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European Capital of Culture

Lublin is one of the four cities shortlisted in the prestigious competition for the title of the European Capital of Culture 2029. A panel of international experts rated our city’s application as one of the best. Being shortlisted alone is a significant achievement. Winning the title, in turn, can result in a wide range of positive changes, bringing about cultural but also social and economic benefits for the city. So, what exactly is the European Capitals of Culture competition?

The idea was born 40 years ago in Greece. The European Capital of Culture year in subsequent European cities was intended to strengthen the integration of the European Union, and to present the cultural achievements of the EU countries. Each European Capital of Culture prepares an annual programme that focuses on the culture-forming potential of the city, region, country, and its international and European contexts. So far, over 60 cities held the title, including two in Poland: Kraków in 2000 (granted in a non-competitive manner) while Wrocław was chosen in a competition to host the European Capital of Culture in 2016.

At first, the European Capital of Culture title was awarded to large, recognizable cities with a rich, global, artistic life. Over time, the emphasis shifted to select cities whose potential has not been yet discovered on the international arena. This approach provides the cities with a great opportunity for promotion across Europe. It often becomes the starting point for positive change, that residents recognize long after the conclusion of the project.

The ECoC competition is not only about great festivals, prestigious performances and exhibitions. Nowadays, the best-rated programs are those showcasing the cultural richness and diversity of Europe, civilizational values that are key to the European Union, and proposals that strengthen the sense of community and integration. However, participation in the ECoC competition is also an opportunity to face cultural and civilizational challenges, to revitalize life on a cultural level and increase the well-being of city residents. Therefore, when creating a program proposal, candidate cities should not only take into account the strengths, but also diagnose problems that can be overcome and solved.

The competition

The selection procedure takes place in two stages. All cities competing for the 2029 title had to submit their applications by September 15, 2023, for the pre-selection. The first, 60-page document outlines the organizational and financial possibilities of programme’s implementation. The panel of international experts examined the applications and recommended a short list. The cities that advanced to the second stage of the competition are Lublin, Bielsko-Biała, Katowice, and Kołobrzeg. Selection of the ECoC will be based on the assessment of the revised applications, which are currently prepared, and the presentation of the shortlisted city. The designated Capital of Culture for 2029 will be announced in September 2024.
The title European Capital of Culture is based on a rotation principle. The designated Polish city will hold it in 2029. The selection takes place five years before the start of the title year, followed by a multi-year preparation process.