Entertainment & Arts

UK cities bid to be European Capital of Culture - despite Brexit

Danish chorus girls wait for Denmark's Queen Margrethe to arrive at the Music House in Aarhus, Denmark, on January 21, 2017 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Danish chorus girls launched Aarhus as a European Capital of Culture in 2017

Five British locations have bid to be named European Capital of Culture in 2023 - despite the fact the UK will have left the European Union by then.

Dundee, Leeds, Nottingham and Milton Keynes are in the race, while Belfast and Londonderry have made a joint bid.

The UK government said it was "part of our plan for a dynamic, outward-looking and global Britain" post-Brexit.

But it has warned bidders that the contest "may be subject to the outcome of those exit negotiations".

Three non-EU cities have previously held the title - Istanbul in 2010, Stavanger in Norway in 2008, and Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2000.

Liverpool was the last British city to be a European Capital of Culture, in 2008, following Glasgow in 1990.

It's separate from the UK City of Culture title, which is currently held by Hull.

The winning bidder for the 2023 European title will be formally announced in 2019.

The bidding locations:

Belfast & Derry

Claims to fame: Sir Kenneth Branagh, Van Morrison, Liam Neeson and CS Lewis are all from Belfast. Derry (pictured) was the first UK City of Culture in 2013.

Plans include: "A year-long programme of events that will showcase both cities and the region resulting in huge benefits." That's as specific as it gets so far.


Image copyright Alan Richardson

Claim to fame: Dundee will have the first V&A outside London when the £80m V&A Museum of Design opens next year. Home of Dennis the Menace.

Plans include: "We want a gran in Stobswell to learn circus skills from a Hungarian teenager. We want to go beyond the city limits - literally and metaphorically."


Image copyright Simon Dewhurst

Claim to fame: Alan Bennett is its most famous literary son. Henry Moore and Damien Hirst went to art college there.

Plans include: A full-sized lighthouse on Leeds' South Bank; actors aged over 60 performing on buses; a festival entirely created, curated and produced by under-15s.

Milton Keynes

Image copyright Getty Images

Claim to fame: It's at a bit of a disadvantage, being just 50 years old. Lots of music megastars have played the Milton Keynes Bowl. Channel 5's weather presenter Clare Nasir is from there.

Plans include: MK is making a virtue of its relative youth, promising "a different story to tell about British culture, not one steeped in Victoriana, ancient monuments, high art and tradition."


Image copyright Nottingham 2023

Claim to fame: Actress Vicky McClure and musical provocateurs Sleaford Mods are backing the bid. Nottingham has just become a Unesco City of Literature.

Plans include: The city "will use its Robin Hood spirit to empower people to take culture back into their own hands".

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