Oulu has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture 2026

MDI congratulates Oulu and thanks them for the shared journey experienced together! An international panel of experts chose Oulu as Finland’s representative for the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2026. Finnish cities Tampere and Savonlinna were also involved in the final Finnish competition. This is the European Union’s best-known and most significant cultural programme. Oulu’s prize-winning theme  is ‘cultural climate change’ with its application conveying a picture of the original culture, roughness and creativity of the north. Oulu has planned a diverse programme for its ECoC year that takes into account not only the broad range of its cultural offerings but also the strong involvement of children, food culture and the utilisation of technology and artificial intelligence in creating an interactive culture. The project involves 32 municipalities, cultural actors and other actors in various fields. Several hundred productions and events are planned during the year but some will begin sooner.

– We started the application in time, and we did it together with our stakeholders. We were genuinely committed to a joint project across the whole field. Oulu2026 is a collaboration between Oulu’s residents, the region’s cultural providers and our European partners that unites science, art, culture, nature, the countryside and our urban areas, says Piia Rantala-Korhonen, Oulu2026 project manager.

Through their projects, the former Finnish Capitals of Culture Helsinki (2000) and Turku (2011) succeeded in renewing their urban culture, increasing the vitality and international visibility of their regions. Oulu’s goal is also to raise the profile of art and culture to a new level in urban and regional development, as well as to create new jobs boosting the creative economy’s position in the pursuit of the region’s broader socioeconomic development goals.