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European Cities and the “European Capital of Culture” Nomination

The official title “European Capital of Culture” (ECOC) has become one of the most prestigious and high-profile cultural events in Europe. Each year, cities chosen as European Capitals of Culture – in 2013 Marseille and Košice, in 2014 Umeå and Riga – provide living proof of the richness and diversity of European cultures. Culturebrand provides interested Cities with Strategic Consulting, Advise, Candidacy Management, Teambuilding, Curatorial Help, Network Building, Funding, Sponsorship, and Project Management Services.

Each year, two cities from two different European Member States will be selected. More than 40 cities have been designated European Capitals of Culture so far, from Stockholm to Genoa, Athens to Glasgow, Cracow to Porto, Graz to Lille, Essen to Riga, Linz to Vilnius. A city is not chosen as a European Capital of Culture solely for what it is, but mainly for what it plans to do for a year that has to be exceptional. Its programme for the year must meet some specific criteria. Candidacies for the European Capitals of Culture are extreme professional opportunities and more and more complex BID Books.


Culturebrand has started in 1999 to help nominated “European Capitals of Culture” and Candidate Cities from different countries with Consulting and Support. We consult ECOC Cities with conceptional and curatorial Support and we develop Cultural Project Management, Lobbying, Sponsorship, Fundraising, Marketing and Communication for ECOC’s and Candidate Cities. And we are able to use our exceptionally strong and hand-picked Cultural Partner Network in Europe.

We know the requirements, incredients and strategic environments for successful Candidacies and the Criterias from the European Commission. For many years, we have seen the ECOC-Concepts from European Cities and we built up an extensive Library and Data Base with ECOC Books, Candidacies, Concepts. Several of our Consultants have worked on Candadacies and in the ECOC-Teams.

Be inspired – The Video “The Road to Success”

The Project European Capital of Culture: Passion for Culture and Europe.

The European Capitals of Culture initiative is designed to:

  • Highlight the richness and diversity of Cultures in Europe
  • Celebrate the cultural features Europeans share
  • Increase European citizens’ sense of belonging to a common cultural area
  • Bring people from different European countries into contact with each other’s culture and promote mutual understanding
  • Foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities
  • Foster a feeling of European citizenship

In addition to this, the experience has shown that the ECOC Nomination,
as well as a good Candidacy is an excellent and valuable opportunity to:

  • Regenerating cities
  • Raising the international profile of cities
  • Enhancing the image of cities in the eyes of their own inhabitants
  • Breathing new life into a city’s culture and the cultural life
  • Boosting tourism

The Process for the Designation of European Capitals of Culture in the EU Member States

Six years before the title-year the selected host Member States publish a call for applications, usually through their Ministry for Culture. Cities interested in participating in the competition must submit a proposal for consideration. The submitted applications are reviewed against a set of established criteria during a pre-selection phase by a panel of independent experts in the field of culture. The panel agrees on a short-list of cities, which are then asked to submit more detailed applications.

The panel then reconvenes to assess the final applications and recommends one city per host country for the title. The recommended city will then be formally designated as European Capital of Culture. The role of the European Commission is to ensure that the rules established at EU level are respected all along the way.

From designation to implementation…

European Capitals of Culture are formally designated four years before the actual year. This long period of time is necessary for the planning and preparation of such a complex event. The panel, supported by the European Commission, has a continuing role during these four years in supporting European Capitals of Culture with advice and guidance and taking stock of their preparations. At the end of this monitoring period, the panel will consider whether to recommend or not that the European Commission pays the Melina Mercouri Prize (currently €1.5m funded from the EU Creative Europe programme).

… to evaluation of the outcomes

Each year the European Commission publishes an evaluation report on the outcomes of the European Capitals of Culture of the previous year. For the Capitals post 2019, the cities themselves will carry out their own evaluation and send it to the Commission by the end of the year following that of the title.

… a realistic Schedule…

Several Candidate Cities begin 6-10 years before the official nomination with the official announcement and to develope the preparatory work and communication. A professional and sustainable Candidacy can be used to vitalize the cultural life in the city and is a perfect instrument for tourism promotion and cultural communication.

… and a Workshop or a funding conference

Culturebrand has a long experience in Funding Conferences and Workshops for interested Cities for the European Capital of Culture Award. Please feel free to contact us for more and detailled information.

… to the Network of ECOC-Professionals.

Culturebrand is working with ECOC-Professionals and currently in the development of a strong and professional Consulting-Network for the European Capitals of Culture.

Previous European Capitals of Culture:

Athens | Florence | Amsterdam | Berlin | Paris | Glasgow |Dublin | Madrid | Antwerp | Lisbon | Luxembourg | Copenhagen | Thessaloniki | Stockholm | Weimar | Avignon | Bergen | Bologna | Brussels | Helsinki | Kraków | Prague | Reykjavík | Santiago de Compostela | Rotterdam | Porto | Bruges | Salamanca | Graz | Genoa | Lille |Cork | Patras | Sibiu | Luxembourg | Liverpool | Stavanger | Vilnius | Linz | Essen | Istanbul | Pécs | Turku | Tallinn | Guimarães | Maribor | Marseille | Košice | Riga (2014) | Umeå (2014)

Already nominated ECOC-Cities 2015 – 2022:

2015: Mons (Belgium) and Pilzeň Czech Republic)

2016: San Sebastián (Spain) and Wroclaw (Poland)

2017: Aarhus (Denmark) and Pafos (Cyprus)

2018: Leuwarden (Netherlands) and Valetta (Malta)

2019: Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy)

2020: Rijeka (Croatia) and Galway (Ireland)

2021: Timișoara (Romania), Elefsina (Greece) and Novi Sad (Serbia)

2022: Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch (Luxembourg)

2023: Elefsisa (Greece), Veszprém (Hungary), Timisoara (Romania)

2024: Bad Ischl (Austria), Tartu (Estonia) and Bodø (Norway)

2025: Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia)

2026: Oulu (Finland) and Trenčín (Slovakia)

2027: Liepāja (Latvia), Évora (Portugal)


The New ECOC-Framework: 2020 -2033

A new framework for the initiative, post 2019, has been adopted by the European Parliament and Council in April 2014. It includes the chronological list of Member States that can host the title from 2020 until 2033.

This 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. The Commission will be responsible for organizing the competition.

Please contact us for more and detailled information about the selection process 2023 – 2033 and for the Marketing,  Communication, and Sponsorship Opportunities for already nominated Cities.


Some Video Clips for your Inspiration:

Riga European Capital of Culture 2014:

Marseille European Capital of Culture 2013:

Essen and the Region Ruhrgebiet – European Capital of Culture 2010: The RUHR 2010 Video Clip:


Cities, Regions and Countries are more then ever required to develop creative and responsible communication scenarios to keep up with society and forthcoming developments, especially regarding the European Capitals of Culture and the new European Green Capitals and also regarding the Future of a new and sustainable Cultural Brand (the heart and soul) for Europe.


Contact for more Information. Please ask as well for our ECOC-City Strategy Paper. Thank you.

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