What is a European Capital of Culture?


European Capitals of Culture are one of the most recognised EU projects.


They began in 1985 on the initiative of the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri. The idea is to put specific regions at the heart of cultural life across Europe. Through culture and art, European Capitals of Culture improve the quality of life in these regions and strengthen their sense of community.


“Citizens can take part in the year-long activities and play a larger role in their region’s development and cultural expression.

Being a European Capital of Culture brings fresh life to these regions, boosting their cultural, social and economic development.”


Source: European Commission




The artistic vision for our cultural programme is that it will be authentically of Galway, while being presented through a European lens and supported by partners and collaborators in Europe and beyond.

The concept for Galway 2020 is Making Waves. It is about creating new ways of thinking, new ways of working, new conversations and new partnerships aimed at ensuring a more creative Galway.





We will broker relationships, inspire, support and mentor over the next year to ensure the highest ambition for our programme. We want to focus on issues that are not exclusively Galway’s, but are part of the broader discussion on European concerns.

The Galway 2020 themes Migration, Landscape and Language resonate with this very strongly.



celebrating the diversity of cultures in Europe on the backdrop of Galway City and County;



at the Western Edge of Europe, Galway is collaborating with its European partners to challenge and engage citizens in 2020 across its rural and the marine landscape;



promoting the variety of languages spoken in Europe and in Galway, language will feature in projects and encourage the acceptance and use of many languages.



Our programme currently engages with 23 countries in the EU and four pan-European organisations that are active in different countries across Europe. Overall, there are 75 European links within the cultural programme.


A European Capital of Culture is not a festival.

It is a celebration of our islands, our beautiful county, our vibrant city, our language, our people, and a celebration of  the collective imagination of Galway.


– a year-long Celebration of Rain, Street Spectacle, Exhibitions, Artist Broadcasts, Readings, Classical Concerts, Dance, Schools Projects, Children’s Events, Musical Performances, Digital Encounters, Live Art, Theatre, Dance, Circus, Funambulism, Public Art, Heritage Projects, Food Projects, Sports Events and Sports Projects, Projects through Irish and Projects that Celebrate the Irish Language, Artist Residencies, Readings, Local Library Events, Events in Unexpected Places, Conferences, Music by Young People and Folklore.




Expect moments and great memories that will last a lifetime.