The history of DGI Byen

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DGI Byen is the product of the sports association DGI and the City of Copenhagen, starting as an activity centre in the Vesterbro District and immediately becoming DGI’s flagship facility in the Danish capital.

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Today, DGI Byen still revolves the idea of people in motion, but has expanded its facilities and services to include Meetings & Conferences, Parties, Culture & Experiences, Water & Sports and Hotel & Tourism.

The beginning
In December 1997, Prince-Consort Henrik of Denmark inaugurated DGI Byen’s sports halls, which were expanded in 1999 to include the Swim Centre (Vandkulturhuset) with its iconic round swimming pool in the centre of the swimming facility. DGI Byen’s sports facilities celebrate DGI’s focus on casual sports in unorthodox styles that are not intended for elite athletes but rather all of Copenhagen’s exercise enthusiasts who train in private or with club members in our halls and swimming pools.

Hotel and conference venues
1999 was also the year our hotel - now CPH Hotel - opened, and in the decade that followed, DGI Byen acquired Hotel Centrum, DANHOSTEL Copenhagen City and Hotel Astoria. We launched a modest meeting room/conference venue business at these hotels to start with, eventually expanding into the Meatpacking District (Kødbyen) and inaugurating CPH Conference in 2009.

A part of the Meatpacking District
In 2005, DGI Byen acquired Øksnehallen from the City of Copenhagen on a 10-year leasehold, which we successfully renewed for an additional 10 years in 2015. Together with CPH Conference, Øksnehallen makes up the facilities of our meetings & conferences branch and also houses our large photography exhibitions and cultural events.

DGI Byen underwent restructuring in 2011, which entailed a divestment of its three external hotels. Today, our business has rebounded. 2019 concluded with our best financial result thus far for the third year in a row.

History of Øksnehallen

Øksnehallen is an elegant and historical building located right in the centre of the lively old Meatpacking District of Copenhagen. The city architect Ludvig Fenger had been charged with the design and construction of the Brown Meatpacking District, in which Øksnehallen opened as the central cattle market in 1901. The hall had enough room for 1,600 animals, and the name also refers to the old Danish term for oxen (øksne). Just 20 years later, however, the hall and square in front of it (Kvægtorvet) had become outdated, and in 1934 its activities were relocated to the newly constructed White Meatpacking District. Øksnehallen was still used for stabling animals until the 1960s, however. In 1984, the Brown Meatpacking District became a conservation area, and a thorough renovation of Øksnehallen commenced in 1993, transforming it into a venue for cultural events and exhibitions over the course of 1996 where Copenhagen was the European City of Culture. Øksnehallen has been part of DGI Byen since 2005. Today, the hall hosts a great variety of events such as congresses, dinners and trade fairs, but it is also known for its tremendous photo exhibitions.