the organizers are hard at work putting together Copenhagen 2021, which is the name of this combined and global mega-event.

Contours of a mega-event: Copenhagen 2021 is in the making

“At it’s core, Copenhagen 2021 is about three things: Pride, sports and human rights”, says Lars Christian Østergreen, CEO of Copenhagen 2021. “We are combining the celebration of love and diversity from WorldPride with the celebration of sportsmanship and team spirit from EuroGames. And at the same time, we’re organizing a massive human rights conference to shine a light on LGBTQ rights around the world”.

Diving into bid books outlining the visions for WorldPride and EuroGames, one quickly realizes the extent of Copenhagen 2021, and it’s not easy to wrap your mind around how such a massive event can materialize in Copenhagen and Malmö in just a few years.

“Copenhagen 2021 is a celebration of our LGBTQ community covering eleven full days”, says Lars Christian Østergreen. “Copenhagen 2021 will include 8 days of WorldPride festivities, 4 days of human rights debates and talks, and 3 days of EuroGames with sporting events”.

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EuroGames and WorldPride will be a combined LGBTQ+ event in Copenhagen in 2021. Photo: Kelly Hansen.

EuroGames and WorldPride will be a combined LGBTQ+ event in Copenhagen in 2021. Photo: Kelly Hansen.

He also mentions that Copenhagen 2021 is kicked of with an extra-ordinary opening ceremony by the harbor front at a so far undisclosed venue, and that the final closing ceremony of the event will take place at the City Hall Square.

Furthermore, several rainbow-colored villages will pop up throughout the city during Copenhagen 2021. One will focus on human rights and aim to lift some of the discussions from the human rights conference out of the conference venue and into the city, one will have a specific focus on the EuroGames and rainbow sports and serve as a meeting point for the thousands of participating athletes, and yet another square will serve as a designated women’s space to make sure that women do not feel neglected and overlooked in an LGBTQ space often dominated by men.

“We are mainly focused on getting ahead of the logistics and booking venues at this point”, says Lars Christian Østergreen. “But once that has been taken care of, we will get into the details of the program and involve the LGBTQ community in figuring out the more specific contents of Copenhagen 2021”.

He states that ideas in the air currently span everything from open air concerts on the WorldPride Square, LGBTQ focused film screenings, queer art exhibitions in galleries and museums, a specific youth pride event dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ kids and youth, and a festival for LGBTQ choirs from all over the world to LGBTQ historical city tours, speed-dating for polyamorous, morning yoga by the harbor front, sightseeing on roller skates, drag queens reading out loud to children at public libraries, and rainbow family play dates on playgrounds.

“Of course, we can’t make all this come true by ourselves. So we’re looking at partnering with various stakeholders, organizations from the community and cultural institutions in both Copenhagen and Malmö”, says Lars Christian Østergreen. “We would also love to hear more input from the community, so we will be hosting open brainstorming sessions in which we invite everyone to bring their ideas to the table”.

“At the heart of Copenhagen 2021 is an ambition of inclusivity across all parameters”, explains Lars Christian Østergreen. “Making sure that everyone feels included and welcome at all times is as much a hashtag used by the organizers as it is a daily commitment, one must understand: Our community is made up of all the letters of the acronym, so in 2021 we’re aiming to raise the bar for inclusivity. Inclusivity is something we preach, and it is something we try to practice at every step of this process that we’re in.”

He mentions that it was a long and challenging process for him and his secretariat to find a suitable office space, because many buildings in the inner city of Copenhagen are not easily accessible for people in wheelchairs.

“With a commitment to inclusivity, I can’t have my staff working from an office that can’t be accessed by wheelchair users, he explains. But the commitment to inclusivity will also come through in the sporting tournament, where inclusion of trans, non-binary and intersex people will be a specific focus”.

Copenhagen 2021 is still three years out, but the organizers definitely seem to have a lot on their plates. If you want to follow their process in the years ahead, you can stay updated via copenhagen2021.com or social media.

“We’re running a marathon stretch in sprint pace”, says Lars Christian Østergreen. “So there’s going to be many exciting news to report on as we inch closer to 2021”.

Photo: Andreas Paulsson

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