Derry-Belfast bid to be European Capital of Culture launched

The joint bid by Belfast and Derry & Strabane Councils to secure the European Capital of Culture title for 2023 was endorsed today.'¨The First Citizen of both cities boarded the Belfast to Derry 212 bus to officially encourage people to have their say and get behind the bid.

Wednesday, 5th July 2017, 5:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:24 am
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Nuala McAllister and Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh pictured at the launch of the joint bid for the two cities to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023 with John Kelpie. Chief Executive Derry City and Strabane District Coumcil, Donal Durkan, Director of Development, Belfast City Council ane dancers Kai Umetsu and Treasa Sweeney. Picture Martin McKeown. 05.07.17

Earlier in the day, the Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister welcomed Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Councillor Maolíosa McHugh to Belfast City Hall, before travelling to Derry for the launch event in the Guildhall.

The bid team will begin engaging with the public over the coming weeks and months seeking views and opinions and finding out what the general public want to see from European Capital of Culture status.

The deadline for submission of the first joint bid document is October 27, 2017.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister said securing European Capital of Culture status would be a major coup for both cities, bringing not only a diverse programme of arts and cultural events with a strong European dimension, but the opportunity to deliver a range of positive outcomes including strong collaborative working between both cities, strengthening our European links, boosting tourism and growing the economy.

She said: “This joint bid is a fantastic opportunity for us to work together on a project that will benefit everyone. It’s our chance to renew civic pride, put both our cities on the map, showcase and celebrate our cultural excellence, strengthen European connections and act as a catalyst for real change and growth.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh sid input from the public is an essential part of the bid process.

“What we need now is for people in both council areas to get involved by telling us what matters to them and what they would like to see included in the bid. We’ll actively be going out there and speaking with people so that we can build authentic and meaningful themes for our submission. We know there’s a powerful story to be shared and we want everyone to be part of it.”

Earlier this year, Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council announced plans to submit a joint bid for the European Capital of Culture title for 2023.

The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is an annual designation awarded by European Commission to nations inside and outside of the EU. Since it launched in 1985, 56 cities have hosted the title including two in the UK – Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008. Dublin held the title in 1991, Cork in 2005 and Galway will be Capital of Culture in 2020. In 2023 the two countries hosting the title will be UK and Hungary.

Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive of Belfast City Council says collaborative working between the two councils is a key element to the joint bid process.

“Both councils have been working together through a process that will gather the information for the bid document by engaging with our communities.

“We’ll use that information to help us develop a cultural programme with a strong European dimension. We’re delighted to have the two councils working closely together on such an important project that if successful, will bring real benefits for both cities and the wider region.”

John Kelpie, Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council said that the joint bid puts the two cities and the wider region in a very strong position going forward.

“This bid strengthens the collaborative working between the two councils and supports both cities in their roles as regional and sub regional economic and social drivers,” he said. “The timing of this bid is perfect as we gather momentum on the delivery of our Strategic Growth Plans that have identified the importance of culture for social and economic transformation. I have no doubt that this bid will galvanise people to connect with each other and to celebrate our cultural identities across Europe and the world.”

If successful withi its initial bid, a revised bid submission will be submitted and the team will embark on further public engagement, with the final bid to be completed by the summer of 2018 and the winner announced later in 2018.

For more information on the engagement programme go to and or email [email protected]