Past Forward
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Das "Kulturhauätstädtla" war ein temporärer Ort für kulturelle Begegnungen auf dem Richard
© Michael Lyra // Kulturhauptstädtla auf dem Richard-Wagner-Platz, 2019

Nürnberg is applying for the title of 2025 European Capital of Culture. We want to host the most important cultural project to take place in Germany over the next few years. Using the means of art and culture, we want to find answers to urgent problems of our time, further grow Nürnberg and the region, and highlight the diversity and commonalities of cultural heritage in Europe. The aim is better understanding and the togetherness of all people in Europe.

This title has been awarded annually by the European Union since 1985. In 2025, it’s Germany’s turn, alongside Slovenia, to be the host country and several cities are presently in the running.

The first bid book was submitted in September 2019.
Download bid book 1

What is the Capital of Culture?

The Capital of Culture is an EU project. It’s about Europe, about visualizing our diversity and what we have in common. It’s also about celebrating a year packed full of art and culture – and lastingly strengthening the city and the metropolitan region. International, relevant, exciting, innovative – Nürnberg wants to send a strong signal for Europe.

As the European Capital of Culture, Nürnberg will grow to be a city that taps into new target groups and stands for sustainable and respectful cultural tourism.


Jugendliche stehen auf dem Kl
© Michael Lyra // Installation „UNN (United Nations Nuremberg)“ auf dem Klarissenplatz von Bettina Pousttchi, 2018

Why Capital of Culture?

Using the means of art and culture, we want to find answers to urgent problems of our time, further grow Nürnberg and the region for better understanding and the togetherness of all people in Europe.

It’s not about what Nürnberg already has, but what the city and the European Metropolitan Region of Nürnberg want to develop – especially with the means of art and culture. We want a future that is social, ecological, sustainable, and culturally diverse. We want a culture of togetherness, humanity, and justice for more participation and equal opportunities, more inclusion, better integration, and participation for everyone.

With the people in the city and the region, Nürnberg is developing a new idea of city and Europe – a space for humanity and community, a space for experimentation, a laboratory for culture and the arts.


Keeping the past in mind and eyes on the future, N2025 is applying to be European Capital of Culture 2025 under the motto PAST FORWARD.

By applying to be the European Capital of Culture, Nürnberg demands courage to change from itself and Europe. The city’s self-image and outside image, which is largely fed by the past and has some clichéd features, must grapple with today’s reality and urban society. This will bring the diversity and internationality of Nürnberg to the fore and force us out of some of our beloved comfort zones.

Nürnberg needs to self-critically, but at times also relentlessly reflect on the past and to trust in new opportunities. Nürnberg needs new and many-voiced narratives. Nürnberg needs a dialogue within the framework of European and global partnerships to generate ideas that fuel our creativity. This is the perspective that brought forth the motto of the Nürnberg bid, which runs through all parts of the programme: PAST FORWARD.

The Three Themes


Historical amnesia is fatal, especially in times when democratic values are becoming more brittle. Similarly, we mustn’t put the past in the museums or idealise it. Both actions obscure our view of the present and the future. We’ll embrace our historical heritage and focus on the injustices of today: Racism, discrimination, and marginalisation are part of everyday reality. Humans should be at the centre of attention: togetherness, participation, equal opportunities, human rights.


Behaim’s globe, Dürer’s celestial maps, the oldest art academy, Nürnberg the toy city: Working, learning, and playing shaped the city and region for centuries and they still do. We ask how we can lead meaningful, productive, and good lives in future and face technological, digital and cultural challenges. A city of visionaries, researchers, and artists should use its DNA to become a creative laboratory for work, experimentation, play, and art.


Today, Nürnberg is an ultra-diverse city with great social disparities and challenges. Fears are being exploited throughout Europe, isolationism and secessionism are on the rise – many of Europe’s edges are crumbling. Nürnberg declares togetherness its goal and asks how community can be secured and promoted fairly in the future. The focus is on social interaction, transculturalism, and sustainability. The city belongs to all of us – let’s shape it together!


Europe is central to the N2025 project. We want to negotiate European issues with the population in the city and region and make Nürnberg a hub in the European cultural scene through international partnerships. How, keeping the lessons of history in mind, can we succeed in shaping a common future? With PAST FORWARD we seek peaceful coexistence in an ultra-diverse city like Nürnberg. It’s important that we defend liberal democracy and open societies in a common Europe.

