European Capital of Culture

Last updated

The logo used by European Commission for European Capital of Culture European Capital of Culture.svg
The logo used by European Commission for European Capital of Culture

A European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union (EU) for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong pan-European dimension. Being a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for a city to generate considerable cultural, social, and economic benefits, and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city's image, and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale. Multiple cities can be a European Capital of Culture simultaneously.


In 1985, Melina Mercouri, Greece's Minister of Culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual City of Culture to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values.

The Commission of the European Union manages the title, and each year the Council of Ministers of the European Union formally designates European Capitals of Culture: more than 40 cities have been designated so far. The current European Capitals of Culture for 2024 are Tartu in Estonia, Bad Ischl in Austria and Bodø in Norway.

Selection process

Melina Mercouri Melina Mercouri (1985).jpg
Melina Mercouri

An international panel of cultural experts is in charge of assessing the proposals of cities for the title according to criteria specified by the European Union.

For two of the capitals each year, eligibility is open to cities in EU member states only. From 2021 and every three years thereafter, a third capital will be chosen from cities in countries that are candidates or potential candidates for membership, or in countries that are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) [1] [2] – an example of the latter being Stavanger, Norway, which was a European Capital of Culture in 2008.

A 2004 study conducted for the Commission, known as the "Palmer report", demonstrated that the choice of European Capital of Culture served as a catalyst for cultural development and the transformation of the city. [3] Consequently, the beneficial socio-economic development and impact for the chosen city are now also considered in determining the chosen cities.

Bids from five United Kingdom cities to be the 2023 Capital of Culture were disqualified in November 2017, because the UK was planning to leave the EU before 2023. [4]


The European Capital of Culture programme was initially called the European City of Culture and was conceived in 1983, by Melina Mercouri, then serving as minister of culture in Greece. Mercouri believed that at the time, culture was not given the same attention as politics and economics and a project for promoting European cultures within the member states should be pursued. The European City of Culture programme was launched in the summer of 1985 with Athens being the first title-holder. [5] In 1999, the European City of Culture program was renamed to European Capital of Culture. [6]

