Exploring European Capital Cities for 2021

European Capitals for Sport, Innovation, Green, Youth and Culture

Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

Knowing all the capital cities of European countries is a fun game for geography fans. But away from the geographical capital cities, there are many other capital cities across Europe each year.

In 2021, there will be a European Capital of Sport, a European Green Capital, a European Capital of Innovation as well as a European Youth Capital.

Each of these programmes highlight a city in Europe, focusing on their sporting, environmental, innovation and youth activities and culture.

Let's take a look at where will be highlighted in 2021.

European Capital of Sport 2021: Lisbon

The European Capital of Sport is awarded each year to a city with more than 500,000 people. In 2021, Lisbon in Portugal is the European Capital of Sport.

This title is awarded - along with awards for European City, Community, Town and Region of Sport - to recognise communities' commitment to and advances in sport and wellbeing facilities.

EXPLORE MORE: The history and heritage of Sport Lisboa e Benfica

European Green Capital 2021: Lahti

The European Green Capital Award promotes and reward urban communities commitment and innovation to resolve'environmental challenges.

Lahti, in Finland, is the European Green Capital for 2021, ahead of two finalists both in France: Lille and Strasbourg.

European Capital of Innovation 2020: Leuven

This prize recognises and advances innovation in European cities. However, it is not awarded until later in the year. The reigning European Capital of Innovation was award in September 2020 to Leuven in Belgium.

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European Youth Capital 2021: Klaipėda

The European Youth Capital is awarded to empower young people, boost youth participation and strengthen European identity through social, cultural and political projects.

Klaipėda - the third city of Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea coast - is the European Youth Capital for 2021.

European Capital of Culture?

Each year, the European Capital of Culture celebrates a city’s heritage and its contribution to European culture. It is marked with exhibitions, artistic programmes, theatre shows, dance, opera, music and other projects specific to individual cities.

EXPLORE MORE: European Capital of Culture: celebrating a continent's culture

Initially three cities were chosen as European Capital of Culture for 2021: Eleusis in Greece, Novi Sad in Serbia and Timisoara in Romania.

However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Capitals of Culture - Galway in Ireland and Rijeka in Croatia - have been given an extension into 2021 with the other cities' years postponed to 2022 and 2023.

EXPLORE MORE: Galway and Rijeka - European Capitals of Culture 2020