The European Year of Cultural Heritage aims to make cultural heritage accessible to all by removing social, cultural and physical barriers. The year also aims to engage local communities and help people to rediscover how much of our heritage is shared. Putting our common values, shared history and heritage in the spotlight can contribute to and reinforce a sense of belonging in Europe, and ultimately bring us closer together.

For whom?

General public, local communities, older people and hard-to-reach groups including people with special needs and those at risk of social exclusion.


The initiative has 4 main components:

Component 1: Special “European Year of Cultural Heritage” edition of the European Heritage Days

Every year, over 30 million people of all ages enjoy access to rarely opened sites and unique events across Europe as part of the European Heritage Days (EHDs). In 2018, this popular initiative will help to reinforce the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Three new activities are being implemented as from 2018:

  • A “Call for European Heritage Stories” to collect testimonies of how communities understand the European dimension of their local heritage;
  • A “European Heritage Makers Week” to inspire children and youth to explore their surroundings, discover the European dimension of their local heritage and share their stories;
  • “Funding trans-border projects”, to enable the realisation of small-scale cross-border projects.


• April 2018
Launch of the Call for European Heritage Stories

• April-May 2018
Launch of the competition for the European Heritage Makers Week

• August -October 2018
European Heritage Days

• 17 October 2018
Award Ceremony for the European Heritage Stories, Strasbourg, France

• November 2018
A visit of the winners of the European Heritage Makers Week to Strasbourg, France

Component 2: Special “European Year of Cultural Heritage” editions of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award and the European Heritage Label

The EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards recognises best practices in the conservation, management, research, education and communication of Europe’s shared heritage.

The 2018 award ceremony took place in June during a high-level European Heritage Summit in Berlin, organised by Europa Nostra, the German Cultural Heritage Committee and the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage.

The European Heritage Label (EHL) celebrates heritage sites that symbolise European ideals, values, history and integration. In 2018, the European Commission organised a touring exhibition of European Heritage Label sites and a high-level award ceremony for nine new labelled sites.


• 26 March 2018
European Heritage Label award ceremony in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
• April 2018
European Heritage Label yearly gathering in Brussels, Belgium
• 22 June 2018
EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award Ceremony and adoption of the Berlin Call to Action "Cultural heritage for the future of Europe" in Berlin, Germany
• 22 June 2018
Local award ceremonies of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage in laureate sites

Component 3: Sharing heritage, digitally

3 projects are encouraging sharing heritage through digital means:

  • Story Map: Interactive map-based interface for cultural heritage by the European Commission - Joint Research Centre (JRC) allowing users to explore cultural heritage initiatives in their surroundings, such as the European capitals of Culture, the European Heritage Label sites and the sites having been awarded EU cultural prizes.
  • Connecting European Citizens through their shared culture with Europeana Migration & Europeana 1914-1918 Collections. Two types of collections and events are being held in 2018: Europeana Migration and Europeana 1914-1918 on the centenary of the end of World War I.
  • Europa Nostra’s #Ode2Joy Challenge. Participants are invited to create a video of their interpretation of Beethoven & Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ and post their performance on social media.


• 15-17 March 2018
Launch of Europeana Migration Collection Days
• 9 May 2018
Europe Day – contributions to the #Ode2Joy challenge were livestreamed
• June 2018
Launch of the cultural heritage Story Map

Component 4: Removing barriers and increasing access to cultural heritage

 Physical, social and geographical barriers hindering participation to cultural heritage are being tackled through two different projects:

  • The European Union Access City Award (ACA) will recognise cities that have done outstanding work in making their cultural heritage accessible.
  • The WeAre#EuropeForCulture project aims to engage both younger and older Europeans (aged 13-30 and 55+) who are hard to reach and do not already participate in cultural heritage activities.
  • In addition, the EuropeanaTech 2018 conference allowed discussion on how to embrace and communicate technologies that allow us to share our cultural heritage digitally.


• 15-16 May 2018
EuropeanaTech Conference, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
• Second semester 2018
Launch of the WeAre#EuropeForCulture project
• 3-4 December 2018
European Day of Persons with Disabilities Conference, Brussels, Belgium
• 4 December 2018
EU Access City Award ceremony in Brussels, Belgium


  • European Commission services dealing with culture, education, social inclusion and employment
  • The Joint Research Centre (JRC)
  • Council of Europe, partner for the European Heritage Days
  • Europeana
  • European Heritage Label sites
  • Europa Nostra and winners of the EU Prize for cultural heritage
  • European Disability Forum

Find out more

Find out more

Want to give your feedback about this page?