European Capital of Culture 2026: Oulu is the champion

3 June 2021

Oulu’s joy and pride erupted yesterday following the announcement that they will be the European Capital of Culture for 2026, representing Finland after Helsinki in 2000 and Turku in 2011.

“On behalf of the city and myself I want to warmly thank the Oulu2026 Bidding Team for this significant achievement and the four years of preparatory work,” said mayor Päivi Laajala. “Oulu is truly happy about this victory. The preparations for the Cultural Capital year continue immediately. I also want to thank our competitors Tampere and Savonlinna for a fair and good competition.”

Oulu will celebrate its victory with its citizens in August at the Varjo-Piknik summer party, an opportunity to share the honour as the city’s bid has relied on everyone’s contributions.

One of the objectives of Oulu2026 is to bring culture into everyone’s lives and create new opportunities for people to participate in arts and culture.

And when they say everyone, they mean everyone! Oulu’s bid includes 32 Northern Finnish municipalities and cities in the region that share a common history and future – the widest project area for a European Capital of Culture yet.

Oulu enjoys its proximity to nature, which has likely influenced the main theme: Cultural Climate Change. This includes social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability.

Oulu’s adventure started in 2017, and it has benefited from coaching by experts and peers as part of the European Culture for Cities and Regions project . As a long-term and active member of the Eurocities Culture Forum, Oulu also had a chance to exchange experiences with previous winners, learning from their successes and challenges.

The European Capital of Culture has become a coveted title, and it is one of the EU’s most successful cultural measures. It recognises culture as a driver of cities’ development and promotes the diversity of cultures in Europe.

Oulu is looking forward to taking advantage of the long-lasting positive changes in culture, tourism, cooperation and the urban landscape that this title promises.

Read more here.


Wilma Dragonetti Eurocities Writer