Žilina submitted an application for the European Capital of Culture title in 2026

The future cultural and artistic program together with an outline of the city’s long-term cultural strategy or planned investments in cultural infrastructure is described in Žilina’s application for the European Capital of Culture for 2026. On December 15, Žilina submitted the application at the Ministry of Culture, becoming the official candidate city for the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture.

The application highlights the role of culture as a driver of positive change, as well as a tool through which it is possible to look at the challenges that the city faces in other areas, e.g. in public space, in transport, in the effects of the climate crisis, or in the transition to a creative and green local economy. The application emphasizes the story and potential of Žilina rooted in the beauty of the surrounding nature, a strong industrial tradition and the uniqueness of the stories defining a common identity. These areas form the main program pillars, around which more than 130 cultural and artistic projects are created. The 60-page bid book also includes several investment plans of the city and the involved region, proposed in order to improve the public space and contribute to the sustainability of the change that the ECoC will entail.

“Žilina’s candidacy is the embodiment of the ambition to develop the city through the support of the cultural and creative ecosystem, as well as the ambition to deepen strategic partnerships in the region, with cross-border cities or throughout Europe. Simultaneously with the preparatory process of candidacy, the city of Žilina also started working on its new cultural strategy Creative Vision Žilina 2035, which means that strategic projects within the ECoC itself exceed the 2026 year,“ said the mayor of Žilina Peter Fiabáne.

According to him, great emphasis in the preparation of the project was placed on the concept of the application not being created behind closed doors in a narrow circle of several people, but to be based on the real needs of residents and cultural institutions in the city. “Key state, regional, municipal and independent cultural institutions, artists, cultural workers, but also residents were involved contributing ideas for future projects. The visual form of the application, together with the hand-made packaging from local recycled materials, was created by graphic designers from the ALTELIER team,” said Fiabáne.

“The project team worked closely with representatives of the Žilina Self-Governing Region. It participated in the prepared SMART strategy of culture, as well as by including joint investment plans in the ECoC project. I believe that thanks to cooperation in key areas, our city has a chance to succeed and obtain the title that will start the cultural, social and economic development not only of the city, but also of the entire Žilina region. It is a challenge, but I believe that Žilina will gain a strong mandate in this duel of cities, which will make it easier for it to travel to a modern European city and make the Žilina region an appealing destination attracting creative people and visitors from Slovakia and Europe. Fingers crossed,” said Erika Jurinová, chairwoman of the Žilina Self-Governing Region.

These days, the project team is preparing for the presentation of the application to the international jury which will take place in early February. All Slovak candidate cities will have the opportunity to present their concept to a jury composed of 12 experts from different EU countries. Subsequently, the cities advancing to the 2nd round of the competition will be announced. If the city of Žilina achieves to be shortlisted, it will have the opportunity to elaborate its application in more detail by August 2021 and carry out various activities to intensify the involvement of local communities or cross-border partners.

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