Dublin could become Europe’s city of culture for second time

Ireland and Croatia to have European Capital of Culture designation in 2020

The last time Dublin was chosen as European Capital of Culture was 1991

Dublin city is to consider a bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2020, almost 30 years after it last held the title.

The European Parliament last week confirmed the proposal to choose Ireland and Croatia as the countries which could each designate a city as the capital of culture for 2020.

The chairwoman of Dublin City Council's arts and culture committee, Fianna Fáil's Mary Fitzpatrick, will this week meet with city manager Owen Keegan and other senior council officials to discuss the potential bid.

However, Dublin already faces competition from Galway, whose city council has already begun preparing its bid for the title. Two months before the designation was formally announced, Galway City Council last February began advertising for a "team or consortium" to prepare the city's bid to win the title for 2020.


Ms Fitzpatrick said there was the experience and expertise in Dublin to sustain a world-class programme of cultural events over a full year.

" It is an opportunity for the promotion of Dublin as a significant cultural and arts destination on a European scale; it gives our city a chance to shine to a European and global audience."

She acknowledged Dublin faced " stiff competition" but said it had a number of factors in its favour, including the success of recent international events such as the tall ships festival, and the timing of the capital of culture year, which fell during the decade of commemorations which had many Dublin-focused events.

“I want my home town to win this prestigious title and to do that we will need to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to produce the best bid. Our bid will require a clear vision, project management skills, a strong calendar of events, community consultation and significant financial input.

“The last time Dublin was chosen as the European Capital of Culture was 1991; it is time that we put our best foot forward in our bid to win this title again for 2020.”

A call for applications from prospective host cities will be published shortly by Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan.

Cultural experts
A panel of "cultural experts" will assess the proposals of cities for the title according to criteria specified by the European Union. Ireland will select a city based on the recommendation of the panel by mid-2016.

The city of culture initiative was set up in 1985, and has been held in more than 40 cities since. In 2005 the title was changed to “capital” of culture.

It is a separate project from the national city of culture initiative which sees one city in Ireland designated a city of culture every two years. That title is currently held by Limerick.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times