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UK City of Culture

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Hull City of Culture 2017

The UK City of Culture is a designation given to a city in the United Kingdom for a period of one year. The aim of the initiative, which is administered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is to "build on the success of Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture 2008, which had significant social and economic benefits for the area".[1] The inaugural holder of the award was Derry~Londonderry in 2013. In 2017, Kingston upon Hull took over the title. On 7 December 2017 it was declared that Coventry had been chosen to host in 2021.



In January 2009, it was announced that then Culture Secretary Andy Burnham was considering establishing a British City of Culture prize and that the winning city might possibly host events such as the Turner Prize, Brit Awards, Man Booker Prize and the Stirling Prize. Phil Redmond was invited to chair a panel set up to consider the proposal, with a remit including deciding how often the prize should be awarded.[2] A working group was established in March and reported in June 2009, suggesting that the designation be given to a city once every four years starting in 2013.[3]

The working group stated in its report that the same calendar of events, such as hosting the Brit Awards, should not be staged by each designated City of Culture. Rather, they suggested that the events held in the city should be decided on a case-by-case basis. The report lists possible core events, including those run by the BBC, Sony, the Poetry Book Society, the UK Film Council, the Tate, VisitEngland, VisitBritain, the Museums Association, the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, Channel 4 and the Arts Council England.[3]


Derry~Londonderry 2013

Following the report of the working group, Burnham's successor as Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw, announced a competition to select the first UK City of Culture in July 2009. The deadline for initial bids was 11 December 2009, with shortlisted cities having until 28 May to make their final bids.[4] A total of 14 cities applied, with four (Birmingham, Derry, Norwich and Sheffield) shortlisted.[5] At a special televised ceremony in Liverpool on 15 July 2010, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that Derry/Londonderry would be the first ever UK City of Culture.[6][7] The festival was spearheaded by Culture Company 2013 and they branded the city as Derry~Londonderry.[8]

Hull 2017

After 2013, the next UK City of Culture was scheduled for 2017. Officials from Aberdeen stated they would bid for the title,[9] as did officials from Dundee,[10] while local officials from Colchester,[11] Derby,[12] Leicester,[13] Plymouth,[14] Stoke-on-Trent,[15] Swansea,[16] Hull,[17] and York[18] suggested that those cities would bid for the 2017 title. On 18 April 2013, the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce announced that Portsmouth and Southampton were making a joint bid for the 2017 title.[19] There was also a bid from East Kent (Canterbury, Ashford, Folkestone, Dover and Thanet),[20] and another from Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea, supported by celebrity Graham Norton.[21]

In June 2013 the shortlist of four bids from Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay was announced.[22] The winner of the 2017 title was announced on 20 November 2013 and Hull was chosen.[23] TV producer Phil Redmond, who chaired the City of Culture panel, said Hull was the unanimous choice because it put forward "the most compelling case based on its theme as 'a city coming out of the shadows'". On 31 July 2014, Martin Green was announced as chief executive of the team. Green was previously head of ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and organised the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ ceremony in Yorkshire.[24]

On 1 January 2017, the Hull event opened with a fireworks display over the Humber Estuary and a series of sound and light installations collectively known as Made in Hull, which reportedly attracted more than 25,000 visitors.[25][26] By the end of the first week, the BBC was reporting that 342,000 people had participated in the opening events.[27] The event included multimedia sound and light projections onto landmark buildings in the city's Victoria Square[28] as well as a display of Hullywood Icons featuring local people recreating famous scenes from film.[29]

The BBC reported that a report by Hull University in March 2018 found Hull's status as the UK City of Culture attracted more than five million people, £220 million of investment and 800 new jobs.[30][31]

Coventry 2021

Swansea, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Sunderland were all shortlisted to be the third UK City of Culture. Coventry's win was announced by arts minister John Glen in Hull and broadcast live on The One Show on 7 December 2017. Glen said it was "an incredible opportunity for Coventry to boost investment in the local economy, grow tourism and put arts and culture centre stage".[32] In July 2020 it was announced that the start of Coventry's year as City of Culture had been put back to May 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[33]


