Northern Ireland

NI councils make bid for European Capital of Culture title

Part of the lumiere festival during Derry's 2013 UK City of Culture celebrations
Image caption Part of the lumiere festival during Derry's 2013 UK City of Culture celebrations

Two Northern Ireland councils are launching their joint bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023 on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, the BBC revealed preparations for a joint bid were being made by Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Belfast is one of the three NI destinations tabling a joint bid

UK cities have been European Capital of Culture twice - Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008.

Belfast previously failed in a bid for the 2008 title.

Image caption The Hands Across the Divide monument in Londonderry

Council officials from Belfast and Derry City and Strabane District have said a joint attempt would be a "stronger proposition" and "help share resources".

Leeds, Dundee and Milton Keynes have already declared their interest in the 2023 Capital of Culture title, which is shared by two European cities each year.

Image copyright Culture Company
Image caption 600 people took part in the first-ever Walled City Tattoo in August 2013

Cities have to submit initial bids to Westminster's Department for Culture, Media and Sport by October 2017, with the UK winner announced in 2018.

'Economic boost'

As well as prestige the title has given an economic boost to previous UK holders, which hosted a year-long programme of cultural events.

Image copyright Simon Fallaha
Image caption A performer at the All-Ireland fleadh in Londonderry in 2013

Belfast's Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister and Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Maolíosa McHugh will attend an event in Londonderry's Guildhall to mark the launch of the bid.

The chosen UK city will share the title with a city in Hungary in 2023.

Image caption A performer at Belfast Culture Night in September
Image caption The Peace Bridge across the River Foyle, opened in 2011

In 2017 the position is being held by Aarhus in Denmark and Paphos in Cyprus, while Galway in the Republic of Ireland will hold the title in 2020.

It is understood that Britain's vote to leave the EU should not affect a UK city becoming European Capital of Culture.

Image caption Almost £10m was spent on improvements to Londonderry's Guildhall
Image caption Belfast's Titanic recently came out on top of a poll of world travel attractions

Three non-EU cities have held the title in the past - Istanbul in 2010, Stavanger in Norway in 2008 and Reykjavik in Iceland in 2000.

The European Capital of Culture scheme is separate from the UK City of Culture, a title which was held by Londonderry in 2013 and is held this year by Hull.

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