Northern Swedish city Umea kicked off its year as a European Capital of Culture on Saturday with a number of events, when a frozen river in the city's center was set artistically ablaze. Under the name "Burning Snow," the official inauguration ceremony started at 5 p.m. local time in Umea, which, about 600 km north of Stockholm, is a place of unique natural beauty, rugged wilderness, and culture. "Being appointed a European Capital of Culture boosts both culture and creativity -- and I know Umea will be a true showcase for the Creative Europe project in 2014," said Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth, Swedish Minister for Culture. This weekend's celebrations offer a tasty preview of an entire year filled with diverse cultural activities. Within the year as a European Capital of Culture, a variety of festivals, exhibitions, concerts, poetry, literature and sports are to be enjoyed by visitors from around the world. The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one year during which it is given a chance to showcase its cultural life and cultural development. A number of European cities have used the City of Culture year to transform completely their cultural base and, in doing so, the way in which they are viewed internationally. The Swedish city of Umea and the Latvian capital city of Riga share the opportunity this year.