List of European Capitals of Culture

Tartu (Estonia), the European Capital of Culture for 2024 Tartu Raekoda 2012.jpg
Tartu (Estonia), the European Capital of Culture for 2024
Bad Ischl (Austria), the European Capital of Culture for 2024 Bad Ischl and Traun River.jpg
Bad Ischl (Austria), the European Capital of Culture for 2024
Bodo (Norway), the European Capital of Culture for 2024 Bodo havn 3.JPG
Bodø (Norway), the European Capital of Culture for 2024
European Capitals of Culture
1985 Athens Flag of Greece.svg  Greece
1986 Florence Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
1987 Amsterdam Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
1988 West Berlin Flag of Germany.svg  West Germany Berlin since German reunification in 1990
1989 Paris Flag of France.svg  France
1990 Glasgow Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom Glasgow Garden Festival
1991 Dublin Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland
1992 Madrid Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
1993 Antwerp Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
1994 Lisbon Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
1995 Luxembourg City Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg
1996 Copenhagen Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark
1997 Thessaloniki Flag of Greece.svg  Greece
1998 Stockholm Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
1999 Weimar Flag of Germany.svg  Germany
2000 Avignon Flag of France.svg  France The year 2000 was called the millennium year and treated in a special way, in order to emphasize the enduring heritage and contribution of European cities to world culture and civilization. Because of that, nine locations were chosen, including two cities of states that were to join the EU on 1 May 2004. [7]
Bergen Flag of Norway.svg  Norway
Bologna Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Brussels Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Helsinki Flag of Finland.svg  Finland
Kraków Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Prague Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic
Reykjavík Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland
Santiago de Compostela Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
2001 Rotterdam Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
Porto Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
2002 Bruges Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Salamanca Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
2003 Graz Flag of Austria.svg  Austria
2004 Genoa Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Lille Flag of France.svg  France
2005 Cork Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland Cork Caucus
2006 Patras Flag of Greece.svg  Greece
2007 Sibiu Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
Luxembourg City Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg
2008 Liverpool Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Stavanger Flag of Norway.svg  Norway
2009 Vilnius Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania
Linz Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Linz 2009
2010 Essen Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Representing the whole Ruhr as Ruhr.2010.
Istanbul Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey
Pécs Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary
2011 Turku Flag of Finland.svg  Finland
Tallinn Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia
2012 Guimarães Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Maribor Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia
2013 Marseille Flag of France.svg  France Marseille-Provence 2013
Košice Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia
2014 Riga Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia
Umeå Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
2015 Mons Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Plzeň Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic
2016 San Sebastián Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Wrocław Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
2017 Aarhus Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark Aarhus 2017
Paphos Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus Pafos 2017
2018 Leeuwarden Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
Valletta Flag of Malta.svg  Malta Valletta 2018
2019 Matera Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Plovdiv Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria Plovdiv 2019
2020 – April 2021 Rijeka Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia Rijeka 2020
Galway Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland
2022 Kaunas Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania Kaunas 2022
Esch-sur-Alzette Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg Esch-sur-Alzette 2022
Novi Sad Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia Novi Sad 2022 (Coronavirus postponement)
20231 Veszprém Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary Veszprém 2023
Timișoara Flag of Romania.svg  Romania Timișoara 2023 (Coronavirus postponement)
Eleusis Flag of Greece.svg  Greece Eleusis 2023 (Coronavirus postponement)
20241 Tartu Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia Tartu 2024
2 Bad Ischl Flag of Austria.svg  Austria Salzkammergut 2024
32 Bodø Flag of Norway.svg  Norway Bodø 2024
2025 Nova Gorica/Gorizia joint bidFlag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
GO! 2025
Chemnitz Flag of Germany.svg  Germany Chemnitz 2025
2026 Trenčín [8] Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia Trenčín 2026
Oulu Flag of Finland.svg  Finland Oulu 2026
2027 Liepāja Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia Liepāja 2027
Évora Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal Évora 2027
20281 České Budějovice [9] Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic České Budějovice 2028
2 Bourges [10] Flag of France.svg  France Bourges 2028
32 Skopje Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia Skopje 2028
2029TBA September 2024 [11] Flag of Poland.svg  Poland shortlisted: [12] Bielsko-Biała, Katowice, Kołobrzeg, Lublin
TBA December 2024 [13] Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden shortlisted: [13] Kiruna, Uppsala
20301TBAFlag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus deadline 13 December 2024 [14]
2TBAFlag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium deadline 2 August 2024 [15] /
potential candidate cities: Brussels [16] Leuven, [17] Liège, Kortrijk, Ghent
32 TBA TBA deadline 16 August 2024 [18]
2031TBAFlag of Malta.svg  Malta potential candidate cities: Tarxien, Cottonera, San Giljan, Sliema, & Gozo
TBAFlag of Spain.svg  Spain potential candidate cities: Burgos, Cáceres, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera
2032TBAFlag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria potential candidate cities: Veliko Tarnovo
TBAFlag of Denmark.svg  Denmark potential candidate cities: Næstved [19]
20331TBAFlag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands potential candidate city: Heerlen [20]
2TBAFlag of Italy.svg  Italy potential candidate city: Turin [21]

1 The European Capital of Culture was due to be in the UK in 2023. However, due to its decision to leave the European Union, UK cities would no longer be eligible to hold the title after 2019. The European Commission's Scotland office confirmed that this would be the case on 23 November 2017, only one week before the UK was due to announce which city would be put forward. [22] The candidate cities were Dundee, [23] Leeds, Milton Keynes, [24] Nottingham and a joint bid from Northern Irish cities of Belfast and Derry and the town of Strabane. [25]

2 A new framework makes it possible for cities in candidate countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine), potential candidates for EU membership (Kosovo) or EFTA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) to hold the title every third year as of 2021. This will be selected through an open competition, meaning that cities from various countries may compete with each other. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">European Union</span> Supranational political and economic union of 27 states

The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The Union has a total area of 4,233,255 km2 (1,634,469 sq mi) and an estimated total population of over 448 million. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity combining the characteristics of both a federation and a confederation.

