The city of Žilina will be preparing to join the call for a European Capital of Culture in 2026. After the first round of consultations with the cultural community and key partners in the city, the intention to prepare and submit an application was approved by Žilina city deputies on Tuesday, February 18. In addition, they approved an extraordinary contribution of EUR 100,000 to the Malá Fatra Regional Tourism Organization to ensure the processes related to the preparation of the application and support activities aimed at involving residents, experts and international partners.
Since the candidacy for the title of European Capital of Culture 2026, the city of Žilina has promised to support and develop cultural and social institutions, including obtaining the necessary investments from the state budget and the European Union. “Apart from the opportunities to make the city visible, but also to strengthen its identity, the candidacy will provide us with a space in the broader context to deal through a cultural program with challenging topics of the past and present,” said Mayor Peter Fiabáne.
He added that high expectations are also linked to the development of tourism, to support the expansion of public spaces and the quality of life in the city, to the development of creative business, relations at city, regional, European, intercultural, academic and private environments.
“The process of preparing for the candidacy for the European Capital of Culture can help us residents in Žilina to find answers to questions such as ‘Who are we?’, ‘Where are we going?’, ‘Who would we like to be?’. And especially to confront the acquired knowledge with the European context,“ remarked the chairman of the commission of culture, tourism and local development at the Municipal Council in Žilina Ján Ničík.
In 2026, the title of European Capital of Culture will be held by one Slovak and one Finnish city. If all conditions are met, the title holder will also receive a Melina Mercouri prize of EUR 1.5 million, which will be awarded by the European Commission by the end of March 2026 at the latest.
The Ministry of Culture published a call for applications for the European Capital of Culture in the Slovak Republic on December 17, 2019. Slovak cities with the ambition to apply for the title can apply no later than October 31, 2020, and the city must prepare a new long-term cultural strategy.