UK City of Culture 2025 shortlist revealed

  • Bradford, County Durham, Southampton and County Wrexham Borough selected
  • The winner will be announced by the Culture Secretary in May

Bradford, County Durham, Southampton and Wrexham County Borough are today revealed as the four areas shortlisted to be UK City of Culture 2025.

The four locations were approved by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries based on independent advice given to the government by a panel of experts led by Sir Phil Redmond.

The finalists were narrowed down from a record twenty initial bids to an outstanding eight longlist nominations, which also included Cornwall, Derby, Stirling and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

All applicants were asked to explain how they would use culture to develop and strengthen their region, as well as how they would use culture to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vast benefits of winning the prestigious title include attracting millions of pounds more investment to help spur regeneration, a year in the cultural spotlight with hundreds of events encouraging sustainable arts participation and tourism growth local.

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:

The UK City of Culture competition shows the important role culture can play in improving our towns and rural communities – bringing investment, great events, thousands of tourists and opportunities for people of all ages and all horizons.

We have seen a huge positive impact in this year’s host city, Coventry, with millions of pounds invested and thousands of visitors.

It’s been a banner year for deals, which is great to see. Congratulations to the four shortlisted places – I wish them luck.

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 saw over £172m invested in funding for music concerts, public art exhibitions, the UK’s first permanent immersive digital art gallery, a new children’s playground in the center of town, the new Telegraph Hotel and improvements to public transport.

More than a third of event tickets (43%) issued to Coventry residents as part of Culture City went to people financially strained or facing adversity and a third of the cultural program was co -created with local communities. An additional £500 million has been invested in the regeneration of the city since it was confirmed as a UK City of Culture.

Over £150m of public and private sector investment went into 2013 winner Derry-Londonderry, while 2017 winner Hull saw a 10% increase in visitors over the of his mandate.

Sir Phil Redmond, Chairman of the Culture City Expert Advisory Board, said:

Culture can act as a catalyst for community engagement, civic cohesion and a driver of economic and social change, as seen previously not only in Derry-Londonderry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry ( 2021), but all those other places that have gone on the road to developing their own cultural strategy. The simple act of participating proved to be a catalyst in itself. We had a big long list to choose from, which made shortlisting difficult, but I now look forward to visiting each of the shortlisted locations with the panel to witness the catalytic effect of culture in action.

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said:

It’s such an exciting time for the shortlisted cities and we wish them all the best for the next stage. Holding the title in Coventry has been a privilege and has already had a huge impact on the city and its citizens. We can’t wait to see what’s next for those who have used the bidding process to truly consider the value of culture – all of which will have inspired the next generation of artists, organizations, funders and of supporters. The expert advisory group, chaired by Sir Phil Redmond, will now visit the four shortlisted venues before making their final recommendation in May. The winner will be announced this year in Coventry.

The competition, run by DCMS in conjunction with the Devolved Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, brings culture to the heart of communities and gives people the opportunity to get involved in all that arts have to offer.

The eight shortlisted bidders received, for the first time, a grant of £40,000 to bolster their applications which were reviewed by the Expert Advisory Board against published criteria.

Unsuccessful areas will each receive detailed feedback on their bids. Ministers and officials will also discuss with them how best to maintain momentum and achieve their ambitions in the future.


Notes to editors:

  • The Expert Advisory Group includes representatives from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and brings together a wide range of experience.
  • To learn more about each shortlisted offer, visit the cities’ websites: Bradford, County Durham, Southampton, Wrexham.
  • Read more information about Coventry, city of culture in the UK 2021.
  • For the first time this year, groups of cities have been able to come together and apply to have the title awarded to their region – broadening the scope of regions across the country that could benefit.

Full list of offers:

  • City of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
  • Bangor City and North West Wales
  • The Borderlands region, comprising Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria and Carlisle City
  • Bradford
  • Conwy County
  • Cornwall
  • Derby
  • County Durham
  • Lancashire
  • Medway
  • City of Newport
  • Powys
  • Southampton
  • Stirling
  • The region of Tay towns
  • Torbay and Exeter
  • Wakefield neighborhood
  • City of Wolverhampton
  • Borough of County Wrexham
  • Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk

James C. Tibbs