The brooding presences of figures by sculptor Antony Gormley are another thing the culture-capitals have in common - Stavanger's overlook the harbour. Stavanger's theme for the year is "Open Port" and the emphasis for the 1,000 events is on participation and an all-inclusive idea of creativity. Last week's show combining dance, skiing and acrobatics where the audience arrived by ski-lift was typical.
There's a continuing Norwegian Wood architecture project (sponsored by IKEA, naturally) and art projects in the countryside include open-air theatre with Fairy Tales in Landscape in August. There are symphony concerts galore and the renowned Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa is one of the year's artists in residency. DFDS (0871 882 0886, www.dfds.co.uk) sails overnight from Newcastle upon Tyne twice-weekly from pound;98 per person for a three-night break, including two nights onboard and one night's BB in a Stavanger hotel. Low-cost airline Norwegian (00 47 21 49 00 15, www.norwegian.no) flies from Gatwick direct to Stavanger from pound;37 one way. Skagen Brygge Hotel (00 47 51 85 00 00, www.skagenbryggehotell.no) on the harbour has BB doubles from about pound;103.
Renata Rubnikowicz; www.regionstavanger.com; www.stavanger2008.no
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Next week: Rome.