The 2030s will be the next decade in the Gregorian calendar that will begin on January 1, 2030, and end on December 31, 2039.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Luxembourg City</span> Capital and largest city of Luxembourg

Luxembourg, also known as Luxembourg City, is the capital city of Luxembourg and the country's most populous commune. Standing at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers in southern Luxembourg, the city lies at the heart of Western Europe, situated 213 km (132 mi) by road from Brussels, 372 km (231 mi) from Paris, and 209 km (130 mi) from Cologne. The city contains Luxembourg Castle, established by the Franks in the Early Middle Ages, around which a settlement developed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Melina Mercouri</span> Greek actress, singer, activist, and politician (1920–1994)

Maria Amalia "Melina" Mercouri was a Greek actress, singer, activist, and politician. She came from a political family that was prominent over multiple generations. She received an Academy Award nomination and won a Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award for her performance in the film Never on Sunday (1960). Mercouri was also nominated for one Tony Award, three Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards in her acting career. In 1987 she was awarded a special prize in the first edition of the Europe Theatre Prize.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Accession of Turkey to the European Union</span> Process of Turkey joining the EU

Turkey is negotiating its accession to the European Union (EU) as a member state, following its application to become a full member of the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the EU, on 14 April 1987.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cultural policies of the European Union</span>

European Union culture policies aim to address and promote the cultural dimension of European integration through relevant legislation and government funding. These policies support the development of cultural activity, education or research conducted by private companies, NGO's and individual initiatives based in the EU working in the fields of cinema and audiovisual, publishing, music and crafts.

The Arab Capital of Culture is an initiative taken by the Arab League under the UNESCO Cultural Capitals Program to promote and celebrate Arab culture and encourage cooperation in the Arab region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Accession of Albania to the European Union</span> Ongoing accession process of Albania to the EU

Albania is on the current agenda for future enlargement of the European Union (EU). It applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009, and has since June 2014 been an official candidate for accession. The Council of the European Union decided in March 2020 to open accession negotiations with Albania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Accession of Montenegro to the European Union</span> Ongoing accession process of Montenegro to the EU

Accession of Montenegro to the European Union is on the agenda for future enlargement of the EU.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Accession of Serbia to the European Union</span> Ongoing accession process of Serbia to the EU

Serbia applied to join the European Union (EU) in 2009 and has been a candidate for membership since 2012, along with nine other states. Serbia is the largest country in Southeast Europe seeking entry into the EU.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Armenia–European Union relations</span> Bilateral relations

Armenia and the European Union have maintained positive relations over the years. Both parties are connected through the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which was signed in 2017. Former Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan expressed confidence that the new partnership agreement would "open a new page" in EU–Armenia relations. Meanwhile, the former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini concluded in June 2019, that Armenia–EU relations are on an "excellent" level.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Potential enlargement of the European Union</span> Potential candidates for admission into the European Union

There are nine recognised candidates for membership of the European Union: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Kosovo formally submitted its application for membership in 2022 and is considered a potential candidate by the European Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">European Green Capital Award</span> Award for a European city based on its environmental record

The European Green Capital Award (EGCA) is an award given by the European Commission each year to a European city based on its environmental record. The award was launched on 22 May 2008, with the first award being given to Stockholm for the year 2010. The European Commission has long recognised the important role that local authorities play in improving the environment, and their high level of commitment to genuine progress. The European Green Capital Award has been conceived as an initiative to promote and reward these efforts.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climate change in Europe</span> Emissions, impacts and responses of Europe related to climate change

Climate change has resulted in an increase in temperature of 2.3 °C (2022) in Europe compared to pre-industrial levels. Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world. Europe's climate is getting warmer due to anthropogenic activity. According to international climate experts, global temperature rise should not exceed 2 °C to prevent the most dangerous consequences of climate change; without reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, this could happen before 2050. Climate change has implications for all regions of Europe, with the extent and nature of impacts varying across the continent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Accession of Ukraine to the European Union</span> Ongoing process of Ukraine joining the EU

On 28 February 2022, four days after it was invaded by Russia, Ukraine applied for membership of the European Union (EU). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested immediate admission under a "new special procedure", and the presidents of eight EU states called for an accelerated accession process. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen stated that she supports Ukrainian accession, but that the process would take time. On 10 March 2022, the Council of the European Union asked the commission for its opinion on the application. On 8 April 2022, von der Leyen presented Zelenskyy with a legislative questionnaire, which Ukraine responded to on 9 May.

