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The national cities of culture, focus on Uk

Coventry Cathedral Coventry Cathedral Photo by ian kelsall from Pixabay

All European countries participate in the European Capital of Culture competition. Some countries have also activated the national competition for cities of culture. The latest is France as we have told here. By the end of the month they will choose the French city, capital of culture for 2022.

Since 2014, Italy too has its own culture's city. In 2022 it will be the island of Procida. For 2023 the Italian government has decided that the national cities will be Brescia and Bergamo without participating in any competition. It will be a tribute to the cities that have lost the most victims with the first phase of the pandemic. For 2024, some cities have already decided to apply as Saluzzo Monviso.

In the United Kingdom the national city of culture competition is played every 4 years. 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". In 2009, following a competitive selection process, Derry-Londonderry was selected as the first UK City of Culture and held the title in 2013. Hull was selected as UK City of Culture in 2013, and held the title in 2017. Coventry was selected in 2017 to hold the title in 2021.

The overall aim of the UK City of Culture programme is to encourage the use of culture and creativity as a catalyst for regeneration, to promote the development of new partnerships and to encourage ambition and innovation in cultural and creative activity. Previous ‘cities of culture’ have experienced significant regeneration, economic growth, jobs growth, skills growth, an increase in tourism and a significant improvement in civic pride and community cohesion. Cities and areas that bid for the title will need to spell out their own vision for UK City of Culture and how they will use it in making a step change in their area and creating a lasting legacy. The next will be in 2025 and the winning bid will be announced in December 2021.

Which cities are running for 2025?


The application paves the way for culture led regeneration in Lancashire. The programme will drive economic development by substantially raising the profile of Lancashire, drawing in visitors and attracting investment by positioning the county as a Virtual City of the Future. Lancashire 2025 expects to present the initial application to the UK Government Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in April 2021.

The website here


The council-backed bid will be led by a team including the University of Bradford, Bradford College and live arts company the Brick Box. Bradford district, which as the UK’s 6th largest city is twice the size of Hull which hosted the title in 2017, is one of the youngest cities in Europe (29% of its population under 20 and nearly a quarter under 16) and one of the most diverse in the UK. Bradford is home to the National Science and Media Museum, the Alhambra Theatre, playhouses in Bradford, Bingley, Keighley and Ilkley and a cultural heritage that includes the Brontës, JB Priestley, David Hockney and Zayn Malik. It recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of being named the first UNESCO City of Film.

The website here.


Southampton is bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2025, this is a huge opportunity for the city to celebrate the wealth of cultural activity already taking place, showcase the city’s diversity and use these to address some of the challenges the city is facing. This is about celebrating what this city has and using the journey to achieve our ambitions as a city. Southampton is a city of more than a quarter of a million people and has two universities, it is home to Southampton Football Club a Premier League team and is a destination city for shopping in the region. Southampton is a very busy cruise and commercial port with millions of people and containers travelling through each year.

The website here


“We want to showcase Medway on a national stage and host a year-long, future-looking cultural programme that represents the diversity and creativity of Medway. Medway has a rich heritage and increasing population, bidding for 2025 City of Culture will put Medway on the map and winning will bring major social and economic benefits to the area. We aim to engage our whole population and invite people from around the country to visit and take part in a programme rooted in our culture and heritage”. (From website)

The website here.

Other entrants who are expected to enter the contest are Luton and Tees Valley although at the moment they seem to have frozen the idea.

And then there is Leeds which has had to deal with the aftermath of the Brexit.

In 2015 Leeds announced its intention to bid for European Capital of Culture 2023. Following the European Commission's decision for the UK to no longer able to bid to be part of the European Capital of Culture Competition, the City Council, along with partners, committed to a five-year cultural investment programme culminating in a year of cultural celebration in 2023.

“Starting on 1st January, 2023 will be an extraordinary, year-long programme of creative experiences. Co-created with local, national and international artists, Leeds 2023 will be for Leeds, with Leeds and inspired by Leeds. A showcase of creativity across all forms of culture: from dance to design, art to architecture, poetry to pop, sculpture to sport, grassroots community theatre to performances on our world class stages, Leeds 2023 will have something for everyone. Fuelled by a belief in the power of artistic expression and cultural experiences to transform lives, Leeds 2023 will unlock talent and creative opportunities for people from every district in the city.

New connections, collaborations, creative excellence and friendships forged in building Leeds 2023 will play a vital role on our city’s journey to becoming a cultural giant in the world; one that benefits all Leeds people now and long into the future”. (By Leeds2023 website)



Serafino Paternoster

Ecocnews Founder, Journalist, repentant jazz guitarist, music critic and film lover.

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