Bruges’ College of Mayor and Aldermen has decided the city will compete for the title of European Capital of Culture in 2030. This year marks exactly twenty years since Bruges became European Capital of Culture (in 2002). Every year, since 2002, two European cities are designated Cultural Capitals. It has already been decided that in 2030 it will be Belgium’s turn again, along with Cyprus.
Luxembourg has already received the title twice (1995 and 2007), and Brussels, which was already European Capital of Culture in 2000, is now applying again for 2030. Seven Belgian have already applied for the title in 2030: Ghent, Brussels, Leuven, Liege, Kortrijk, Ostend and Turnhout.
We proved in 2002 that Bruges was a brilliant Capital of Culture of Europe.Dirk de Fauw, Mayor of Bruges
What Bruges has in mind is the economic return that such a story entails. The figures from 2002 show that commerce and hospitality also reap the benefits. The title also provides a huge boost for the cultural sector.
2030 was not chosen at random for Belgium; it is closely linked to Belgium’s 200th anniversary (1830), so symbolically the candidacy of Brussels, as federal and European capital, in that year may be very significant.
Other Flemish central cities such as Ghent and Leuven also submitted their candidacy and are not without chance. The choice of an international jury of European cultural experts will weigh heavily in the final decision. The originality of the candidacy as well as the content of the candidate file can be decisive. That is why the City of Bruges, together with its cultural partners, want to work hard on a strong and original dossier.
We want to take up this great challenge with our cultural partners.Dirk de Fauw, Mayor of Bruges
Bruges has already invested a great deal in cultural infrastructure in recent years. The city council has also continued to build on the cultural momentum that the 2002 European Year brought with it.
The specific and original aspect of Bruges’ candidacy could therefore be precisely that Bruges is going to offer the existing and sometimes centuries-old infrastructure as a stage where various countries and artists can then give their own interpretation. The 2020 city monitor shows that no less than 85.6% of Bruges’ inhabitants are very satisfied with the cultural infrastructure. Bruges is a city already visited by eight million people every year.
In 2025, an international panel of independent experts will assess all European Capital of Culture applications after a pre-selection. as reported by Belga news agency. A shortlist of candidate cities will be compiled thereafter, which will then submit their final applications. One city per country will then be nominated for the title. In Belgium, the national advisory committee will make that recommendation in 2026. The various candidate cities will spend the following four years preparing for the title year.
To date, the following Belgian cities have already been European Capitals of Culture:
- Antwerp in 1993
- Brussels in 2000
- Bruges in 2002
- Mons in 2015