As of January first 2023, three cities hold the title of European Capital of Culture in Europe – Elefsina (Greece), Timisoara (Romania) and Veszprém (Hungary), all of which have developed programmes to attract visitors throughout the year
Every year, Europe designates a couple of cities as a European Capital of Culture. The initiative was launched back to 1985 by the Greek Minister of Culture, actress and singer Melina Mercouri. The programme has since become one of the most high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe.
Cities are selected based on a cultural programme that must have a strong European dimension, including promoting participation and involvement by city inhabitants, communities and stakeholders. The aim is to contribute to the long-term development of the city and its surrounding region.
To be the European Capital of Culture also helps regenerating cities, raising their international profiles, enhancing the image of cities in the eyes of their own inhabitants, breathing new life into the city’s cultural offer and, last but least, boosting tourism.
More than 60 cities from the EU but also from countries outside the Union have carried the prestigious title. The special programmes already started in the three chosen cities.
Veszprém, Hungary, the ‘City of Queens’, is the second Hungarian city to hold the prestigious title after Pécs in 2010. The festivities are shared with the Bakony-Balaton region. Over 100 towns and villages in three neighbouring counties have cooperated to develop literally thousands of ambitious and exciting projects in 2023 – and beyond.
The Grand Opening took place in Veszprém on January 21-22 January. Under the title “Come shine with us!” the year-long programme for events includes music and dance festivals, art exhibitions, performance art and the gastronomy and wine scene, and much more. More details about the programme are available here.
The city’s artistic programme for the year is called the “Mysteries of Transition,” taking its cue from the Elefsinian mysteries of ancient Greece. It kicks off with an opening ceremony on 4-5 February, with another 465 events involving 130 projects throughout the year.
The programme has three main elements: people/society, environment and labour. Environment will have a special focus as a subject inextricably linked with the challenges Elefsina as a (post)industrial city – as well as the wider world – is facing.
Elefsina is the fourth city in Greece to hold the title. Athens, the birthplace of the European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) programme, was not only the first city in Greece to hold it but also the first one in the European Union. More information about Elefsina programme are to be found here.
In 1884, Timișoara was the first city on mainland Europe to have electric street lighting. In 1989, the sparks of the Revolution against Ceaușescu’s regime were ignited on the streets of Timișoara. In 2023, the Timișoara European Capital of Culture will light up with conversation about courage and diversity.
Under the theme “Shine your light – Light up your city!” the programme kicks off with opening events on 17-19 February. The programme is structured around people, places and connections.
Throughout the year there will be learning opportunities (conferences, seminars, workshops), exhibitions, performances and many music and performative arts festivals.
Timisoara is the second city in Romania to hold the ECoC title, after Sibiu in 2007. Information over Timisoara rich programme can be seen here.
Future European Capital City of Culture have been already attributed until 2027. In 2024, the nominees are Bad Ischl (Austria), Tartu (Estonia) and Bodø (Norway); in 2025, it will be Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia). Oulu (Finland) and Trenčín (Slovakia) are designated for 2026 while in 2027, it will be the turn of Liepāja (Latvia) and Evora (Portugal, pending final endorsement by national authorities).