In 2026, the Slovak Republic will host the title of European Capital of Culture (ECOC). This prestigious title will be shared in 2026 by two cities from two member states of the European Union (EU), i.e. one Slovak city and one Finnish city. The European Capitals of Culture initiative is the EU's best known flagship cultural initiative and the most appreciated one among EU citizens. At the same time, it is one of the EU's longest-running activities.
ECOC title holdership provides the city with a unique chance, which can have positive cultural, social and economic impact. Previous European Capitals of Culture have revealed that hosting a title can be a great opportunity to regenerate urban centers, bring vibrancy, creativity, visitors and international recognition to the city. Numerous title holders experienced not merely a successful year of the title, but also unprecedented benefits and positive legacy associated with the title. Since founding the "European Capital of Culture" action in 1985, its scope has grown and currently it is one of the most prestigious high-profile European cultural events. Throughout its whole operation, this initiative has contributed to the sustainable development of cities and their surroundings. Well-prepared ECOCs have affected the cultural, social and economic situation of these cities in the long run. As a result, ECOCs are now considered laboratories for strategic investment in culture at local and regional level.
The aim of the initiative is to accentuate the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe, and to celebrate common European cultural aspects, thus contributing to the rapprochement of European nations and improving mutual understanding. The action increases European citizens' sense of belonging to a common cultural area and strengthens the contribution of culture to urban development at economic, social and urban levels. Last but not least, it increases the international popularity of cities through culture, and strengthens the capacity of the cultural sector and its links with other sectors. The holder of the ECOC title in the Slovak Republic for 2026 will be the second European Capital of Culture in Slovakia. Košice was the first Slovak city to host this prestigious title in 2013 with a winning Interface project. When organizing the ECOC 2026 the Slovak Republic will proceed in accordance with the valid legal framework of the ECOC action for the years 2020 to 2033 (see below). Along with the Slovak Republic, Finland also participates in the ECOC 2026. This means that in addition to one Slovak city, also one of Finnish candidate cities is expected to be the European Capital of Culture for 2026.