Thousands of people had gathered on and around the frozen river Umeälven for the inaugural ceremony.
"Let us burn together for art and for culture. Welcome to this opening and to Burning Snow," Marie-Louise Rönnmark mayor of Umeå said at the inaugural speech.
The European capital of culture initiative was started in 1985 to promote European culture. Umeå shares the capital title this year with Riga in Latvia.