3 Irish cities shortlisted for the title of European Capital of Culture 2020

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Galway, Limerick, and Waterford for the Three Sisters have been shortlisted today in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2020. The recommendation was done by a panel of independent experts evaluating applications from 4 competing Irish cities at the outcome of a 2-day meeting in Dublin.

Once this recommendation has been confirmed by Ireland, the shortlisted cities have until mid-2016 to complete their applications. The panel will then meet again in Dublin during the second half of 2016 to recommend which Irish city will be the European Capital of Culture 2020.

Each of the short-listed cities, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford for the Three Sisters has a campaign site where you can find out about their bids and take part in the campaign. 

In 2020, Ireland will host the European Capital of Culture for the third time, after Dublin in 1991 and Cork in 2005. European Capitals of Culture have grown into one of the most ambitious cultural projects in Europe and one of the best known – and most appreciated – activities of the EU.

Being shortlisted for the title can result in significant cultural, economic and social benefits for the cities concerned, provided that their bid is part of a longer-term culture-led development strategy.

Ireland and Croatia are the EU countries hosting the event in 2020. The pre-selection round in Croatia took place in May 2015 and four cities were shortlisted (Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula and Rijeka). The final selection in Croatia will take place in March 2016.

Following Mons (Belgium) and Plzen (Czech Republic) this year, Wrocław (Poland) and Donostia-San Sebastián (Spain) will be European Capitals of Culture in 2016, Aarhus (Denmark) and Paphos (Cyprus) in 2017, Leeuwarden (Netherlands) and Valletta (Malta) in 2018, and Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) in 2019.


Ireland invited applications from interested cities in December 2014. Four Irish cities applied: Dublin, Galway, Limerick and the Three Sisters (Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford, under the leadership of the city of Waterford).

The applications were examined by a panel of 10 independent experts appointed by the EU:

  • Appointed by the European Commission: Steve Green (United Kingdom), who has an extensive experience of international cultural relations and the role of culture and languages in society with EUNIC (European Network of National Cultural Institutes) and the British Council; Jordi Pardo (Spain), CEO of the Pau Casals Foundation and expert in strategic planning and urban renewal through culture and tourism and Suzana Žilič Fišer (Slovenia), professor and head of media communications department at the University of Maribor and director general of Maribor – European Capital of Culture 2012
  • Appointed by the Council: Ulrich Fuchs (Germany), deputy artistic director and programme director of Linz, European Capital of Culture 2009, and Marseille-Provence, European Capital of Culture 2013; Aiva Rozenberga Latvia), programme director of Rīga, European Capital of Culture 2014 and Pauli Sivonen (Finland), director of Serlachius Museum
  • Appointed by the European Parliament: Sylvia Amann (Austria), who is specialised in urban, regional and rural development, culture and the creative economy; Cristina Farinha (Portugal), expert in the development of creative industries and national cultural strategies and Agnieszka Wlazeł (Poland), expert in audience development and former CEO and artistic director of art festivals
  • Appointed by the Committee of the Regions: Anton Rombouts (Netherlands), mayor of the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch and former Chairman of the Nederlands Dans Theatre

In 2015, the European Capitals of Culture celebrate 30 years of success and achievements.