Events in the year 2014 in the European Union.

Events in the year 2016 in the European Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Accession of Moldova to the European Union</span> Ongoing accession process of Moldova to the EU

The accession of Moldova to the European Union (EU) is on the current agenda for future enlargement of the EU.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">European Green Deal</span> Plan to transform the EU into a climate-neutral economy by 2050

The European Green Deal, approved in 2020, is a set of policy initiatives by the European Commission with the overarching aim of making the European Union (EU) climate neutral in 2050. The plan is to review each existing law on its climate merits, and also introduce new legislation on the circular economy, building renovation, biodiversity, farming and innovation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leeds 2023</span> 2023 festival in Leeds

Leeds 2023, stylized as LEEDS 2023, was a designated year of culture taking place in Leeds, West Yorkshire, during 2023. Years of culture are specific years where a city or region dedicates significant resources to investing in cultural initiatives. Initially proposed as a bid to be the host city for European Capital of Culture, post-Brexit exclusion from European Union initiatives meant that Leeds could no longer bid. This resulted in Leeds City Council and partners deciding to run an independent year of culture in 2023.


  1. "Decision No 445/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014". 3 May 2014. Archived from the original on 21 December 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  2. "European Capitals of Culture 2020 to 2033 — A guide for cities preparing to bid" (PDF). European Commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 June 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  3. Palmer, Robert. "European Cities and Capitals of Culture" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 April 2015. Study prepared for the European Commission
  4. "Brexit blow to UK 2023 culture crown bids". BBC News . 23 November 2017. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  5. Kiran Klaus Patel, ed., The Cultural Politics of Europe: European Capitals of Culture and European Union since the 1980s (London: Routledge, 2013)
  6. "History – UNeECC". Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  7. "Association of European Cities of Culture of the Year 2000 – KRAKOW THE OPEN CITY". Archived from the original on 1 March 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  8. "Trenčín to be the European Capital of Culture 2026 in Slovakia". 10 December 2021. Archived from the original on 29 December 2021. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  9. "České Budějovice to be the European Capital of Culture 2028 in the Czech Republic". European Commission. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  10. "Bourges to be the European Capital of Culture 2028 in France". European Commission. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  11. "Designated European Capitals of Culture". European Union. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  12. "Raport z pre-selekcji konkursu o tytuł Europejskiej Stolicy Kultury 2029" (in Polish). Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (Poland). 6 December 2023. Retrieved 17 December 2023.
  13. 1 2 "Kiruna och Uppsala vill bli kulturhuvudstad". Kulturrådet (in Swedish). Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  14. "Πολιτιστική Πρωτεύουσα της Ευρώπης για το έτος 2030". Cyprus Miinistry of Culture. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  15. "European Capital Of Culture 2030 Belgium". ECOC2030BE. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  16. "Let's make Brussels the cultural capital of Europe!". Brussels2030.
  17. "Leuven stelt zich kandidaat als Europese Culturele Hoofdstad 2030". 15 December 2017. Archived from the original on 19 September 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  18. "Call for applications for the 2030 European Capital of Culture title for cities in EFTA/EEA countries, in candidate countries and in potential candidates for EU membership". European Commission. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  19. "Vild plan: Vil gøre Næstved til europæisk kulturhovedstad". 11 January 2022. Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  21. "Torino Capitale europea della Cultura nel 2033? Il Consiglio comunale dice "sì" alla candidatura". Torino Oggi. 19 April 2021. Archived from the original on 21 April 2021. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  22. Brady, Jon (23 November 2017). "Brexit destroys Dundee's hopes of being European Capital of Culture in 2023". Evening Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  23. Lorimer, Scott. "The latest news and sport from Dundee, Tayside and Fife". Evening Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  24. "European Capital of Culture". Milton Keynes Council. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  25. Meredith, Robbie (5 July 2017). "NI councils make bid for European Capital of Culture title". BBC News . Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  26. "European Capitals of Culture". European Union. 6 February 2021. Archived from the original on 2 March 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.