The chairwoman of the international jury, Paulina Florjanowicz, announced the jury's decision on Friday, December 10, shortly after 4 p.m. They agreed that the title of European Capital of Culture 2026 was awarded to our city - Trenčín - with the slogan Cultivation Curiosity. This happened after almost two years of intensive preparation and two selection rounds. In the final, our rivals were Nitra and Žilina.
With all our heart and most of all, we want to say: "THANK YOU!"
When speaking about broad support it often sounds cliché, something that has to be said to make it look good. Our Curiosity Growing project would not be successful or feasible if we created it ourselves. Let's take a look at what actually happened in the Trenčín region.
The whole region has come together
Trenčín ran for the European Capital of Culture 2026 not only as a city, but as the entire Trenčín region with a connection to the Zlín region. In order for this vision of a cultural region to have a solid foundation, all key actors had to be involved.
In 2020, the deputies of the Trenčín City Council supported the candidacy by approving the budget for the preparation of the application, co-financing and project support. In 2021, they approved the establishment of the Creative Institute Trenčín (CIT) and an increase in the city's financial participation to EUR 5.4 million. In our daily work, we have been patiently supported by employees of the City Hall and other external partners of the city.
The Self-Governing Region of Trenčín together with the Chair, Mr. Jaroslav Baška, and the deputies of the Regional Council, have also been with us on our way to the title. They agreed to EUR 5 million to support the project and co-establish CIT with the city of Trenčín.
We have connected all the cities in the region, they stand behind us. We are looking forward to crossing the borders thanks to the involvement of the Zlín Region. The Ministry of Culture has set aside EUR40 million from the European funds to support investment projects in the ECoC. We have the support of the Ministry of Defense in connection with the programme in the House of Army (ODA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - as developing relations with Europe and the world will be crucial for the project. We cooperate with the Alexander Dubček University in Trenčín, which will be involved in many projects and monitoring of activities.
Large employers as well as small companies and operations have expressed their support. Some may be sponsors, others will play an important role in involving their employees, co-creating projects, another will be service providers for visitors to the city and region, and people who come here for work and housing.
Thank you all for giving us confidence in the functionality and sustainability of the European Capital of Culture 2026 project in our region!
Implementation is based on the involvement of locals
We do not imagine the European Capital of Culture as a big circus that comes to the city and, after the "season", packs its program and moves its caravans elsewhere. Thanks to the organizations in Trenčín and the region, we have confidence that the program can be implemented and moreover, that its legacy will be alive even after 2026.
We told the jury that our region has huge potential - we have filmmakers, creative entrepreneurs, visual and performative artists, literature experts, a strong independent music scene, musicians, folklore, and experienced cultural organizers. Many natives see winning the title as an impulse to return to the region and work here.
We have organizations with a strong impact on different groups of the population. Informal education, raising the awareness of environmental issues as well as of mental health is not a novelty for people in Trenčín. We have cultural institutions and schools, many of which have already been involved or inspired by candidacy pilot projects.
Active individuals live here. Some have become Ambassadors of Culture and spread information in their communities about the benefits of European Capital of Culture. Some have volunteered, others have become cultural organizers or members of the Trenčín 2026 team.
Thank you all for coming up with great ideas, planning and working with us, asking important questions and keeping your fingers crossed for Trenčín. We are looking forward to continuing this journey together!
Europe in Trenčín and Trenčín on the map of Europe
During the preparation of the project, Trenčín entered a completely different dimension - the European dimension. Its presence in the program was crucial for the jury and required more than our local knowledge and experience. Therefore, we approached experts from the region, from Slovakia, from Europe and the world. In addition, 221 artists and curators from 19 countries have enriched our program, which we intensively polished with the Program Board.
We consulted everything. From how to build the program on a solid foundation, through the activities we did, the organization of the jury visit, our speeches at the presentation to the preparation for the jury questions. Thanks to the experts, we focused on what was important to do in order to get as close to victory as possible.
The European Capitals of Culture - the current, the past and those who are still running, were a great support in the candidacy process. They answered all our questions and shared their experiences. Institutions, city networks and organizations have helped us see the new face of the city and kept our fingers crossed.
Thank you for your advice, ideas and feedback. All this not only brought us closer to victory, it is a part of it!
Nitra, Žilina and the jury
We also want to thank Nitra and Žilina: you were strong opponents who kept us on our toes. We are sorry that only one can win. We are grateful that we were on this journey together and we look forward to cooperating with you!
Our thanks also go to the jury. We can imagine it must have been difficult to decide between three strong projects. Thank you for giving us the confidence and chance to realize our vision for Trenčín!
And finally: A man who has a dream
The Mayor of Trenčín, Richard Rybníček, is a man who had a dream about Trenčín - the European Capital of Culture in 2026. We perceive him as part of our team. He gave us a freedom in preparing the vision, the whole program and the identity of the project. This strong support allowed us to do many things. For example, the pilot projects Garage or Saturday on Sunday, in which we showed the jury how we imagine the fulfillment of the ECoC project and how it can change human stories. Thank you, Mayor of Trenčín - European Capital of Culture 2026!
We are very happy, moved and tired. We hoped, we believed, and now it is a reality. Many thanks to all of you who have dedicated your time, knowledge and experience in the candidacy process. We are in this together and we continue!
We are looking forward to this adventure and further cooperation with all of you!