Bradford, Chelmsford, Luton, Medway, Northampton, Southampton, Lancashire and Tees Valley have all expressed interest in bidding for UK City of Culture in 2025.[34][35][36][37][38][39][40]

Designated cities

Year Winning city Other shortlisted cities Date announced
2013 Derry~Londonderry Birmingham, Norwich, Sheffield 15 July 2010[6]
2017 Kingston upon Hull Dundee, Leicester, Swansea Bay 20 November 2013[23]
2021 Coventry Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea 7 December 2017[32]


  1. ^ "Derry/Londonderry will be UK City of Culture 2013". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  2. ^ Jones, Rebecca (7 January 2009). "Plans for British City of Culture". BBC News. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b "UK City of Culture: Working Group Report" (PDF). Department for Culture, Media and Sport. June 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 May 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  4. ^ "The race is on to find UK's first 'City of Culture' for 2013". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 14 July 2009. Archived from the original on 12 May 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Four UK cities make culture title shortlist". BBC News. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Londonderry named the UK City of Culture". BBC News. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  7. ^ "uk city of culture". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 15 July 2010.
  8. ^ "Culture Company 2013".
  9. ^ "Aberdeen to prepare bid for UK City of Culture title in 2017". BBC News. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Dundee aims to win UK City of Culture prize with festivals bid". The Courier. 30 April 2013. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Colchester: Successful bid to become UK's Capital of Culture 2017 could net town £10million boost". EADT24. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  12. ^ "Derby considers UK Capital of Culture title bid". BBC News. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Leicester – City of Culture Bid". BBC News. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Plymouth's decision to bid for City of Culture status". Plymouth Evening Herald. 3 March 2013. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  15. ^ "City to make bid to be UK Capital of Culture". The Sentinel. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  16. ^ "Swansea Bay is aiming to become the UK's City of Culture for 2017". The Wave. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  17. ^ "City of Culture bid: Send us your pictures to show off best of Hull". This is Hull and East Riding. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "York's UK City of Culture 2017 Bid Confirmed". One and Other. 6 February 2013. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  19. ^ Business News Hampshire. Hampshire Chamber. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  20. ^ East Kent bid chiefs submit City of Culture 2017 bid with hopes high – News. Kent News. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  21. ^ "Norton's heartfelt plea to culture judges – Local". Hastings and St. Leonards Observer. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  22. ^ "UK City of Culture 2017 shortlist of four announced". BBC News. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Hull named UK City of Culture 2017". BBC News. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  24. ^ "Hull hires Olympic ceremonies boss to head 2017 city of culture team". The Guardian. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  25. ^ "UK City of Culture: Fireworks and projections start Hull 2017". BBC. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  26. ^ "Made in Hull – the crowds keep coming". BBC. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  27. ^ "'Staggering' visitor numbers for culture city". BBC News. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  28. ^ "Made in Hull opens, Hull 2017 City of Culture – BBC Arts". BBC. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  29. ^ "Hullywood: Peter Levy is James Bond, Hull 2017 City of Culture – BBC Arts". BBC. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  30. ^ Bosworth, Mark (23 April 2018). "Do UK Cities of Culture create legacies?". BBC News. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  31. ^ "University of Hull reveals UK City of Culture 2017 evaluation | University of Hull". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  32. ^ a b "UK City of Culture 2021: Coventry wins". BBC. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  33. ^ "Coronavirus: Coventry City of Culture pushed back to May". BBC News. BBC. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  34. ^ Clayton, Emma (29 July 2019). "Title has huge cultural, social and economic potential for district". Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  35. ^ "Luton to bid for City of Culture in 2025". BBC. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  36. ^ "Chelmsford sets sights on being UK's City of Culture". Metro. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  37. ^ "Southampton to bid for UK City of Culture 2025". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  38. ^ "'Don't drive through... stop and visit': Council aspires for Northampton to win City of Culture 2025". Northampton Chronicle & Echo. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  39. ^ "'UK City of Culture 2025: Medway announces bid for honour': Medway is bidding to become the UK's City of Culture for 2025". BBC Website. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  40. ^ What could the Lancashire bid to be UK City of Culture 2025 bring to Preston? BlogPreston

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