10 things you need to know about European Capitals of Culture

10 things you need to know about European Capitals of Culture
Copyright Photo by Wenni Zhou
Copyright Photo by Wenni Zhou
By Camille Bello
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A very prestigious event that celebrates the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe


The European Capitals of Culture is a very prestigious year-long cultural event that lives to highlight and celebrate the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe. Every year a new city becomes the capital of the event and encourages the sense of belonging European citizens have to their common cultural area.

Here are ten things you need to know about the event.

1)European Capitals of Culture started in 1985 and was an initiative of the Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri. It was initially called the European City of Culture, and although it’s been renamed, its purpose remains to bring citizens of the European Union closer together.

2) It takes 6 years for an elected city to get ready. Six years before an elected city becomes the heart of the project, selected host members make a call for applications. Cities interested submit a nomination for consideration and then a rigorous process takes place. Next, an international panel of culture experts recommends one city per host country, which are later formally designated as European Capital of Culture. The formal and final designation generally occurs four years before the actual event. From then, a panel supported by the European Commission designs and prepares the great event.

3) European Capitals of Culture give prosperity to the cities that take part. Economic growth, new infrastructure, great international exposure, and a sense of pride in their own residents are only a few of the privileges. Each Euro of public money invested in Mons 2015 (European Capital of Culture of the year) is estimated to have generated at least 5 times more for the local economy. During Wroclaw 2016 (Poland), more than 40% of the city´s cultural industry reported a rise in turnover. Culture is continually becoming more related to countries´ development, and consequently, the event is evermore prestigious.

4) European Capitals of Culture is also a platform for regional creativity. Involving the local community in the production of the event has also become a matter of method. The program has a commitment to include activities sensitive to the local population.

**5) Valletta (Malta) is one of the 2018 European Capitals of Culture. **The opening ceremony is already being held and will finish the 21st of January. The central theme of the Maltese year is "Imagine 18", an artistic identity that pushes boundaries and welcomes dialogue, creativity, and innovation. The 2018 program includes festivals and activities in science, arts, gastronomy among many others.

**6) Leeuwarden (Netherlands) is the other 2018 European Capital of Culture. **The opening ceremony in the city of Leeuwarden will take place the following week on the 26th and 27th of January. The central theme for the Dutch city is "The iepen mienskip - open community" which intends to connect diverse communities across Europe and to encourage curiosity around each other's ideas, online and offline. 

7) European Capitals of Culture´s initiative has been going on for 33 years and has awarded more than 50 cities across the European Union. The first one was Athens, the second Florence and the third one Amsterdam.

8) The year 2000, the millennium year, was considered as a symbol to celebrate the cultural achievements of civilizations, 9 cities were designated that year.

9) You can by now start planning your next vacation. The cities for the next four years have already been designated, the 2019 lucky towns will be Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy). Visiting Plovdiv Old Town and Sassi di Matera are a must!

10) The preselection process for the 2023 European Capital of Culture is currently going on in Hungary. If you would like your city to be part of the competition, wait for the announcement to happen in your own country, it is usually given by the Ministry of Culture.

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