My Copenhagen | Christian Have tunes into analogue Copenhagen

Put down that smartphone for a while and listen to some of the sounds that fill the city with vibrancy and culture

As part of our summer coverage, we've met with six Copenhageners to ask them what they love about our fair city. In our second installment, PR guru Christian Have tells us that Copenhagen is much more vibrant than it used to be.

Going offline once in awhile is the best way to enjoy life – and Copenhagen, according to Christian Have, one of the country’s top communication advisors.


“We need a balance between the digital and physical universe. If everything we experience is mediated, we risk never being present in the moment.”


Have, whose clients have ranged from Arken Museum of Modern Art to Donald Duck comics, explains that digital platforms are worthless if people lack creativity to provide interesting content. And that is why he believes it is so important to preserve Copenhagen events like the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, where people can meet in real time rather than through an LCD.


“The Jazz Festival is a good example of how people are encouraged to gather in squares and parks as well as clubs. Musicians have a chance to hone their craftsmanship. And the city reasserts its position as an international jazz centre.”


Have himself has a background in the music business, having played the drums during the carefree ‘70s in the boyband Mabel.


Although the band had a following in Spain and moved to the US at one point, he traded in his drum set in 1983 to create his own firm, Have Communications. 


Since then, he has played a behind the scenes role promoting cultural events and developing campaigns. Currently he is a board member for the Jazz Festival and the Royal Theatre. 


Born and raised in Copenhagen, Have welcomes the developments that have transformed his hometown from a dusty backwater on the edge of Europe to a bustling trendsetter. 


“It’s tempting to be nostalgic about the good old days, but Copenhagen is a much better city than it was 30 years ago. We’re more diverse, more cosmopolitan and open-minded.”


He cites the city’s vast network of cycleways, swimming facilities in the harbour and green parks as qualities that make Copenhagen “a countryside metropolis”.


“We can’t – and we shouldn’t – compete with a megalopolis like Shanghai or New York City. We have something different and that’s what makes Copenhagen charming.”


His passion for promoting Copenhagen frequently takes him to other European cities to share the Danish capital’s formula for integrating high and low culture and for building partnerships between the public and private sector. 


He notes, however, that Copenhagen has work to do if it wants to become “a holiday destination for all four seasons”. 


“In the summer, Copenhageners are relaxed and friendly, and events such as the Jazz Festival give the place an almost ‘Latin’ feel. The winter sees locals retreat into themselves, and the challenge is to create meeting spaces during the cold months. Tivoli’s outdoor markets are a good start.”


And while Copenhagen has enjoyed a wave of positive press, the former drummer is beating out a new message to business and government leaders who want to cut back on cultural programmes that give the city its character. 


“Culture isn’t ‘nice to have’, it’s ‘need to have’. It’s tempting to think we can cut back on cultural programmes, but our museums, our theatre and our public spaces helps define who we are.”


5 of my favorite things about Copenhagen


When in Copenhagen don’t miss … 


… the Museum of Copenhagen – it’s an overlooked treasure. 


Where do you go for physical activity?


I love water, so when I need to unwind, I take a lap around Søerne (the lakes marking the north-western boundary of the city centre). I grew up in that area..


Where do you go for peace and quiet?


Sometimes I take a break at Copenhagen Cathedral (Vor Frue Kirke). Not for religious reasons, but you could say it’s a spiritual refuge from the hustle and bustle. A good place to clear your mind. 


Where would you park your in-laws for the day? 


The area north of Copenhagen is actually a good draw, if you’re looking for a place off the beaten path. There are lots of classy cafés and the views are spectacular.


Where would you take a visitor to eat?


I just took some German friends to De Små Haver – the small outdoor restaurants at the corner of Frederiksberg Gardens. They loved it. With traditional smørrebrød, red-chequered tablecloths, they have an unbeatable atmosphere. It’s ‘Danishness’ at its best. 


Christian Have, 52, 

Have Communications


Christian Have is the founder of Have Communications, one of the country’s leading PR bureaus, as well as three think-tanks. He is the author of four books about communication and culture including ‘Visibility Equals Existence’. Prior to his career as a communications expert, he played drums on ‘Boom, Boom’, the cult hit which was Denmark’s entry in the 1987 Eurovision song contest. Life for Have is more than just communication: he takes time off work every year to study esoteric philosophy.  

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