If you pay attention to the cultural scene, it probably has not escaped your notice that the Ruhr, a region in central Germany not far from the Dutch border, has been named the European Capital of Culture 2010. According to the Official Tourism website of Germany, this is the first time that the title has been held by an entire region, as opposed to a single city. This former industrial zone has undergone a remarkable transition, and a landscape once pockmarked by mining and steel industries is now a thriving cultural center. The area boasts of some 1,000 industrial monuments, 200 museums, 100 arts centers, 120 theatres, 100 concert venues, and 250 festivals and fairs.
While there’s probably no bad time for a trip to see what the area has to offer, on Sunday, July 18, 2010, something quite unique will be taking place in the Ruhr. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the usually hectic A40/B1 stretch of motorway between Duisburg and Dortmund will be shut down to motorized traffic. One side of the road will be taken over by cyclists and any others moving on wheels under their own steam, while the other side of the street will host a huge fest. The organizers plan to stretch out an unimaginable 60-kilometer-long string of 20,000 picnic tables in order to create what will have to go down as one of the biggest picnics of all time. Each table is supposed to serve a secondary function, as a stage, where participants can put on a performance of their own choosing, the point being to allow the residents of the area to feel like an active part of the European Capital of Culture.