European Capital of Culture 2024

Tartu is the European Capital of Culture 2024 chosen from Estonia. A total of three cities will be awarded the honorary title in 2024. The Norwegian city of Bodø was selected from the European Free Trade Association countries, and the candidate or potential candidates for membership in the European Union. The third is Bad Ischl, Austria, which is also a small city with a population of 14,000 located near Salzburg.

The competition to determine the European Capital of Culture in Estonia was conducted by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with the Association of Estonian Cities. The selection took place in two stages: the pre-selection and final selection.

The competition was announced at the end of 2017. In autumn 2018, the pre-selection was made from all Estonian cities wishing to become the Capital of Culture, and following the decision of an international independent commission of experts, Narva and Tartu remained as candidates for the title of Capital of Culture. Kuressaare had to come to terms with falling out of the competition. An expert commission in Tallinn evaluated the applications of three competing cities.

The Commission visited the cities that reached the finals in August 2019 and announced its decision at a press conference at the Ministry of Culture on August 28th. The results of the final selection are available in the final selection report.

The independent international panel of experts was comprised of 12 members. The European institutions and bodies appointed ten members, three from the European Parliament, three from the Council and three from the European Commission, and one from the Committee of the Regions. The Minister of Culture of the relevant member state nominates two members, and Estonia's representatives on the panel were Anu Kivilo and Mikko Fritze.

See more about Tartu’s preparations here.

Bad Ischl


Capitals of Culture 2021-2025

2021 - Elefsina (Greece), Timisoara (Romania) and Novi Sad (Serbia)

2022 - Kaunas (Lithuania) and Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg)

2023 - Veszprém (Hungary)

2024 - Tartu (Eesti), Bad Ischl (Austria) and Bodø (Norway)

2025 -  Chemnitz (Germany) and Nova Gorica (Slovenia)

About the history

The tradition of the European Capitals of Culture began in 1983 when the idea was proposed by Melina Mercouri, an actress who was later the Greek Minister of Culture. The purpose of the undertaking was to bring Europeans closer together and to affirm the cultural richness and diversity of the continent.

The idea became a reality in 1985 as an intergovernmental venture, which was originally called the European City of Culture. However, the project gained popularity, and in 1999, it became an initiative of the European Union and the cities became European Capitals of Culture.

Initially, there was only one capital of culture. However, after the turn of the century, it generally became customary to choose two cities each year. The only city that has been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture more than once is Luxembourg, since the choice of cities in the country of the same name is quite limited.

Today, the European Capital of Culture initiative has become a flagship of the European Union, and is probably the best known and most valued cultural initiative among the citizens of Europe.

The European Capital of Culture has been chosen from Estonia once before, when the capital Tallinn was selected for 2011. The many events held that year included the Youth Song and Dance Celebration festival “Maa ja ilm” and the opening of the Seaport Harbour maritime museum. The European Capital of Culture will arrive in Estonia for the second time in 2024.


Kalmar Kurs

Head of the Foreign
Relations Department

Last updated: 21.09.2021