European Capital of Culture

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The 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.

Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the 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.

In 1985, Melina Mercouri, Greece’s minister of culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital 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.

Selection process[edit]

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 been 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 in 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 the 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 by 2023 it is expected that the UK will no longer be an EU member[4]


Valletta (Malta), the European Capital of Culture for 2018
Leeuwarden (Netherlands) is the European Capital of Culture for 2018

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. During the German presidency of 1999, the European City of Culture programme was renamed the European Capital of Culture.[5]

List of European Capitals of Culture[edit]

European Capitals of Culture
Year # City Country Notes/Links
1985 Athens  Greece
1986 Florence  Italy
1987 Amsterdam  Netherlands
1988 Berlin  East Germany
 West Berlin
1989 Paris  France
1990 Glasgow  United Kingdom
1991 Dublin  Ireland
1992 Madrid  Spain
1993 Antwerp  Belgium
1994 Lisbon  Portugal
1995 Luxembourg  Luxembourg
1996 Copenhagen  Denmark
1997 Thessaloniki  Greece
1998 Stockholm  Sweden
1999 Weimar  Germany
2000 Avignon  France The year 2000, called the millennium year, was treated by the European Union in a special way, in order to emphasize the enduring heritage and contribution of European cities to the achievements of world culture and civilization. Because of that, as many as nine locations were chosen, including two cities of states that were to join the EU on 1 May 2004.[6]
Bergen  Norway
Bologna  Italy
Brussels  Belgium
Helsinki  Finland
Kraków  Poland
Prague  Czech Republic
Reykjavík  Iceland
Santiago de Compostela  Spain
2001 Rotterdam  Netherlands
Porto  Portugal
2002 Bruges  Belgium
Salamanca  Spain
2003 Graz  Austria
2004 Genoa  Italy
Lille  France
2005 Cork  Ireland
2006 Patras  Greece
2007 Sibiu  Romania Sibiu 2007
Luxembourg  Luxembourg
2008 Liverpool  United Kingdom
Stavanger  Norway
2009 Vilnius  Lithuania
Linz  Austria Linz 2009
2010 Essen  Germany representing the Ruhr as Ruhr.2010
Istanbul  Turkey
Pécs  Hungary Pécs 2010
2011 Turku  Finland
Tallinn  Estonia
2012 Guimarães  Portugal
Maribor  Slovenia Maribor 2012
2013 Marseille  France Marseille-Provence 2013
Košice  Slovakia
2014 Riga  Latvia
Umeå  Sweden Umeå 2014
2015 Mons  Belgium Mons 2015
Plzeň  Czech Republic Plzeň 2015
2016 San Sebastián  Spain San Sebastián 2016
Wrocław  Poland Wrocław 2016
2017 Aarhus  Denmark Aarhus 2017
Paphos  Cyprus Pafos 2017
2018 Leeuwarden  Netherlands Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018
Valletta  Malta Valletta 2018
2019 Matera  Italy Matera 2019
Plovdiv  Bulgaria Plovdiv 2019
2020 Rijeka  Croatia Rijeka 2020
Galway  Ireland Galway 2020
2021 1 Timișoara[7]  Romania Timișoara 2021
2 Elefsina[8]  Greece Elefsina 2021
31 Novi Sad  Serbia Novi Sad 2021
2022 Kaunas  Lithuania Kaunas 2022
Esch-sur-Alzette  Luxembourg Esch-sur-Alzette 2022
20232 TBA  Hungary shortlisted candidate cities:Debrecen,[9]Győr,[10]Veszprém[11]

cancelled candidate cities: Gödöllő, Eger,[12] Miskolc,[13] Székesfehérvár, Tokaj,[14]

