Wrexham a step closer to being crowned UK City of Culture 2025 as it makes the final four

  • Arts minister Lord Parkinson: 'Congratulations to Wrexham - it's been a tough competition this year'

Wrexham County Borough is a step closer to becoming the UK's next City of Culture as it's confirmed to be one of four places shortlisted for the final stage of the competition.

A record 20 cities and areas submitted bids for the 2025 title - a quarter of which were from Wales.

The final four locations - Wrexham, Bradford, County Durham, and Southampton - were approved by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries based on independent advice made to the UK government.

Wrexham is the only Welsh entry to make the shortlist this time, while the City of Bangor and Northwest Wales, Conwy County, City of Newport, and Powys failed to make it past the first stage.

Wrexham has made the shortlist from a record 20 entries. Credit: Craig Colville for Wrexham City of Culture bid 2025

The 20 applicants were initially whittled down to a long-list of eight places, which also included Cornwall, Derby, Stirling, and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

All bids were asked to explain how they would use culture to grow and strengthen their local area, as well as how they would use culture to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The judging panel will now visit the four shortlisted places before making their final recommendation.

The winner will be announced in May in Coventry - the UK's third City of Culture since the initiative began in 2013.

Derry~Londonderry was the first ever City of Culture, followed by Hull.

The Arc sculpture on Wrexham's Lord Street, depicting a miner and a steelworker on brick plinths. Credit: Craig Colville for Wrexham City of Culture bid 2025

The chosen area will benefit from more investment and cultural events, as well as a boost to regeneration and local tourism.

Arts minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: "The UK City of Culture competition shows the important role that culture can play in levelling up our towns, cities and rural communities - bringing investment, great events, thousands of tourists, and opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds.

"We have seen a huge positive impact in this year’s host city, Coventry, with millions of pounds in investment and thousands of visitors.

"This has been a record year for bids, which is great to see. Congratulations to the four shortlisted places - I wish them all the best of luck.”

Wrexham is the only one of five Welsh entries to make the shortlist this time around. Credit: Craig Colville for Wrexham City of Culture bid 2025

Sir Phil Redmond, chair of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said: "Culture can act as a catalyst for community engagement, civic cohesion and a driver for economic and social change.

"We have had a great longlist to select from, which made the shortlisting difficult, but I am now looking forward to visiting each of the shortlisted places with the panel to witness culture’s catalytic effect in action.”

The judging panel spoke of how culture can bring a community together and drive social change. Credit: Craig Colville for Wrexham City of Culture bid 2025

Coventry City of Culture Trust's chief executive Martin Sutherland said: "This is such an exciting moment for the shortlisted cities and we wish them all the best for the next stage.

"Holding the title in Coventry has been a privilege and has made a considerable impact already on the city and its citizens.

"We can’t wait to see what comes next for those who’ve used the bidding process to truly consider the value of culture - all will have inspired the next generation of artists, organisations, funders and supporters."

Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney watch Wrexham AFC play. Credit: PA Images

Wrexham has been making waves in recent months after Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney surprised football fans by taking over Wrexham AFC.

The famous pair have invested heavily in the club and have been spotted in Wrexham on a number of occasions.