Towards the European Capital of Culture

Tampere and the Tampere Region are applying together to become the next European Capital of Culture in 2026

Trail of Light. Photo: Visit Tampere / Laura Vanzo

The next time a Finnish city will be designated as the European Capital of Culture is in 2026. Tampere and the Tampere Region are applying together to become the next European Capital of Culture because our aim is to create a European case study on how to increase equality through culture. We want to use equality to direct our attention to the cultural and artistic issues that need fixing, and we believe we may thus promote social change.

A diverse year

The European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) has been a European Union-supported program for more than 30 years, giving European cities the opportunity to present their cultural life on a diverse basis for a year. The main intention of the program is to highlight European values and the diversity of European cultures.

In Tampere’s bid, culture is widely understood, and sports will form part of it. The European Capital of Culture year brings a wide range of civic activities with it. For many cities, the year has also had permanent impacts on the economy, community, tourism and the cityscape, among other things.

Tammerfest 2017. Photo: Laura Vanzo/Visit Tampere

Through culture towards wellbeing

Our goal is to build a regionally equal community where everyone has the right to experience culture. Through culture and the arts, we can permanently enhance our quality of life and build resilience for meeting the global challenges around us.

We seek to promote equality through cultural sustainability, meaning the shared production of values through human activities. By doing things together, we will create a strong local and European identity that bridges the gap between cultures.

Flowpark Varala. Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere

Tampere and the Tampere Region’s application to become the European Capital of Culture 2026 is now published!

In addition to Tampere and the main municipal partner Mänttä-Vilppula, the application involves 18 municipalities of the Tampere Region: Akaa, Hämeenkyrö, Ikaalinen, Kangasala, Kuhmoinen, Lempäälä, Nokia, Orivesi, Parkano, Pirkkala, Pälkäne, Ruovesi, Sastamala, Urjala, Valkeakoski, Vesilahti, Virrat and Ylöjärvi.

Tampere and the Tampere Region’s second – and final – bid book to become the European Capital of Culture called “Equally European” was published on April 22, 2021. Equality is both a theme and a tool for us. Equality is a unifying value between diverse Europeans – even when we disagree over its meaning and challenges. Our concept Equally European reaches out beyond our borders to engage all Europeans to discuss equality with us.

A Finnish city will be elected a Capital of Culture 2026 by a European panel and the selection will be confirmed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The bid book will be presented to the panel of experts in spring 2021. On June 2 the panel will decide which Finnish city will be the European Capital of Culture 2026. Two cities are usually appointed each year. That same year, the other Capital of Culture will be from Slovakia. Finland has so far had two Capitals of Culture; Helsinki in 2000 and Turku in 2011.

Read Tampere’s bid book here
Photo: Ville Salervo,

Dawn Jani Birley tells basic facts about Tampere Region European Capital of Culture bid with International Sign Language

Dawn Jani Birley is a Canadian deaf actress, television anchor, educator and a popular taekwondo practitioner. She is a fluent speaker of nine languages including five sign languages: American Sign Language, Finnish Sign Language, Swedish Sign Language, Norwegian Sign Language and International Sign.

Our new leaflet “Towards the European Capital of Culture” has been published!

This is how the project will proceed

The program for the Tampere Region European Capital of Culture year will be implemented by cultural operators from the Tampere Region, together with European partners. The artistic board will be responsible for planning the content of the program. The project is being led by Perttu Pesä, Event Director of Tampere. The artistic board also involves Pauli Sivonen, Director of the Serlachius Museums in Mänttä-Vilppula, and Marika Vapaavuori, theater director.

The project started in the spring of 2019 with workshops, discussions and an open survey. Based on the ideas collected from these, we created, among other things, the themes of our Capital of Culture application. Results of the survey have also been used in drafting Tampere’s cultural strategy.

After the themes were published in August 2019, we issued an open call for program proposals. The open call for program proposals yielded a thousand ideas for both the Capital of Culture year 2026, and the preceding years.

Serlachius Museum Gösta at Mänttä-Vilppula


28 May 2018

The City Board of Tampere decides to apply to become the Capital of Culture

30 March 2019

Opening ceremony in Hiedanranta in Tampere

1 April 2019

Capital of Culture application period starts.

May-July 2019

We meet with residents, experts and artists and visit the cooperating municipalities

We collect ideas through an open survey

We have a stand for collecting ideas at various events

We are involved in developing the cultural strategy of the City of Tampere


August 2019

We publish the themes of the Capital of Culture application and issue a call for program proposals

Autumn 2019 - Spring 2020

We write our Capital of Culture application

We discuss with artists, residents and experts in Tampere, the Tampere Region and elsewhere in Finland to hear their ideas

We organise events, workshops and conferences

Through the open call for program proposals we gather ideas for the coming years and the Capital of Culture year

We grow our international networks and create joint projects and productions together with our European partners


We present our first phase application to a European panel in May 2020

We start working on our second phase application


We present our second phase application to the panel

June 2 we find out which Finnish city will be the Capital of Culture 2026


Preparations for the Capital of Culture year

Proposed programming is carried out already before the Capital of Culture year and developed further

We create international collaborative projects

We deepen our cooperation with residents and experts of the region


Tampere and the Tampere Region aim to be the European Capital of Culture in 2026

2027 ->

Evaluating and reporting the outcomes of the Capital of Culture year

Implementing and consolidating processes to increase the region’s vitality

European Capitals of Culture increase a region’s vitality in the long term

By designating Capitals of Culture, the European Union wants to highlight European values and cultural diversity as well as increase cultural exchanges in Europe as a part of the Creative Europe programme. The idea is not to focus only on the Capital of Culture year, but rather for the programme to influence the region’s culture and its accessibility, sense of community and cooperation, as well as the city brand and tourism. Capitals of Culture have been designated since 1985 and since 2009 two cities have been annually selected as European Capitals of Culture.

Let’s use our Scandinavian neighbour, Aarhus as reference. The European Capital of Culture year 2017 was a success for Aarhus in Denmark. It increased turnover of the private businesses in the Central Denmark Region of 159.1 million EUR in 2017 alone, due to increased tourism attributable to Aarhus. For each publicly invested krone, revenue increased by DKK 3, equivalent to 300%. As many as 1,965 full-time jobs were created in Denmark from 2013-2017 as a result of Aarhus 2017. So, the bid for for European Capital of Culture is also a project for economic vitality and competitiveness. Source: Welcome Future. Short-term impact of European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017

Find out more from the website of the EU programme
Lovelocks on the Patosilta bridge. Photo: Laura Vanzo, Visit Tampere