Wroclaw 2016

European Capitals of Culture in 2016: Wroclaw and San Sebastian

Wroclaw in Poland and San Sebastian in Spain have been given the title of European Capital of Culture for 2016. Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, is attending the official launches of the cultural programmes on 17 January in Wroclaw and on 23 January in San Sebastian. 

"Being a European Capital of Culture helps cities create a sense of community and brings long-lasting benefits to their citizens and their economies. I wish Wroclaw and San Sebastian every success as they showcase their cultural programmes in the coming year," said Navracsics. 

Wroclaw 2016 kicks off on the weekend of 15-17 January with almost 100 cultural concerts, exhibitions, shows and other events. On 17 January more than 2,000 artists, singers and musicians take part in a parade setting out from four corners of Wroclaw, stopping along the way to recount the city’s rich history and converging on the central Rynek marketplace for the grand finale. Drawing on the theme of Spaces of Beauty, the programme includes the International Jazz Day, the Singing Europe Festival and the International Theatre Olympics. Wroclaw is also UNESCO World Book Capital throughout 2016 and holds a special edition of the European Literature Night. 

San Sebastian launches its programme with five days of events alongside the city's grand fiesta, the Tamborrada, starting on 20 January with the official opening ceremony taking place on 23 January. The Donostia-San Sebastian 2016 programme Cultura para la convivencia (Culture for co-existence) promotes better ways of living together through art and culture, and these values are reflected in three lighthouses: the Lighthouse of Life (the individual and society), the Lighthouse of Peace (respect and co-existence), and the Lighthouse of Voices (diversity and mutual understanding). Programme highlights include the Peace Treaty, an exhibition of how peace and violence have been depicted in Europe, and Travelling Embassies, a project that will bring artists of different nationalities to several European cities by ship, bus and bicycle to create, share and spread works of art which express linguistic diversity, among others. 

The European Capital of Culture is one of the most high-profile cultural initiatives in Europe and it celebrated its 30th birthday last year. The cities are selected based on a cultural programme with a strong European dimension, on the active involvement of the city's inhabitants and on how the initiative could contribute to the long-term development of the city. This prestigious title has long-term impact, not only on a city's cultural output but also in social and economic terms as studies have shown that the number of tourists visiting a European Capital of Culture city for at least one night increased on average by 12% during the year. 

Following Wroclaw and San Sebastian in 2016, the forthcoming European Capitals of Culture are Aarhus (Denmark) and Pafos (Cyprus) in 2017, Valletta (Malta) and Leeuwarden (Netherlands) in 2018 and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) and Matera (Italy) in 2019.