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What is European Capital of Culture?

Each year, two or three cities in two or three different European countries are chosen to become the European Capitals of Culture.

The competition was created to highlight the rich and diverse nature of European culture, using our differences and rich history as catalysts to bring the continent closer together.

Since Athens was crowned the first European Capital of Culture in 1985, winning the title has helped bidding cities to:

  • Regenerate
  • Raise international profile
  • Reposition their image
  • Significantly boost tourism
  • Attract major funding
  • Increase cultural participation from local population
  • Develop jobs and skills in creative industries
  • Build civic pride
  • Breathe new life into local culture as a whole
  • Provide a catalyst for growth and development
  • Foster a culture of respect and celebrate their diverse population

The competition is delivered by the European Commission, but non-EU member states have hosted in the past and will do so in the future. Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are all outside of the EU, yet have hosted successful European Capitals of Culture.

In 2023 a city from the UK and a city from Hungary will host the title.

Our bid

Leeds 2023 is our bid to become European Capital of Culture.

We started planning in 2014, and our application will be submitted to the European Commission panel on 27 October 2017. Our submission will then be judged based on the following six criteria:

  • Contribution to the city’s long-term cultural strategy
  • European dimension
  • Cultural and artistic content
  • Capacity to deliver
  • Outreach
  • Management

In 2018, the winning cities from UK and Hungary will be chosen to become European Capitals of Culture for 2023.