Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council among 20 across the UK vying to become City of Culture 2025
The number of expressions of interest has been described as at an all-time high.
Regions and groups of towns have been encouraged to apply in this competition, with a number stepping forward from across the UK including the city of Bangor and Northwest Wales, the borderlands region, County Durham, Lancashire and the Tay Cities region.
Grants of £40,000 are available to successful longlisted places for the first time to support their applications.
The winner, which will be announced next year, will take the baton from Coventry, which is the 2021 UK City of Culture, and be at the centre of the UK’s cultural spotlight in 2025.
Londonderry and Hull are among the previous holders of the title.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described it as a “fantastic opportunity”.
“This record number of applications from all four corners of the country is testament to the huge success of City of Culture in generating investment, creating jobs and boosting local pride,” he said.
“This prestigious prize creates a fantastic opportunity for towns and cities to build back better from the pandemic and I wish all bidders the very best of luck.”
Sir Phil Redmond, chairman of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, added: “From Derry-Londonderry to Hull and Coventry it has been a difficult and rewarding challenge to select the next UK City of Culture, and the list of potential candidates for 2025 indicates that life in the immediate future is going to be even more challenging.
“The three previous title holders have demonstrated the transformative and catalytic effect culture can bring about, even within places that have been ultimately unsuccessful but have gone on to develop collaborative and sustainable partnerships.
“The list for 2025 also demonstrates the breadth of ambition, aspiration and innovation that exists from coast to coast and nation to nation across the UK and I am looking forward to that challenge of immersing myself once again in the UK’s rich seam of creativity.”
The 20 bidders will be reduced to an initial long list of bidders in the coming weeks and then cut down further to a final shortlist in early 2022. The winner will be announced in May 2022.