A royal visit, a parade, performers, fantastic costumes and pulsating rhythms set the scene on 12 January when Stavanger launched its year as "European City of Culture". This prestigious title is awarded by the EU and went to Stavanger and Liverpool this year. Bergen is the only other city in Norway to share this honour.
The vision for Stavanger 2008 is "Open Port". This is based on core values such as tolerance, freedom of speech, hospitality, accessibility, cultural heritage, innovation, environment, aesthetics and architecture. The city has a full programme of activities for the year.
The programme for Stavanger 2008 includes the issue of three stamps. The subjects for two of them were chosen by Stavanger Aftenblad's readers: "The Thousandth Heart", from a family musical performed by the Rogaland Theatre, and "Swords in Rock", a national memorial by sculptor Fritz Roed to Harald Fairhair's victory at the decisive Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, which united Norway into one kingdom. Norway Post's choice for the third stamp, "Dancer in a Cultural Landscape", was another of the alternatives in the Aftenbladet poll.