“The goal is to bring the magic and emotions we experience out on the sea, up on land. It’s no easy task, but that’s our goal,” said Camilia Ilmoni, CEO of Andøy Travel, who had the idea for The Whale when the contract was signed. In 2022, the new attraction in Norway, ‘The Whale’ will enable tourists to watch migrating whales up close – from land.
Whale watching in Norway is already a huge tourist attraction, and Andenes in Lofoten welcomes over 50,000 visitors annually. The cold, squid-filled waters up north attract sperm whales in huge numbers.
Whales have always fascinated people. Stone carvings from thousands of years ago depict whales, and sea monsters portrayed in maps from the Middle Ages are most likely based on mythical tales of whales.
Related: Norway – the Kingdom of Whales
The “Whale” project started with a series of small steps on an afternoon in January 2015. A group of enthusiasts met at the Whale Center in Andøy to discuss the possibilities of establishing a world-class whaling attraction. Whale safaris have been a popular activity in Andenes for more than 30 years. The first whale safari was being tested there on the 27 August 1987.
The Whale kick-off
The business community and inhabitants of Andøy was in March 2016 invited to a workshop to discuss the idea of establishing a new attraction in the municipality. “Throughout three decades we’ve learned that the big sperm whales who reside northwest of Andenes, is a stable phenomenon. We have let several hundred thousand guests from all over the world get close to the world’s largest toothed whale, and thus created enthusiasm about the whale and the beautiful nature in which it lives,” said Jonni H. Solsvik, Mayor of Andøy Municipal Government.
Related: Look Out for Whales in Norway
Andenes Whale Symposium
The Whale will be an attraction located at the intersection of sea and land. In March last year, “The Whale” was in an important phase where the project would be rooted in national and international research environments. So, leading whale scientists from Norway, England, Madeira, the Azores, and Canada were invited to a workshop to gain input on how “The Whale” could become an attractive arena for research and dissemination related to sea, marine mammals, climate, environment and sustainability.
Whale ‘n’ Wine
The final phase of the pre-project of the most unique whale attraction in the world is going on high speed right now. Earlier this year the project leaders invited people to a new part of the unforgettable journey. The program included status on the area’s most important tourism project ever, knowledge of whales and refreshing cultural elements, including a “Taste from the sea” dinner.
Related: Exciting Northern Norway
Four internationally renowned architectural companies have competed to build The Whale. On 1 November, Danish architecture firm Dorte Mandrup was announced the winner of the competition. Børre Berglund, CEO of the project and head of the jury for the competition, called it “poetic and low-key” and “exciting and unusual.”
The Danish architect team was selected in an extremely strong competition with international top names such as Snøhetta, BIG – Bjarke Ingels and Reiulf Ramstad.
“Andøy is located far north and is a unique place and The Whale is an extraordinary project. Not only will we create architecture in yet another remarkable landscape, but we will also take part in efforts to increase the understanding of whales and preserve marine life,” said founder and creative director, Dorte Mandrup of Dorte Mandrup architects.
New Attraction in Norway – The Whale
When The Whale opens in 2022, it will be an exhibition where everybody can learn about the whale in a completely new way. This establishment will cement Andøy in a position as the premier whale destination in Norway and Northern Europe, but more importantly, it will allow everybody to learn even more about whales.
“The Whale will strengthen Northern Norway as a travel destination, and create a positive ripple effect outwards to other businesses in the north. The attraction will offer quality and legitimacy to whale safaris, but first and foremost it will function as a separate adventure product. In addition, “The Whale” is also meant to combine research, knowledge and attraction, which will prove to be valuable for educational purposes for primary schools, kindergartens and other institutions. “The Whale” will be a whale exhibition the likes of which the world has never seen before. Just you wait,» says Jonni H. Solsvik.
Even though The Whale won’t open before 2022, it’s not too soon to start planning your trip there. If you’re interested in whales and marine life in general, Andøy is the perfect destination with whale watching and sea safaris all year round.
New Attraction in Norway – The Whale, written by Tor Kjolberg