King kicks off Sweden’s Linnaeus festivities

A year of celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus was kicked off on Sunday by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

The royal couple inaugurated the celebrations in a ceremony on Sunday evening in Växjö, southern Sweden, the town where Linnaeus had attended school.

Events are planned across the country to mark the anniversary year. Exhibitions, lectures, excursions and concerts will be held during the course of the year, culminating in a final ceremony in Jukkasjärvi, Lappland, on 15th December.

One of the high points is expected to be Linnaeus’ birthday on 23rd May. The focus of celebrations on that day will be Uppsala, where the botanist lived and worked. Japanese Emperor Akihito, a follower of Linnaeus, will be in Uppsala to join the celebrations.

The opening ceremony on Sunday was addressed by Professor Sir David King, chief scientific advisor to the British government. The evening featured performances by children’s choirs, local theatre groups and rock singer Ola Salo, performing his symphony Linnaeus Rex.

The anniversary year will also be marked by events in other countries including the Netherlands, Britain and Japan.