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Being the European Capital of Youth or of Culture

Last updated on Thursday, 23/03/2023

Visiting a European city is always a great idea. Extra touch to your experience? Check the programme of cities that have been elected Capital of Culture or of Youth.

European Capitals of Culture

On European matters, the focus of the attention is usually on politics or economics, it’s time now to highlight both the richness and diversity of European cultures.

This was the idea of Melina Mercouri and Jack Lang (Ministers of Culture in Greece and France) in 1985 when they laid the foundations of the European Capitals of Culture initiative. 

The European Capitals of Culture are selected four years in advance in the framework of a competition organized at national level but following the same criteria defined at European level. Elected cities become the European Capital of Culture for a period of 12 months. 

Wearing this title requires a strong commitment; a series of cultural events need to be organised in the area and framed in a European context. 

Over 60 cities were nominated so far and this honour gave them the chance to benefit from positive outcomes: from a tourism boost to an enhancement of appreciation from their inhabitants, from the rise of their international profile to the increase in the citizens' sense of belonging to a common European area.

The 2023 European Capitals of Culture are Elefsina (Greece), Veszprém (Hungary) and Timisoara (Romania). 

Discover more about their cultural programme here and have a look at our article related to European Heritage Label sites to enhance your list of cultural sites to visit around the EU.


European Youth Capital

It started out as an initiative of the European Youth Forum (a platform that brings together national youth councils and international youth NGOs in Europe) in 2009. Five years later, in 2014, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe officially recognised the European Youth Capital title, becoming partner of the initiative. 

What does it mean being the European Youth Capital of the year? Quoting directly from the European Youth Forum, the prize is designed to empower young people, boost youth participation and strengthen European identity. 

Therefore, any European city focusing on giving young people the opportunity to contribute, speak up, share ideas in all the fields can be selected. They need to look in the same direction: changing and improving politically, culturally and economically their city and society. 

The first city who got the title was Rotterdam, port city in The Netherlands which presented a programme that can be summed up in two words: YOUR WORLD. The goal was to involve young people (between 12 and 27) in the territory through over 500 activities. 

The EYC of 2023 is Lublin (Poland), carrying out a rich programme, featuring several events.

The European Youth Capitals are elected around 2 years in advance. If you think your city could apply, do not hesitate to check the requirements and consider submitting an application! In many cases, youth organisations are working hand in hand with their municipalities.

You can check here for an overview of the past and future selected European Youth Capitals.