European Capitals of Culture 2018: Leeuwarden & Valletta


The Netherlands and Malta are the two EU Member States hosting a European Capital of Culture in 2018.

European Capital of Culture LogoThe independent selection panel appointed to assess the Dutch cities applying to be European Capital of Culture in 2018 met in Amsterdam on 6 September and recommended the Dutch city of Leeuwarden for the title. Leeuwarden beat off the challenge of Eindhoven and Maastricht. The winning city will be formally designated by the EU’s Council of Ministers, normally in May 2014.

The other European Capital of Culture for 2018 is the city of Valletta, which was officially designated last May following Malta’s decision to proceed with its selection procedure one year ahead of the normal time schedule.

The designated cities will propose a cultural programme with a strong European dimension including the participation of citizens living in the city, its neighbourhood and the whole country.

The European dimension will be reflected in the chosen themes and the way in which the events in the programme will be organised.

Video: Announcement of Leeuwarden as European Capital of Culture 2018


Selecting a Capital of Culture
The Council of the European Union is the only institution that can award the title of European Capital of Culture.

From 2011, two cities – from two different EU countries – are European Capitals of Culture each year.
The procedure for choosing a city starts around six years in advance – though the order of Member States entitled to host the event is fixed before then and is organised in two stages. It involves a panel of independent experts in the cultural field responsible for assessing the proposals. Once designated, the preparations of the European Capitals of Culture are monitored.

List of countries hosting the title until 2019

History of the European Capital of Culture
Each year, cities chosen as European Capitals of Culture – in 2013 Marseille and Košice – provide living proof of the richness and diversity of European cultures. Started in 1985, the initiative has become one of the most prestigious and high-profile cultural events in Europe.

More than 40 cities have been designated European Capitals of Culture so far, from Stockholm to Genoa, Athens to Glasgow, and Cracow to Porto.

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.

The European Capitals of Culture initiative was set up to:

  • highlight the richness and diversity of European cultures;
  • celebrate the cultural ties that link Europeans together;
  • bring people from different European countries into contact with each other’s culture and promote mutual understanding;
  • foster a feeling of European citizenship.

In addition, studies have shown that the event is a valuable opportunity to:

  • regenerate cities;
  • raise their international profile and enhance their image in the eyes of their own inhabitants
  • give new vitality to their cultural life;
  • raise their international profile, boost tourism and enhance their image in the eyes of their own inhabitants.

For more information, please visit the European Capital Of Culture website.

(source: European Commission – DG EAC)