Finnish city of Oulu wins race for European Capital of Culture 2026

Oulu city hall. Image: maylat/Canva

The first European Capital of Culture for 2026 has been announced. On 2 June, the expert panel announced that Oulu, located in Northern Finland, takes the title. They beat the Finish cities of Savonlinna and Tampere to it. Oulu’s concept of the European Capital of Culture project is “Cultural Climate Change.”

The theme focuses on combining culture, art and technology in surprising ways. “We will see world-class culture in the middle of wild nature. Snow, ice, ice holes, saunas, light and darkness, as well as four seasons are the stages of the cultural programme”, Programme Director Samu Forsblom stated in a press release. The programme will include around 500 projects.

Community effort

Oulu2026 director Piia Rantala-Korhonen mentioned being “beyond happy” about the victory. Oulu’s mayor Päivi Laajala said that the preparations for Oulu2026 would continue right away. “I also want to thank our competitors Tampere and Savonlinna for fair and good competition”, Laajala added.

Not only the city of Oulu can prepare itself for a memorable year as the European Capital of Culture, but 32 Northern Finnish municipalities and cities join the programme as well. Forsblom promised that there would be plenty of room for “big international productions, as well as for small village parties” within the programme. “The programme is built together with the citizens.” Check out the video below to learn more about Oulu2026 programme. (Text continues below tweet)

More to come

Each year two European nations get the opportunity to invite interested cities to apply for becoming a European Capital of Culture. Finland and Slovakia were selected as hosts for 2026. The Slovakian shortlist consists of three towns: Nitra, Trenčín and Žilina. The winner will be announced in December 2021, a European Commission press release stated. Check out the video below to learn more about the concept of the European Capital of Culture contest.

Source: European Commission and Oulu2026

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