2024 1 TBA  Estonia potential candidate cities: Tartu, Narva
2 TBA  Austria bids until 31 December 2018[15]
31 TBA TBA bids until 10 October 2018[16]
2025 TBA  Slovenia
tender to open in 2018[17]
 Germany potential candidate cities: Bremen,[18] Chemnitz,[19] Dresden,[20] Frankfurt,[21] Halle/Saale,[22] Hildesheim,[23] Magdeburg,[24][25] Nürnberg[1],[26] Würzburg[27]
2026 TBA  Slovakia
TBA  Finland potential candidate cities: Mänttä-Vilppula
2027 1 TBA  Latvia
2 TBA  Portugal potential candidate cities: Aveiro, Leiria, Braga,[28] Faro, Évora, Ponta Delgada
2028 TBA  Czech Republic
TBA  France potential candidate cities: Clermont-Ferrand
2029 TBA  Poland
TBA  Sweden
2030 1 TBA  Cyprus
2 TBA  Belgium potential candidate : Leuven,[29] Liège
2031 TBA  Malta potential candidate: Tarxien, Cottonera, Sliema, & Gozo
TBA  Spain potential candidate cities: Cáceres, Granada
2032 TBA  Bulgaria
TBA  Denmark
2033 1 TBA  Netherlands
2 TBA  Italy

1 A new framework makes it possible for a city in a candidate country or potential candidate for EU membership 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.[30]

2 The European Capital of Culture was due to be in the UK in 2023. However, due to its decision to leave the European Union in 2016, 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.[31] The candidate cities were Dundee,[32] Leeds, Milton Keynes,[33] Nottingham[34] and a joint bid from Northern Irish cities Belfast, Derry and Strabane.[35] This caused anger amongst the UK candidate city's bidding teams due to the very short notice of the decision, and because of the amount of money they had already spent preparing their bids.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Palmer, Robert (2004) "European Cities and Capitals of Culture" Part I. Part II. Study prepared for the European Commission
  4. ^ "Brexit blow to UK 2023 culture crown bids". BBC News. 23 November 2017. 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. ^ Association of European Cities of Culture of the Year 2000
  7. ^ Selection of the European Capital of Culture in 2021 in Romania, The Selection Panel’s report Pre-Selection Stage
  8. ^ Elefsina to be the European Capital of Culture in Greece in 2021
  9. ^ "2023-ban Európa Kulturális Fővárosa lehet Debrecen". 22 January 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  10. ^ "Európa Kulturális Fővárosa 2023: Számítanak a győriek javaslataira - Győr Megyei Jogú Város Honlapja". Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  11. ^ "Európa Kulturális Fővárosa 2023 Archívum - Veszprém Kukac". Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  12. ^ "Európa Kulturális Fővárosa 2023: Eger biztosan pályázik | | Közélet | Heves megyei hírek". 23 August 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  13. ^ "Európa kulturális fővárosa: A jövőre vonatkozó elképzelések kellenek - Észak-Magyarország". 11 November 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  14. ^ "Tokaj kandidál az Európa Kulturális Fővárosa címre". 20 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  15. ^ "Europäische Kulturhauptstadt 2024 in Österreich". Bundeskanzleramt Österreich. Retrieved 14 October 2017. 
  16. ^ [citation needed]
  17. ^ "Kulturhauptstadt Europas 2025 - Festlegung der Grundzüge des nationalen Auswahlverfahrens" (PDF) (in German). Kultusministerkonferenz. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2017. 
  18. ^ Kulturhauptstadt 2025 – soll Bremen es nochmal versuchen? Archived 5 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Chemnitz will Europäische Kulturhauptstadt werden
  20. ^ Dresden will Kulturhauptstadt 2025 werden Archived 19 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Frankfurt soll sich gemeinsam mit Offenbach bewerben
  22. ^ Halle will "Kulturhauptstadt Europas" werden
  23. ^ "Stadt Hildesheim - Tagung zum Thema „Kulturhauptstadt Europas 2025"". Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  24. ^ "kulturhauptstadt werden" (in German). Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  25. ^ Magdeburg als Europäische Kulturhauptstadt 2025
  26. ^ Nürnberg bewirbt sich als Kulturhauptstadt Europas
  27. ^ Würzburger OB offen für Bewerbung Archived 4 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ "RUM". Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  29. ^ "Leuven stelt zich kandidaat als Europese Culturele Hoofdstad 2030". Retrieved 17 December 2017. 
  30. ^ "European Capitals of Culture". European Union. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  31. ^ Brady, Jon (23 November 2017). "Brexit destroys Dundee's hopes of being European Capital of Culture in 2023". Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 23 November 2017. 
  32. ^ Lorimer, Scott. "The latest news and sport from Dundee, Tayside and Fife". Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  33. ^ "European Capital of Culture - Milton Keynes Council". Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ Meredith, Robbie (5 July 2017). "NI councils make bid for European Capital of Culture title". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 

External links[edit]