Europe to get first Capital of Culture north of the Arctic Circle

For the first time, in 2024, a European Capital of Culture will be found north of the Arctic Circle. Each year, the European Commission celebrates some of the continent’s most amazing places with the designation, which spurs cultural events and international attention throughout the year.

A row of red homes along the coast with a purple sunset in the background.
The Port of Bodø © RUBEN M RAMOS/Shutterstock

While former capitals of culture are found around Europe, never before has there been such a northerly selection as the city of Bodø, Norway. 

A mountain juts out of beauitful blue water.
Landegode island at the municipality of Bodø in Nordland county © alxpin / Getty Images

For international travellers, Bodø might be best known to those who travel along the Kystriksveien Coastal Route, or jump off at the northern terminus of Norway's railway system, or who stop by on their way to the Lofoten Islands.

But with the upcoming designation, Bodø wants to prove that its location doesn’t mean it needs to be disconnected from the rest of Europe. In its application to the commission, Bodø notes that it wants to show itself “as a true region in Europe and the world, not a distant periphery”. Like many northern regions, they note that it suffers from “rural exodus”, as younger people move to big cities – and are hoping the role as capital of culture can help to revitalize the area. 

giant graffiti in Bodo city center (c) Artur WidakNurPhoto via Getty Images.jpg
Giant graffiti in Bodø city center © Artur Widak / NurPhoto via Getty Images

There will be two other capitals of culture in 2024 – the Estonian city of Tartu, a historic city and a popular university town – and another that will be determined later. The 2019 capitals of culture are the Italian city of Matera and Plovdiv in Bulgaria. Next year’s capitals are Galway, Ireland and Rijeka, Croatia.