Herning still wants more
TEXT: SIGNE HANSEN | PHOTOS © HERNING CITY
Having just hosted the Ice Hockey World Championships, Herning, a Danish town with a population of just under 50,000, has affirmed its place as one of the country’s top event hubs. However, the town and its event makers are not resting on their laurels; they still want more.
Adele, Paul McCartney, and George Michael are all amongst the major celebrities to have paid Herning and Jyske Bank Boxen, the town’s famous indoor arena, a visit. Ten years ago, it might have seemed unlikely that names of this calibre would have performed anywhere but in a major city in Denmark, but they are actually just a few of a long list who have done so. How has come about? It is all down to hard work and a continuous wish to do more. City director, Allan Birk Kristensen, one of the driving forces in the town’s powerful event machinery, explains. “We have a reputation for making things happen in Herning, and that’s why we’re landing these kinds of major events. It is not for nothing that we’re the town in Europe with the most motorway connections – all roads lead to Herning; it’s quick to get here and it’s quick to get home again. But it is also proof that we have some people here who have taken things up in central government and managed to get things through, who are passionate about their town and about building something special.”
This spring, the hard work resulted in Herning becoming the smallest town ever to have hosted the Ice Hockey World Championships. The championship was co-hosted with the nation’s capital and more than doubled the population of Herning for the two weeks the event took place.
A new town centre
The transformation of Herning is not just reflected in the many major concerts, conferences, and sports events taking place in the town, but also in the blooming of Herning City, the town centre. During major events, the streets fill up with visitors out to make a day of their outing, and, with a just-finished 20 million DKK (around 2.5 GBP) refurbishment and a new pedestrian shopping street, the town centre is ready to lift its weight. “It’s been a major project and it’s something which we can feel a new pride about amongst the residents. I can’t remember there ever having been so many people in the town centre before,” says Kristensen, who as a born and bred Herningeser is himself a proud ambassador for his hometown. “I’m one of the few people who have never really felt the need to live anywhere else other than Herning; I’ve spent most of my life here, and today, I’m extremely proud of my town,” he stresses.
When Herning has been able to land and successfully host major events like the Ice Hockey World Championships, and Giro d’Italia, it is not just thanks to the individual drive of people like Kristensen; it is because of their ability to collaborate and lift together. “Herning City is just one of the many players which sit at the table when there’s a big event. The Ice Hockey World Championships was the largest sports event to be ever held in Denmark – to pull something like that off, you have to pull out all the stops, and we did. We had everyone from the taxi drivers to the municipality and the police force sitting around the table, and the team spirit was just incredible,” says Kristensen, and rounds off: “But, even though a lot of people look at Herning and are impressed by how we’ve managed all this, nobody, neither our local politicians nor people like me, are allowing themselves to rest on their laurels – we continue to want more.”
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