Die Lichtinstallation
© Markus Denzlinger // Light Installation EUROPA „auf AEG“, 2018

Local Lab Europe

The political idea of ​​Europe as worded in the 1957 Treaty of Rome is that of an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe.” It was also a response to the experiences of war and displacement from European history. This history was largely and disastrously shaped from Nürnberg. No doubt the ideal of ​​a Europe growing together is in crisis. Burgeoning nationalism, the strife in the EU over immigration and disease control during the coronavirus crisis are just three of many indications of this. With its Capital of Culture bid, Nürnberg is focusing on a European and also a global dimension. The city accepts its historical responsibility in and for Europe and sees the idea of ​​Europe in the twenty-first century as a challenge that must be negotiated across all of society. Nürnberg will become a local European laboratory dealing with the three guiding themes of PAST FORWARD with a European perspective.

Die Lichtinstallation
© Rainer Viertlböck // Light Installation EUROPA „auf AEG“, 2018

International partnerships

The focus of the international partnerships is particularly on Slovenia, the country that will join Germany with a European Capital of Culture in 2025. Nürnberg has already initiated several projects with Ljubljana and is in contact with other Slovenian cities. Collaborations have already been launched with Galway 2020 (Ireland) and Tartu 2024 (Estonia) as part of the SONGLINES project.

Joint projects have also been initiated with Oulu 2026 (Finland), Kaunas 2022 (Lithuania), and Eleusis 2021 (Greece). In addition, project N2025 looks beyond European borders; various projects with partners in Africa and Asia are being planned.

Metropolitan Region

Nürnberg is applying for the title of Capital of Culture together with the European Metropolitan Region of Nürnberg. The Metropolitan Region was founded in 2005 as a voluntary association of regional actors to improve collaboration across administrative boundaries. It encompasses 23 rural and 11 urban districts, covers an area of 21,800 square kilometres and has a population of 3.5 million people. It is a “microcosm of Europe,” a deliberately chosen association with a disparate layout, which must find and reinvent itself in its goals again and again. The Capital of Culture year is a huge opportunity to develop the Nürnberg Metropolitan Region towards a new coexistence of the city and the region. With the inclusion of the region, N2025 will fuel the joint discussions, developments, and actions and thus also test models for all of Europe to replace parochialism with synergies.

Who is involved?

So far, 40 municipalities in the European Metropolitan Region of Nürnberg have joined the Capital of Culture bid by submitting a letter of intent:

Stadt Altdorf • Stadt Amberg • Stadt Ansbach • Stadt Bad Windsheim • Stadt Baiersdorf • Landkreis Bamberg • Kreisfreie Stadt Bamberg • Landkreis Bayreuth • Stadt Bayreuth • Gemeinde Burgthann • Stadt Coburg • Stadt Erlangen • Stadt Feuchtwangen • Landkreis Forchheim • Kreisfreie Stadt Fürth • Stadt Haßfurt • Stadt Herzogenaurach • Landkreis Hof • Kreisfreie Stadt Hof • Landkreis Kronach • Stadt Langenzenn • Markt Schnaittach • Bezirk Mittelfranken • Stadt Neumarkt • Stadt Neustadt bei Coburg • Landkreis Neustadt an der Waldnaab • Landkreis Nürnberger Land • Stadt Oberasbach • Landkreis Roth • Stadt Roth • Stadt Röthenbach an der Pegnitz • Kreisfreie Stadt Schwabach • Stadt Sonneberg • Stadt Stein • Stadt Tirschenreuth • Landkreis Tirschenreuth • Stadt Waldsassen • Stadt Weiden • Stadt Weißenburg • Landkreis Wunsiedel

All cities and rural districts in the Metropolitan Region have until 15 June 2020 to join the Capital of Culture bid. This will make them part of the regional Capital of Culture programme and therefore a location for one of the largest European cultural projects of the decade.

