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 was that it would 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 was Making Waves. It was about creating new ways of thinking, new ways of working, new conversations and new partnerships aimed at ensuring a more creative Galway.





We wantrf 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 resonated with this very strongly.

European Capital of Culture From Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media 

In 2020, Galway, on behalf of Ireland, is hosting the European Capital of Culture, one of the biggest cultural initiatives in the world. Galway’s designation as European Capital of Culture 2020, is a great honour for Ireland and is also a wonderful opportunity to strengthen and promote our culture nationally and internationally.

The government’s support of €15 million represents the largest single contribution to the overall delivery of Galway 2020 as the European Capital of Culture.

The cultural programme for Galway 2020 planned a year-long celebration of street spectacle, exhibitions, readings, classical concerts, dance, schools’ projects, children’s events, the Irish language, musical performances, digital encounters, live art, theatre, circus, funambulism, public art, heritage, food, sports, sheep, folklore, our islands, our people, imagination and creativity.

Owing to COVID-19 approval was given for the delivery of a revised cultural programme for Galway 2020 to ensure that projects from the original winning bid by Galway can take place. The delivery of the programme will take account of changed circumstances and are subject to public health guidance. The programme will now involve a combination of physical performance in compliance with prevailing restrictions and online delivery. Galway 2020 will make further announcements on the revised programme in late summer 2020.