The European capitals of culture are one of the most popular and recognized EU projects. In 2016, the Polish city of Wroclaw and the Spanish city of San Sebastian will mark the 31st year of its existence. The cultural program will officially begin in mid-January in Wroclaw in the presence of Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, as well as in San Sebastian. Mr. Navracsics commented that “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 programs in the coming year.”
The cultural program in Wroclaw will include more than 100 cultural events such as concerts, exhibitions and shows. The main event will take place on Sunday, 17 January, and it will see parades setting out from four corners of Wroclaw and converging on the central Rynek marketplace for the grand finale featuring more than 2,000 artists, singers and musicians. The motto of Wroclaw 2016 is ‘Spaces of Beauty’ based on the ideas of metamorphosis and diversity, drawing on the city’s unique history of transformation.
San Sebastian’s official opening ceremony will take place on Saturday 23 January, in the Victoria Eugenia Theatre, followed by a concert. The Donostia-San Sebastian 2016 program “Cultura para la convivencia” (Culture for co-existence) promotes better ways of living together through art and culture. Three lighthouses will reflect the values underpinning the program: 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). The European Cities of Culture were initiated in 1985 by the then Greek Minister of Culture, Melina Mercouri. The cities are selected on the basis of a cultural program that must have a strong European dimension, foster the participation and active involvement of the city’s inhabitants and contribute to the long-term development of the city.