10 things Denmark talked about in the 2010s

We can look back on a decade that has featured, among other things, ants as food, a bearded singer in a dress and words such as selfie stick and streaming service.

It was the decade when we took pictures of ourselves and what we ate. When we made kombucha on the windowsill and went to food markets made from containers. When we smoked e-cigarettes, ran around on e-scooters and played e-sports. When coffee was given even more names, people became like tattooed sailors and first movers colored their hair gray.

A decade with so many opportunities and so many opinions and when there wasn’t much ‘business as usual’ either globally or locally. Here are 10 things we talked about in the 2010s.

Here are 10 things Denmark talked about in the 2010s:

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This groundbreaking Michelin-starred restaurant, which among other things offered up pine needles and some highly publicized ants on the menu, was named the world’s best restaurant in 2010. The same thing happened again in 2011, 2012 and 2014, so the international restaurant world was shocked when René Redzepi announced that Noma would be closing at the end of 2016. Redzepi did open a new noma 2.0 in the spring of 2018, though, with a new concept and new surroundings. Noma is still just as hot.


Refshalevej 96, 1432 København K, Danmark

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Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmarks first female prime minister. Photo: Slavo Sereda/Shutterstock

Female prime ministers

Social Democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt went down in Danish history when she was elected as the country’s first female prime minister in 2011. She had to give way to the Liberal Party’s Lars Løkke Rasmussen following the 2015 elections, but the decade did see another female prime minister at the helm, namely Social Democrat Mette Frederiksen, who has held the post since June 2019. Norway also had two female prime ministers – Gro Harlem Brundtland and Erna Solberg (who is the current PM). Sweden still has this experience to look forward to.

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The right to gay marriage

Back in 1989, Denmark was the first country in the world to introduce registered partnerships between two people of the same sex. It wasn’t until 2012, however, that gay couples were allowed to marry. One prominent figure to take advantage of the new law was the popular US ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford, who to great acclaim married his husband in Copenhagen. The country’s Scandinavian neighbors were a little quicker off the mark: gay marriage was allowed in Norway in 2008 and in Sweden in 2009.

Conchita Wurst. Photo: Shutterstock

Conchita Wurst

In 2013, the unbelievable happened: Denmark won the Eurovision Song Contest! It was only the third time ever and the euphoric victory meant that Denmark would be hosting Eurovision in 2014. It would turn out to be a party we’ll never forget, not least because of the winner, Conchita Wurst, the fabulous drag artiste from Austria who blew Europe’s Eurovision fans away with her bearded, dual-gender persona and the song ‘Rise Like a Phoenix.’

The Killing won a prize for best international tv series in 2011. Photo: Tine Harden/DR

Nordic Noir

Are you one of those people who has binge-read Kim Wahlöö, Maj Sjöwall and Jussi Adler Olsen? The 2010s was the decade when Scandinavian crime fiction caught the attention of an international audience, both as a literary genre and in the form of TV shows. The Nordic Noir genre provides a glimpse of the shady side of those seemingly such functional Scandinavian societies and has been a huge success – particularly in Britain, where shows such as The Bridge and The Killing laid waste to the streets and prompted a sudden demand for Faroese sweaters.

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It wasn’t just stories of death and destruction that made Scandinavia popular in the 2010s. Hygge was also on everyone’s lips, especially the British, who were desperate to find out how this indefinable concept could make a difference to their lives. Hundreds of articles were written about ‘hoo-gah’ and the concept managed to sell piles of books, carpets, leather, candles, woolen socks and food. Hygge also became an official English word in 2017, earning a place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Fashion icon Pernille Teisbæk. Photo: Pernille Teisbæk.

Scandi chic as a fashion concept

Yes, Scandinavia had momentum in the 2010s, with Scandinavian style and design also attracting international attention. The term scandi chic appeared in the international fashion vocabulary to describe a minimalist, simple and cool style and applied to both interior design and clothing. Danish fashion blogger Pernille Teisbæk and Swede Elin Kling are two of the most recognized style icons within scandi chic.

Aarhus shines bright

Aarhus became cooler than ever in the 2010s, peaking in 2017 when the city was both European Capital of Culture and European Region of Gastronomy. It was only the year before that Lonely Planet had placed Aarhus at number two on its Top 10 list of European destinations and with an excellent food scene, vibrant city life, nature close at hand and Denmark’s nicest local population, there’s still plenty to discover in Aarhus.

Ofelia Square in front of Playhouse in Köpenhamn. Photo: Rasmus Flindt Pedersen

Copenhagen – even brighter

There’s only one Danish city to have trumped Aarhus in terms of positive press. It has to be Copenhagen, of course, which over the past decade has managed to top various lists – from the happiest population and best cycling city to the ‘most livable city’ and the best city to visit. Its food scene, sustainable solutions and playful architecture, together with cycle bridges, harbor baths and new Metro line are just some of the things that contributed to the city’s success in the 2010s. We look forward to the next decade with anticipation.

Photo: Urban Rigger,

Cool container buildings

Upcycling, where discarded items are given a new life as something else, was one of the decade’s major trends within urban development. If ever there was something that signaled progressive sustainability, it was the container buildings that spread across the urban landscape in the form of creative business centers, food stalls and student accommodation. Have you been envying those living in Bjarke Ingels’ floating container collective, Urban Rigger? You’re not the only one.

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