Southampton's bid for City of Culture: Everything you need to know

Pupils of Weston Park Primary School in Woolston gave an enthusiastic welcome from the shoreline. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Southampton's hopes to become the City of Culture 2025 moved to a step further today as judges arrived in the city.

The bid, backed by over 100 organisations and the city council, celebrates the diversity and culture of Southampton.

82% of residents also support the bid to become the City of Culture, according to a survey run by Southampton City Council.

If successful, it's hoped that the status will boost the local economy significantly and allow local businesses to flourish.

Why is the bid happening now?

Following on from the pandemic civic chiefs are hopeful that the status will encourage new businesses to invest and encourage existing ones to grow.

In 2021 the council described the city's culture as an 'engine', which would transform communities and enrich lives.

Previous winners of the status have seen their local economies grow by hundreds of millions of pounds.

If the bid is successful, it's likely Southampton would see similar growth.

What is the latest on the bid?

Today (Friday 13 May), Southampton welcomed the panel of judges that could crown them City of Culture 2025.

They were given a warm welcome by the bidding committee, who were tasked with convincing the judges that the city would be a worth winner.

In order to gain the accolade, Southampton must fend off competition from the other three finalists: Wrexham, Bradford and County Durham.

The panel were greeted at God's House Tower and given a short presentation to help them get their bearings, before they were taken for a boat tour to see the city from another angle.

  • Pupils from Weston Park Primary School explain why they think Southampton deserves to be crown City of Culture 2025.

Welcoming the judges were hundreds of pupils from Weston Park Primary School in Woolston.

They stood on the Weston Shore and enthusiastically waved flags for the judges as they passed by.

When asked why Southampton deserved the accolade, pupil Olivia Whiffen, said: "I think there's many that Southampton has to offer, there's many hidden gems that need their chance to shine.

"It could really help Southampton achieve to the best of its ability."

Who is involved in the bid?

There are over 100 local organisations involved, and some well known faces from the region.

Singer, Craig David, who was born in the city has thrown his support behind the bid. He rose to fame in the late nineties, with his debut album 'Born To Do It' based around his experiences growing up in Southampton.

Masterchef Champion, Shelina Permalloo, was born in Southampton to Mauritian parents and has shown her support for the bid.

The chef has spoken proudly about her links to the city in the past when speaking to the media.

She now runs a restaurant in the city and says the bid will allow everyone to 'harness' their creativity.

Lawrie McMenemy MBE is another key supporter, saying 'This town [Southampton] has down everything right to deserve it [City of Culture 2025]'.

A legend amongst Southampton fans, Sir Lawrie led Southampton FC to victory against Man United in the 1976 FA Cup final.

  • Claire Whitaker, Bid Director for Southampton City of Culture 2025.

Claire Whitaker, the Bid Director, said: "Our bid addresses our needs but it also talks about the opportunities that the bid could bring.

"I think we're balancing those two. It's about the opportunities for the city and for the wider region as all of our neighbouring councils are partners on this bid.

"It's also an opportunity for the UK as well because of our position with the ports, our trading links and our cruise links, our own international connections.

"This is something that could be really great for the country, not just the city or the region."

When will it be decided?

The judging is taking place throughout May, with a decision expected later this month.

The winner of the bid will be announced in Coventry, the current holders, at the end of the month.