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Brussels, 21 December 2010

Turku and Tallinn: European Capitals of Culture in 2011

Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia) are to be the European Capitals of Culture in 2011. The programme will officially begin on 1 January in Tallinn and 15 January in Turku, and many events will take place throughout the year.

Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "I am delighted with the festivities announced for the opening ceremonies in Turku and Tallinn. The European Capital of Culture event is one of the European Union's most prestigious culture-related initiatives. It has shown its potential in terms of job creation, urban regeneration and creativity, and its attractiveness at European level. I wish both of these Capitals of Culture every success!"

The opening ceremony in Tallinn will be held on New Year's Eve, with a major public concert and a firework display. Many cultural events have been planned for Tallinn in 2011: a series of exhibitions, concerts and live events will be held throughout the year and, as the city is by the sea, that will be a recurrent theme.

Turku will open its festivities on 15 January with a major open-air show on the river which flows through the city. This ceremony will set the scene for an extensive cultural programme which should set the Finnish city alight throughout 2011.

In autumn 2010 the European Commission awarded the Melina Mercouri Prize (worth 1.5 million euros) to the two 2011 Capitals in recognition of the quality of their preparations.

Many foreign artists have been invited to appear at in Tallinn and Turku and this will add to their success and to the European dimension of the events.

The European Capital of Culture is one of the most high-profile cultural events in Europe. The Capitals are selected on the basis of a cultural programme that must have a European dimension, involve the public, be attractive at the European level and fit into the long-term development of the city.

It is also an excellent opportunity for the cities to change their image, put themselves on the world map, attract more tourists and rethink their development through culture.

The title has a long-term impact, not only in terms of culture but also in social and economic terms, both for the city and for the surrounding region. For example, a study1 has shown that the number of tourists visiting the city for at least one night has increased by 12% on average compared with the year before the city held the title; this figure was as high as 25% for Liverpool in 2008 and Sibiu (Romania) in 2007.

Following Turku and Tallinn in 2011, the future European Capitals of Culture will be Guimarães (Portugal) and Maribor (Slovenia) in 2012, Marseille (France) and Košice (Slovakia) in 2013, Umeå (Sweden) and Riga (Latvia) in 2014, and Mons (Belgium) and Plzeň (Czech Republic) in 2015.

For more information:

1 :

European Cities and Capitals of Culture by Palmer/Rae Associates:

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