Umeå, the largest city in northern Sweden, also known as the gateway to Swedish Lapland, is the European Capital of Culture 2014.

In Umeå, located 600 kms north of Stockholm and 400 kms south of the Arctic Circle, progressive and dynamic cultural life is seen as a key to continued growth. It is a city with a rich cultural life that invites creative new ways of thinking and creating. In the Umeå area, the Sámi, Europe’s only indigenous people, live near their roots and traditions.

“Co-creation” is the key word in Umeå2014’s capital of culture initiative. Here, the concept means that everyone can participate and contribute to the programme. That is why Umeå reached out to invite all of Europe to participate in forming Umeå2014 in a way that no other capital of culture has ever done before. That is why the Artists Caught by Umeå competition was created. That is why Umeå took its trailblazing city on the Caught by Umeå tour to seven European cities.


Artists Caught by Umeå

Artists Caught by [Umeå] was one of the biggest European non-commercial photo, film and design competitions in 2013 and a key activity of Umeå2014. Creative people all over the world was invited to reflect on and interpret Umeå and northern Sweden.

The contest kicked off in April, and the submissions came pouring in until June. After that, 64 semi-finalists were selected by a competent jury of renowned experts. Our jury members came from all over Europe and are prominent leaderis in the fields of photography, film or design.

The semi-finalists were selected by the jury then moved on to the People’s Vote that took place during the summer months July and August. The public made their voices heard and selected 24 finalists. The finalists were announced on the Caught by Umeå tour where Umeå and northern Sweden visited 7 European cities. Click here to see and be inspired by all of our finalist submissions.

Our winners

More than 500 entries. 64 semi-finalists. 24 finalists. And then, on December 9 2013, our three Grand Finale winners were selected! We are more than proud to present the progressive creations that won the Artists Caught by Umeå competition below. Our warmest congratulations and thanks for participating in this competition!

Dark Snowfall by Andrea Comalini Copenhagen photo_Andrea Comalini_131

Lost in the evening light

Jury motivation
An appealing, intriguing and captivating image – graphically dramatic and at the same time very well composed. It almost has something unreal about it like a dream or some place that doesn’t exist.

The tree almost comes to life like it was a person.



Warsaw deisgn_Hanna Ferenc_ID 596Your Umeå pack by artist collective LITTLE IS KNOWN
Design – click here to see a video of the project

YOUR UMEÅ PACK is a project of a package. Potential user is a person who wants to travel in a more alternative way. The package contains a guide book facts about the city. See a video about the UMEÅ PACK, just klick on the link under the picture.

Jury motivation
A progressive and emotional design idea that connects Umeå with the rest of the world in an easy and understandable way.


Cloud dancers by Liset van DommelenAmsterdam photo_Liset van Dommelen_ID 93

(near the ice hotel in summer after a canoe trip) The North of Sweden represents for me space, freedom, joy, and feeling like dancing on the clouds. A place full of inspiration. Caught in this image.

Jury motivation
Impressive timing and good composition with nice colours and reflections. An image defining the relationship between man and nature and the solitude associated with northern Sweden. It feels like holiday. Freedom. The sky is everywhere!


The Caught by [Umeå] tour travelled through Europe and aimed to pique people’s curiosity and interest in Umeå’s capital of culture year 2014. It started 5 September in Copenhagen and finished 26 October in Hamburg. Umeå2014 went on this European tour, showing what the city of Umeå and its surrounding region in northern Sweden have to offer. The tour visited 7 cities in Europe; Copenhagen, Warsaw, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Barcelona and Hamburg. The final stop is Umeå and the Opening Weekend. 31 January to 2 February Umeå and people all over Europe will inaugurate the Capital of Culture year 2014 together

The Caught by Umeå tour, the first stop in Copenhagen, 5 September 2013.

Umeå and northern Sweden literally came to life in each city, setting up a hub and a Nordic teepee in a central location featuring inspiration and information about the life and culture up north in Sweden. Visitors were immersed in cultural expressions – exhibitions, fashion shows, musical performances, culinary experiences, film screenings and so on. They got to experience everything from the Northern Light to ice sculpting to Sámi culture.

Tjåsa Gusfors ice sculpting at Museumplein in Amsterdam.Sami handicraft

One of the most important parts of the tour was the Artists Caught by Umeå competition. The semi-finalist submissions that had moved on from the People’s Vote were on display in an art exhibition and the finalists were presented during a VIP dinner in each city.

CandySwedish food 076

You can see pictures from all of our tour stops here or videos on our Youtube channel - experience the tour and become Caught by Umeå as well!

Partners on tour

With us on tour was Sámi Duodji, Umeå University, Designlabland, ICEHOTEL, Hammock Sessions, Guitars – The Museum and Måltidsvision. Read more about all of our incredible partners on tour here.

About the competition

Competition timeline

April - June

Submission period.

July - August

Semifinalists presented and public voting starts.

September - October

Finalists are presented in eight European countries.

January 2014

Grand Finale in Umeå,
Sweden. Winners are