You are here

European Capital of Culture 2024 will be from Estonia

In 2024, the title of the European Capital of Culture will be awarded to three cities: Tartu, a city from Estonia; Bodø, a city from an EFTA/EEA country, candidate country or potential candidate for EU membership; and one Austrian city, Bad Ischl.  



About the history


The European Capitals of Culture tradition got its start in 1983, when the proposal was made by the former actress Melina Mercouri, who was subsequently the Greek Minister of Culture. The idea of the undertaking was to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the cultural richness and diversity of this part of the world.

The idea became a reality as an intergovernmental initiative in 1985 and was initially called the European City of Culture. As the popularity of the project grew, in 1999, it became a European Union initiative, the cities were named as the European Capitals of Culture.

Initially, there was only one Capital of Culture, but after the turn of the century, it became customary to select two cities every year. The only city that has held the title more than once is Luxembourg, because there are few cities in the country of the same name. 

Today, the European Capital of Culture initiative is truly a flagship of the European Union. It is probably one of the cultural initiatives that is best known and most valued among the citizens of Europe.

A European Capital of Culture has been selected from Estonia once before – its capital Tallinn in 2011. At the time, the multitude of events included the Youth Song and Dance Celebration called Maa ja Ilm (The wide world begins in a small land). Also, while the city was the capital of culture, the renovation of hangars of the Seaplane Harbour was completed. An Estonian city will again – for the second time – have a chance to be designated as the European Capital of Culture 2024.


The selection process for the European Capital of Culture


The selection of the capital of culture takes place in two stages: the pre-selection and the final selection.

The pre-selection was made on 24 October 2019 and Tartu and Narva were selected. You can read more from "The Expert Panel’s report. Pre-Selection Stage (PDF)". The final selection was made on 28 August 2019 with city visits during 26-27th August. The selection was made by an independent international expert panel, which included two representatives from Estonia.

The assessment of the cities’ applications will be based on six equal categories:

  • contribution to a long-term strategy;
  • the European dimension;
  • cultural and artistic content;
  • capacity to deliver;
  • outreach;
  • management.

Announcement of the European Capital of Culture


According to the rules, the final decision regarding the 2024 Capital of Culture has to be made by the end of 2019. The expert panel will compile the relevant report, which will include the proposal for naming the European Capital of Culture and awarding it the Melina Mercouri Prize, which includes a monetary award of €1.5 million. 

After the city is named the European Capital of Culture and before the start of the title year, monitoring of the Capital of Culture preparations will be conducted. The progress of the preparations will be evaluated and recommendations regarding any further steps that should be taken are made. 

If everything progresses smoothly, the European Commission will make the official decision to recommend that the European Commission award the Capital of Culture the Melina Mercouri Prize, which will be paid in March of 2024.


Press releases



Kalmar Kurs
Head of Foreign Relations Department

Phone +372 628 2323


Last updated: 17 August 2020