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Cēsis on its way to becoming European Capital of Culture 2027

On May 23, 2019, Cēsis County Council conceptually supported Cēsis’ participation in the competition “European Capital of Culture 2027” (ECoC).

With this decision, Cēsis has officially started on its way to becoming the European Capital of Culture. This is the second time the city is running for this title. In 2008, Cēsis alongside Rīga and Liepāja competed to become European Capital of Culture 2014; Rīga claimed the title then. When Cēsis applied to the competition for the first time, it was the smallest town ever to have tried running to become the European Capital of Culture. 

Atis Egliņš-Eglītis, The Head of Administration of Cēsis Municipality and the head of the ECoC work group emphasizes the benefits Cēsis will gain from taking part in this competition: “European Capital of Culture is a great opportunity for municipalities that can be useful for developing their cultural sector and economy simultaneously. This title would serve as a useful tool for the public diplomacy of the city and for building its international image. This is crucial for attracting the attention of culture professionals, as well as additional funds for culture events and the infrastructure of culture institutions. Furthermore, European experience confirms that the status of the European Capital of Culture ensures a lasting positive effect on regional development, which means that securing this title would benefit not only Cēsis but the whole Vidzeme region.”

In the process of developing the application for the competition, Cēsis County Council has defined the following main goals:

  • development of Cēsis cultural space and strengthening regional and international co-operation in culture and other interdisciplinary fields;
  • attracting culture events of national and international scale;
  • promoting economic development of culture and creative industries;
  • strengthening the capacity of the cultural sector through the implementation of European co-operation projects;
  • promoting and developing culture tourism;
  • promoting the city’s visibility and improving its culture and tourism infrastructure.


Since 2008, when Cēsis first applied for the status of European Capital of Culture, cultural life in the county has become increasingly richer and more vibrant. Local culture infrastructure has been improved with the addition of concert hall “Cēsis” which has been able to provide world class concerts, theatre shows and cinema programmes for more than five years and has attracted thousands of visitors not only from Latvia but also neighbouring countries. Cēsis Art Festival has grown, an internationally recognized festival “Cello Cēsis” has been established and has become the only festival in Latvia that has received Europe’s quality stamp for remarkable arts festivals “EFFE Label”. Large investments have been made in cultural heritage to conserve and restore Cēsis Castle Complex and St.John’s Church. 

The work group of the application for ECoC has decided on the following pillars:


How can we help nature through culture? How can we keep in touch and re-establish our connection with nature? How can we shape our environment into a joint cultural space?


How can culture help us become even better educated? How can culture inspire for new success? How can culture help us gain global knowledge? 


How can culture help with promoting conversations on democracy? Is culture itself democracy? How to talk about democracy through culture projects?


At the moment, our health system is under enormous stress and alarm. What might be the main health concerns and challenges in 2027? What is our health culture like? And what about the health of culture? These are some of the questions we will try to answer through our application for European Capital of Culture.

In 2015, European Commission ranked Cēsis as an example of good practice among 70 other European culture metropoles, such as Amsterdam, Lisbon, Vienna, and Barcelona. In 2017, in a competition organized by “United Cities and Local Governments” Culture Council Cēsis received international recognition as an example of good practice among 83 culture cities. 

The title of the European Capital of Culture 2027 will be awarded to one city in Latvia and one city in Portugal