Tampere, together with 19 municipalities of Pirkanmaa, is applying for the title of European Capital of Culture for 2026.
Through its “Equally European” concept, Tampere26 promises to implement a broad cultural programme, from an ice ballet to a metal musical, from skateboarding projects to international discussions about human rights, from public sauna to opera. The projects will be happening throughout the region and around Europe. Tampere will reach out to Europeans and work on equality to bind us together and sharpen European values.
The bid book, presenting the Tampere26 project, is now available online. A summary in Finnish language can also be found on the same page.
Tampere26’s application is built around the core values of equality, diversity, accessibility and sustainability. The aim is to increase equality through culture, discuss social and environmental issues, increase the diversity and togetherness in our society and work on a common European identity.
“Equality has been a fundamental right for citizens of the European Union since its foundation. Tampere26 Equally European is a long-term development project where we invite Europeans to take care of equality, a value that is under threat. We still have a lot to learn on this matter, which is why our ECoC theme is relevant for the years to come.” says Project Manager Perttu Pesä.
At the heart of Tampere26’s application are four programme lines and two separate programme entities, presenting all together over a hundred projects.
The Party Time entity presents large-scale projects such as the Winter Party, our opening ceremony taking place between 1.1. – 4.1.2026, three seasonal festive weekends as well as the closing ceremony. Part of these is the Moomin on Ice ballet , bringing together ice-hockey and performing arts. We will also celebrate the opening of Tampere Art Museum’s new extension with the exhibition of Icelandic photographer Olafur Eliasson and the dance performance Finnish Maiden will explore the relationship between humans and robots.
The programme entity Equaliser aims to increase the working conditions and spaces, international cooperations and skills of local and European cultural actors. For example, the creative repurposing of the former Nekala school into a cultural center is involved.
Equaliser also presents Tampere’s legacy to Europe: the EDAS Tool (Equality, Diversity, Accessibility and Sustainability), a free-to-use digital tool for organisations to access and improve equality standards in their activities.
Tampere26 cultural and artistic programme consists of four lines:
In (R)evolutions we study through the lenses of art and culture the historical developments and current social and political issues of Tampere and Europe, tackling questions of equality and human rights.
Equally Yours celebrates cultural and artistic diversity, advocating for cultural equity. The projects, both analogue and digital, celebrate cultural heritage, fine arts and underground movements, focusing on cross-gender and cross-sectorial cooperations.
Village Hopping views equality through regional lenses and promotes the accessibility of culture in rural areas in Pirkanmaa and Europe. It encourages audiences to embark on an adventure, exploring Pirkanmaa’s villages, and works on reinforcing the region’s identity.
In Wild Card, educational, artistic and research projects give nature an equal standing, create awareness for our environmental crisis and develop sustainable tangible solutions.
Co-created by over 200 professionals
The bid book answers over 40 questions, selected by the European Commission. The questions cover, among others, the cultural strategy of the applicant and the way in which citizens have participated in the preparation of the project. It also presents the European Dimension of the project, and whether the applicant city has the infrastructural and financial capacity to organise such a year.
The bid book was written by Finnish authors Heikki Aleksanteri Kovalainen, Reidar Palmgren and Estonian writer Berk Vaher. Their work brought to light the work of 11 team members led by Perttu Pesä, City of Tampere’s Event Director. They collaborated with around 200 stakeholders and received over 1000 project proposals.
Pesä, Pauli Sivonen, Director of the Serlachius Museums in Mänttä-Vilppula, and theater director Marika Vapaavuori, form the artistic board who curated the Tampere26 programme.
If Tampere26 is chosen, a foundation will be established to administer the Capital of Culture year, its implementation and legacy.
Tampere26’s operating budget for the seven-year period (2021-2027) is 53.18 million €. The budget share of the Finnish State, which is still to be confirmed, is expected to be 18.75 million €. The City of Tampere also participates with the same amount of 18.75 million €. The municipalities’ share is 6.48 million € and the EU’s share is 4.6 million €. An extra funding of 4.6 million € should be attended through business cooperation and partnerships.
All participating municipalities have made official decisions about their commitment to Tampere26 project. The main partner, the municipality of Mänttä-Vilppula, has the largest contribution per inhabitant after Tampere. Other municipalities contribute with the same amount according to the amount of population.
Participating municipalities are Akaa, Hämeenkyrö, Ikaalinen, Kangasala, Kuhmoinen, Lempäälä, Mänttä-Vilppula, Nokia, Orivesi, Parkano, Pirkkala, Pälkäne, Ruovesi, Sastamala, Urjala, Valkeakoski, Vesilahti, Virrat and Ylöjärvi.
In case Tampere is not selected, all participating municipalities are also committed to a Plan B, with a budget of at least 10% of the proposed budget for the European Capital of Culture year.
In previous studies, the Capital of Culture year has been an economically viable investment for cities. For example, Turku’s budget for 2011 was slightly more than € 55 million. The total production of Southwest Finland grew by an estimated € 260 million.
Final selection in June
The selection of the European Capital of Culture 2026 will be made by a panel of European experts appointed by the European Commission on 2nd of June. They will choose between Tampere, Oulu and Savonlinna. The panel will evaluate each applicant’s bid based on their bid book, a city visit as well as a presentation and Q&A session done by the teams.
The European Commission’s application guidelines state that the name will not be awarded to a city on the basis of its cultural heritage or current vibrant cultural offerings, but on the basis of a specific programme that goes beyond the city’s regular cultural activities.
In 2026, a Slovakian European Capital of Culture will be appointed alongside the Finnish winner, which Tampere26 is excited to cooperate with. Altogether, the cultural programme of Tampere 26 is developed in cooperation with around 150 European and international partners and cities.
More information can be found on About page.
General ECoC information can be found on ECoC pages of Ministry of Culture and Education.