Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, and Valletta, Malta, will hold the title of European Capital of Culture for one year.
The European Capital of Culture was initiated by the then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri in 1985, and has become one of the most high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe.
The cities are selected on the basis of a cultural programme that must include a strong European dimension, promote the participation and involvement of the city’s inhabitants, and contribute to the long-term development of the city and its surrounding region.
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics said: “The European Capitals of Culture help bring communities together through culture with long-lasting benefits for the respective cities, their citizens and their economies. 2018 will be a special year as it is the European Year of Cultural Heritage, and both Capitals have included many projects promoting cultural heritage in their programmes – contributing to highlighting the role of culture in building a European identity. I wish Leeuwarden and Valletta every success for the coming year.”
The opening celebrations for Valletta will take place 14-20 January and will be attended by Navracsics.
In Leeuwarden, the celebrations will begin on 26 and 27 January, with artistic installations and performances by professional and amateur artists across the city, and museums opening their doors to visitors throughout the Friesland region.
European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will attend Leeuwarden’s official opening ceremony.