European City of CultureLiverpool was named, in May 2003, as European Capital of Culture for 2008.
For some years the European Union has designated a city (or collection of cities) as the European City of Culture for that year. The year offers the chance for that city to showcase its cultural life and cultural development. This system is now being subjected to some change in that, in future, there will only be one city featured in that year; the city will be known as the "European Capital of Culture." To avoid the fierce competition to win the accolade each EU member nation will be given the opportunity to "host" the capital in turn. Britain's first year under this new system will be 2008.
The U.K. government had shortlisted the cities of: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastl/Gateshead and Oxford. The European Capital of Culture for 2008 was chosen by U.K. culture secretary Tessa Jowell in the neutral city of London, after which she travelled up to Liverpool to join in their celebrations.
In the past a number of European cities have used the City of Culture year to completely transform their cultural base and, in doing so, the way in which it is viewed internationally. Successful cities of culture include: Glasgow, Helsinki and Rotterdam.