York is top of the culture league.

It has been ranked as the UK’s most culturally vibrant city by a new index published by the European Commission.

Our city is ranked ahead of Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh on one of the indices based on its cultural venues, facilities, participation and attractiveness, among other criteria.

One of the indices showing York in third place. Table: Cultural and creative cities monitor

The Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor “is designed to help national, regional and municipal policy makers identify local strengths and opportunities”, and uses 29 indicators to benchmark the attributes of 190 European cities.

About York, it states:

  • Over the past decade, York has championed investment in its cultural institutions, initiating several iconic activities such as the Illuminating York Festival and the revival of York Mystery Plays.

    Through these initiatives, the city of York has emphasised the value of culture in the city’s hospitality, education and marketing sectors.

    Media arts are the engine of York’s continued development.

    In 2014, as recognition of York’s commitment to combine technology and art to breathe new life into city’s heritage, York became the first UK city to be designated a UNESCO City of Media Arts.

Better than Bruges

The temptation of Christ from the York Mystery Plays
Cities are assessed on ‘cultural vibrancy’, ‘creative economy’, which captures how a city’s cultural and creative sectors contribute to its economy, and ‘enabling environment’, which identifies assets that help a city attract creative talent and stimulate cultural engagement.

York is listed first in the UK for cultural vibrancy, in the medium city category.

The latest rankings put York 7th in the list of cities in the EU with 100,000 to 250,000 residents, above cities such as Bruges, Granada and Maastricht for cultural vibrancy.

Cllr Darryl Smalley, Liberal Democrat executive member for culture, leisure and communities, said the council was championing York’s cultural offer, with investment in libraries, the Community Stadium and the creative industries.


He said:

  • York is home to so many extraordinary and creative people, all of whom make this city such a vibrant place for culture and creativity, and I would like to give a massive thank you to all the residents and organisations across the city who contributed to this wonderful achievement.

Reyahn King, CEO of York Museums Trust and chair of York Cultural Leaders Group, told Arts Professional that cultural and heritage organisations were working together to develop a cultural strategy for the city.

She said: “There is a determination to engage our residents in culture and use culture to create a sense of place and wellbeing.”

But the news comes amid some disquiet in the sector. The team behind the Crescent Community Venue are calling on the council to back a York Music Venue Network.

This follows the closure of a number of live music venues and the threat to the Crescent from a residential development.