Puppe aus dem Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg
© Johanna Pichlbauer // Deutsches Spielzeugmuseum, Sonneberg

Regionale Projects

Since 2017, hundreds of people and cultural institutions in the region have participated in the development of a joint Capital of Culture programme. From Hof to Treuchtlingen, six themed working groups worked on projects for the final bid book between September 2019 and April 2020. The groups were coordinated from different cities in the Metropolitan Region and worked on the following topics:

  • Games
  • Cultural heritage and digitization
  • Culture of remembrance and human rights
  • Diversity and participation
  • Cultural tourism
  • Crafts and industrial culture



The adoption of a cultural strategy is one of the prerequisites for submitting a bid for European Capital of Culture. The City of Nürnberg developed a strategy in 2017, which was approved by the city council on 31 January 2018. More than 500 cultural actors from the city and region were involved in its development. The strategy describes the goals of Nürnberg’s cultural urban development for the years until 2030. It can be viewd here.

N2025 pursues goals that are closely related to Nürnberg’s cultural strategy. The five strategic objectives are:

  1. Opening and openness: Overcoming visible and invisible borders and exclusion mechanisms
  2. Participation and equal opportunities: As defined as a field of action in the cultural strategy, the bid will also establish a main field of action for this. Togetherness takes the place of exclusion.
  3. Outreach participation: The central acting principle of the Nürnberg bid is direct collaboration with the diverse communities to enable their empowerment. The aim is to visualize the various cultural practices.
  4. Sustainability and cultural sustainability: Nürnberg’s bid is aligned to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  5. International and European dimensions: The bid opens our eyes to the world. Widespread self-reflexivity is replaced by necessary outside stimuli.

In addition, we aim to significantly strengthen the entire cultural sector and the cultural and creative industries and more firmly anchor sustainable management in the city and region. The bid focuses on mutual learning from and with cultural institutions from all over Europe. It also aims to develop new cultural infrastructure such as the Kongresshalle and the House of Games. Moreover, in various cities new centres for the cultural and creative industries are to be created, which will be planned and implemented together with partners from the metropolitan region and from all over Europe. By 2026, Nürnberg is expected to develop into a European cultural hotspot. In order for the Capital of Culture project to achieve its goals, a monitoring and evaluation process will be started as early as in 2021 to continuously monitor all projects, review the milestone plans, and assess goal achievement.


The Nürnberg Capital of Culture bid process is based on an extensive participation process. Since 2017, many people of Nürnberg from the fields of art, culture, tourism, creative industries have contributed their ideas, wishes, and suggestions to the process, thus shaping it significantly. The Three Themes of the Capital of Culture bid arose from a number of workshops in the city’s individual culture shops, online and offline participation formats, personal discussions, conferences, and not least from the “capital cultural questions.” This ultimately resulted in the PAST FORWARD claim, which represents the DNA of the city’s society.

We want to adhere to these principles of consistently integrating Nürnberg residents in the bid and build on them for the future. Participation formats such as the N2025 Open Call will be expanded and continued until 2026.

In addition, we will discover new formats for participatory cultural promotion over the course of the Capital of Culture bid. We are gathering inspiration from other major European cities such as Madrid and Bologna.

Eine Redaktionssitzung des Ginger-Magazins, ein englischsprachiges Magazin, dass im Rahmen unseres Projektaufrufs
© Marcus Puschmann www.streetsofnuremberg.com // N2025 Open Call Projekt Ginger Magazin

The bid process has reached many people in Nürnberg in recent years, but the response does not reflect the image of a city society in which 46 percent of all people have an international background. Our strategy is therefore based on co-creation projects that give people the opportunity to express their wishes and have a participatory say in cultural life in the city. The goal is to bring the city’s communities together, to remove barriers to participation, and to redefine public space and its interaction with cultural actors. This is how audience development becomes community development. An example of this was Kulturhauptstädtla by the N.ORT collective in 2019.

Grafische Darstellung zum Projektaufruf für Schulen
© Philip Stock

Schools and education

A sustainable capital of culture bid is only possible if children and young people in particular are given the opportunity to participate in cultural processes. Going forward, this will also apply to decision-making processes. Children and teens should act as ambassadors. In this context, we continue to work closely with institutional and independent educational facilities based here. For example, sustainable cultural partnerships can be established between schools and cultural institutions, through which the participants can influence the programming of the local cultural offerings. In addition, projects from the programme with an international approach are constantly being developed especially for children and young people.


21 September 2020: Submission of the second bid book

23 October 2020: Jury visits Nürnberg

26 - 28 October 2020: Second presentation to the jury

28 October 2020: Decision

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