Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay have made the shortlist to become the UK's second City of Culture in 2017.
The four are hoping the title could bring major arts events, media attention and economic regeneration.
The contenders were chosen from 11 bidders.
Londonderry is currently the first UK City of Culture. The UK government created the title in an attempt to replicate the success of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Being City of Culture has brought Derry events like the Turner Prize, an outdoor theatrical extravaganza written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce - who worked on the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony - and BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend.
But organisers faced financial difficulties when income from sponsorship and ticket sales failed to live up to expectations. The City of Culture does not receive direct funding from the UK government.
The 2017 venue will be picked in November from the four contenders.
Local stars: Lorraine Kelly, Brian Cox (the actor), The Average White Band.
Cultural landmarks: The V&A is due to open a £45m branch in Dundee in 2015. The Dundee Contemporary Arts gallery and Dundee Rep theatre both have national reputations.
Plans: "Ours is a people's bid showcasing our strengths, combined with a desire to take forward a new momentum to encourage even more exciting developments for the population of the city."
Local stars: Philip Larkin, The Housemartins, Maureen Lipman.
Cultural landmarks: The Ferens Art Gallery broke visitor records with a Da Vinci exhibition last year. The Hull Truck theatre was a national force in the 1970s and 1980s and is starting to get back on track.
Plans: 1,500 events, 25 festivals - including a city-wide flag festival - and 12 artists' residencies, including a composer in residence on the Humber Bridge and a resident choreographer at the KC Stadium.
Local stars: David and Richard Attenborough, Engelbert Humperdinck.
Cultural landmarks: The Curve Theatre opened in 2008 at a cost of cost £61m - more than double the original budget. The University of Leicester will open its new contemporary arts venue in early 2015.
Plans: The bid has a theme of Illuminating Culture, with "new commissions, outdoor spectaculars and festivals, both existing and new" as well as a series of public art commissions.
Swansea Bay (Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Neath and Port Talbot)
Local stars: Dylan Thomas, Catherine Zeta Jones, Russell T Davies.
Cultural landmarks: Swansea's Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is having a £6m facelift. The town of Port Talbot was the stage for the National Theatre Wales' 72-hour production of The Passion starring Michael Sheen in 2011.
Plans: A festival for unsigned musicians, a high-tech history laboratory and a children's pageant of drama, song, dance and design.
Odds: 2/1 (all odds from William Hill)
Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "I want to congratulate the four shortlisted cities who have made it this far, and indeed all 11 cities who put time and great effort into submitting bids.
"The events in Derry-Londonderry over recent weeks highlight just how much of an impact being City of Culture can have.
"It brings together communities, encourages economic growth, and inspires social change and the shortlisted cities should be very proud of the bids they have put together so far."
The cities that missed out were Aberdeen, Chester, East Kent, Hastings and Bexhill on Sea, Plymouth, Portsmouth/Southampton and Southend-on-Sea.