We choose to run for the European Capital of Culture 2026, not because we believe we have already tackled all the existing challenges, but because we see Žilina’s enormous potential. The candidacy for the European Capital of Culture 2026 is an opportunity for our city and the surrounding region to deal with the complex legacy of the past and define its future together with its citizens and its creative forces.

For the generation who bears the experience of the transition of 1989, “culture as a driving force of change” is not a mere statement but rather an expression of a generational formative experience. 20 years ago, hardly anyone would have expected Žilina could once aspire to be a European Capital of Culture; extremism was on the rise, while local democracy was in deep crisis. Yet, since then, Žilina’s story has been one of creative resistance and the rise of civil society in addressing those issues. A momentum of change has been created in Žilina and we need to use this opportunity to propel ourselves to the future.

We chose Window of Opportunities as the project’s tagline, a credo that precisely captures and communicates our current state of mind. Originally a NASA phrase indicating the spatial and temporal limitations for the launch of a rocket, it eschews alibistic fatalism in favour of the idea of a certain momentum which must be produced and sustained. We like it, because it emphasises a proactive, constructive, problem-solving approach, and because it encourages grand visions and pursuit of long-term objectives.

Window of Opportunities also refers to a critical period in child development when specific vital neurological functions must be acquired. In this sense, the concept captures the position we are in and our aim to offer multiple opportunities to citizens and local communities for participation, learning and growth.

Programme of Žilina
Beskids 2026

Our concept of the programme involves a plan for positive change, whereas we believe the following three main elements need to be addressed in order for it to be implemented successfully: ≈ nature, » productivity, and oo discourse.


An opportunity for reconnection with rural areas and reinterpretation of traditional culture
An opportunity to limit the impact of climate change and protect biodiversity
An opportunity to promote the concept of a sustainable city, with access to water and vegetation
An opportunity to promote outdoor culture and high quality of life


An opportunity to work together to create liveable future cities
An opportunity for intersectoral innovations
An opportunity to recognize the importance of the cultural sector and the working conditions of those who work in it
An opportunity for a sustainable/circular material culture and production


An opportunity to build inclusive communities
An opportunity for European mobility and intercultural dialogue
An opportunity to build a culture of democracy
An opportunity to understand our past

Manifesto – the set of values and principles behind our bid

artistic quality and independence
sustainable cultural ecosystem
art production
intersectoral and interdisciplinary innovations
transparency and accountability
collaborative approach
citizen participation
creative bureaucracy
deconcentration and on-line shift
outdoor cultures