Oulu2026 hopes for the cultural climate change


Oulu is bravely on its way to become the European Capital of Culture. The first application was submitted in May of 2020 and the best applicants will be given 9 months to improve their applications. The winner will be announced in 2021.

Brave hinterland

Cool contrasts

Wild city

The bid for European Capital of Culture is a long-term urban development project and is not merely a celebration year of culture. The core ideas of the application have been formed into a headline, supported by three themes. They describe the current situation in Oulu including its challenges and visions, its position in Europe and Finland, future prospects and the steps for developing a more comfortable, united and cultural Oulu and Northern Finland through science, art and mobility. The starting points have been nature, the peripheral areas, community and urban city culture.

The themes have been created with the 20 creative advisors, of which everyone has their own area of expertise and competence including science, art and various fields of culture.


High-quality art and culture are present and active in Oulu, its surrounding areas and northern Finland. However, their appreciation and financial funding have long trailed behind both nationally as well as locally. We want to emphasize the significant role of culture as a factor in improving the quality of life. We are of course aware of the global concern over climate change.

It is time for all of us to make Oulu and Northern Finland together a better place to live, to enjoy and to love. This is achieved through culture – together, and that is why we need a cultural climate change in the North!


Theme 1


Bravely on the peripheral edge


We are far away from everything yet still in the centre. Oulu is located in the periphery of Europe – yet we create world-class art. Technological know-how is at the forefront in art, sport and everyday life. We have an urban city and the wilderness is also nearby. We have a proud history with a plethora of stories from the north. We are not afraid of darkness or an empty forest. We can experience silence, the mild sunlight of winter and spring, the contrast of seasons and the soothing effect of nature.

How can we make the region’s exquisite features well known to Europeans? How would you define the city outside of the metropolitan area, a place for some of Europe’s most populous forests? How does the northern nature motivate us, inspire us to experience, move, and play? Northern nature brings prosperity, provides a framework for culture and a space for art.



  • To make the Nordic phenomena more visible and strengthen local identities

  • To bring our precious history and various folk tales to the forefront

  • To bring the city’s inhabitants to the peripheral edge and the peripheral edge to the city

  • To take advantage of our beautiful estuaries and river basins with the sea in the middle; ice and marshes as well-functioning platforms

  • Winter saunas, winter swimming, night, dark matter, dark light

  • To become moved by and in nature, naturally – on its own and by means through art and culture

  • Active health movement to the foreground and increase urban biking

  • To make more use of parks and empty areas

  • To value authenticity

  • To protect all of this and to cherish our nature

    #movedbynature #northernemotion #winterland #worlclasshinterland #liiku #liikutuluonnosta #liikujaliikutu

Theme 2


The power of opposites


Northern Finland and Oulu are the kingdom of great contrasts, both in good and bad way. Many people experience the presence of the opposites in the spiritual atmosphere; there is a combination of conservatism, bohemian liberalism, artists and engineers all speaking different languages, as well as, the peripheral regions that feel left behind in the shadows of the City. But these contradictions give us strength: light and darkness, nightless nights of the midnight sun and sunless days in the heart of winter, cold and heat, land and sea, river and beaches, on the edge and centred, distance and closeness, relaxed and harsh, silence and screaming, etc.

How do we learn to better understand each other? What new and surprising connections can we create and nourish? We can listen, appreciate, be curious, supportive and interested in each other. Let’s celebrate our differences in the city of contrasts!


  • Collaboration of culture, science, art, and technology across genre boundaries creates new, surprising links, international collaboration 

  • To turn our character, that is, black humour into affection and a permissive resource 

  • To treat challenges and difficult situations with joy and to be able to discuss and burst spiritual and geographical bubbles 

  • To celebrate a peaceful co-existence, to protect special groups and create a better living environment for children and the elderly 

  • The City and its own cultural institutions, freelancers and grassroots artists cooperate and work together to do more than anyone could do alone

  • To carry out unprecedentedly important projects, productions, festivals, and events that have deeper and longer lasting effects 

  • To create life-changing experiences that inspire people to travel and move to Oulu and elsewhere in the North

    #celebratecontrasts #connectingpeople #celebrateOulu #burstingbubbles #muutaOuluun #lifechangingexperiences #syrjässämuttakeskellä

Theme 3


Urban attraction factors


We want to make the city flourish and to make it lively and approachable. There is plenty of space for artists and citizens to make art and enjoy, such as the islands of Pikisaari, Lammassaari and Hietasaari or places like Hiukkavaara, Tuira, Höyhtyä, Patela, Martinniemi, Yli-Ii, Siurua. You name it and we have it!

What exactly is a creative city in the middle of the wild nature? What is a lively, creative village? How do art, subcultures and creative spaces fill emptiness, silence and darkness? What are the Urban Attraction Factors that Oulu needs as it is one of Europe’s youngest urban areas.


  • To emphasize the charm factors; a beautiful city that can be charming or swift

  • Art start-up incubators are combined with technology

  • Controlled Madness: Subcultures, Urban Wild

  • To fill the cultural media vacuum

  • WOW style architecture

  • Artist Ambassadors, Pikisaari Island Areas, tourist attractions

  • To listen to young people: more free places for being, doing and creating

  • To fill empty urban spaces, we need creative spaces for the cultural people

  • More space for citizens: cultural packages, living rooms, creative spaces

  • To unleash the feeling that something exciting could always happen

  • To create an atmosphere that makes young people appreciate their home area, to stay or to return

    #wildcity #arcticurban #viehkoOulu #vauhkoOulu #urbanwild #villiurbaani #hallittuhulluus #maailmanluokankaupunni #paskakaupunni #kyliäkaupunnissa