Towards the European Capital of Culture 2026

Oulu - Towards The European Capital of Culture 2026!

The Light of the North, Oulu, is  bidding for European Capital of Culture 2026. You are more than welcome to join us. Everything is possible!


Oulu2026 Project

The Journey to European Capital of Culture

The City of Oulu will bid for the 2026 European Capital of Culture award after the City council’s decision that was made in accordance with Finland’s 100th Anniversary of Independence celebration year. Various working groups, set up by Mayor Päivi Laajala, are preparing the bid closely together.

The European Capital of Culture selection is made by an EU-appointed expert panel. During the year, another European Capital of Culture will be selected from Slovakia.

The bidding process brings a wide and versatile range of experts in Oulu together from various fields, including the field of art. The bidding affects everyone in Oulu as well as its neighboring municipalities, both now and into the future.

The bid began with workshops in the autumn of 2017 asking children and students how they see Oulu in the year 2026. During the year, various workgroups began mapping partner networks, did planning work and aligned objectives with the urban strategy of the City of Oulu. In 2019, an application will be made and will be sent to the first qualifying round in 2020.


City of Oulu Council Anniversary Decision

Designation of Workgroups
City of Oulu 2026 Strategy finalised
Collection of Programme themes and content

Capital of Culture Application

Decision of the European Capital of Culture

Oulu2026 is successful

The transfer of culture heritage is continued

City of Oulu’s Urban Strategy 2026

The City of Oulu’s new urban strategy preparation started in the autumn of 2017. The City Council decided on the new strategy in February 2018.

The strategy goes by the working name Oulu 2026, the same year the City of Oulu aims for the title of European Capital of Culture.

Get familiar with the strategy here.

A Lively Destination

The City of Oulu is the capital of northern Finland. Oulu is Finland’s 5th largest city according to population. The city’s growth will continue and the city centre area renewed. We aim to develop a centre with encapsulation between comprehensive services and people.

Renewing Oulu

European Capitals of Culture

The European Capitals of Culture (ECoC) are the most visible form of European Union cultural support. The culture capitals have been named since 1985 and are funded by the Creative Europe Programme. The naming emphasizes the diversity of European cultures and enhances cultural exchanges throughout Europe.

Since 2009, it has been decided to appoint two European cities each year as European Capital of Culture. Beginning in 2021 and in addition to the two selected cities, every three years one city from the EU candidate country will be selected. For the selected city, the event is a large-scale project that links its administration, stakeholders, culture field and public and private financiers together. For many cities, it has had long lasting positive effects in culture, tourism, co-operation and urban landscape.

ECoC - European Capitals of Culture


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