Southampton down to the final four to be UK City of Culture 2025

Southampton down to the final four to be UK City of Culture 2025

Late last night (March 18), it was announced that Southampton has been shortlisted to the final four as a candidate for the title of UK City of Culture 2025.

On the shortlist are: Bradford, Durham, Southampton and Wrexham. The winner of the title will be announced in May 2022. 

The final four were whittled down from a record 20 entrants, and Southampton has seen off competition from the likes of Derby, Cornwall and Stirling to reach this stage.

The winning city will take over from Coventry, the 2021 winner of the competition, which uses culture as a tool for social and economic recovery, and is led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Winning the title could see significant investment for Southampton.

 As city of culture, Coventry has seen more than £172m invested in funding cultural events, such as art, music and theatre,  alongside  improvements to public transport.

Claire Whitaker OBE, Director of Southampton UK City of Culture 2025 Bid, said: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many people for the achievement of winning a place on this shortlist. Three years of sustained work and thousands of people supporting us – not just in the communities of Southampton but across the wider Solent region. The bid has brought the city together, embracing the world of creators, children and young people, artists, academics, businesses and civic leaders. This is a moment of celebration for all of us. 

“Southampton is undeniably a great British city. It is the nation’s front door. We’ve built and developed our maritime industry, put sport on the international stage, developed our cultural sector and throughout the years are known as a welcoming City of Sanctuary.

“In Southampton we are uniquely positioned, facing outwards to the world. A world in which collaboration, co-operation and partnership are needed more than ever. 

“The engine of this country’s recovery in a fragile world will be the spirit and dynamism of people. And culture, the way it brings us together in all its diversity, is crucial to how we will build a better future for everyone.”

Shelina Permalloo, Chair, Southampton UK City of Culture 2025 Bid, said: “Winning BBC’s Masterchef changed my life. And opening my own restaurant here in my home town means so much to me, being able to play a real part of a community that I love. But Southampton winning the title of UK City of Culture will change all our lives. This opportunity is full of promise for a wonderful future.”

International music star Craig David MBE, Southampton bid Ambassador, added his congratulations today saying: “I am so proud of our city, the place where I was born and grew up. I owe everything for my inspiration and success to my family and beginnings in Southampton. This golden opportunity must not be wasted. I want the world to know that Southampton is worthy of this title and that I wholeheartedly back the city to realise its dream to be UK City of Culture 2025.”

Lord Parkinson, Minister for Arts, said today: “I’m delighted that Southampton is on the shortlist for UK City of Culture 2025. This has been a tough competition with a record 20 initial applications and eight outstanding longlist candidates, so this accolade is a real tribute to the quality of creativity on display in the city. I look forward to seeing what Southampton’s bid has in store next!”

As part of the bid for Southampton to be UK City of Culture 2025, ambassadors from the local community have been recruited. These include race and diversity consultant Don John, DIY Southampton organiser Kristianne Drake, and founding editor of  In Common, Sally Churchward.

For more information about the bid, visit

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