The official handover of the title of European Capital of Culture took place at the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece on Monday 9 January 2023.
The European Capitals of Culture of 2022, Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Novi Sad (Serbia), officially handed over their titles to the cities and regions which will be representing the European Capitals of Culture in 2023: Elefsina (Greece), Timisoara (Romania) and Veszprém-Balaton (Hungary).
The official handover ceremony was also an opportunity for official representatives to recall the meaning and purpose of the European Capitals of Culture as unique projects which aim to celebrate European cultures. Their mission is to connect people, cities and countries through culture and to thus contribute to strengthening Europe in a sustainable way.
The 90-minute ceremony included speeches by representatives of the six European Capitals of Culture, along with that of the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas. The latter said: "The European Capitals of Culture represent what Europe is known and appreciated for, even far beyond its diverse culture: our principles of freedom, peace, justice and human rights. Culture is Europe and Europe is all of us - the six cities of today's handover ceremony, and all European Capitals of Culture of the past and the future."
"Our vision for our cross-border project in the South of Luxembourg and the East of France was always closely linked to the European idea. With Esch2022, we brought people together across cultures, generations, sectors, cities and even countries with a special focus on our partner cities," said Nancy Braun, General Director of Esch2022. "Under the leitmotif Remix Culture, Esch2022 celebrated the history and traditions of the region, but also its innovative power and creativity. With joint forces we helped shape its future in a collective spirit, so it could become a beacon of culture, sustainability, tourism, exchange and encounter through around 160 projects of which many will continue."
An artwork by Luxembourgish glass sculptor Pascale Seil symbolised both the title handover and European history. The glass sculpture, "Made by Seil", was inspired by a famous story from Greek mythology: the abduction of King Agenor's daughter, Phoenician maiden "Europa", to whom the European continent owes its name.
The highlight of the evening was the artistic performance "Tacet" by Greek-English dancer Rihannon Morgan from Luxembourg and Greek-French accordeon player Servane Io Le Moller from Athens, who were part of the Esch2022 cultural programme ("DifferDanceDays").
The evening was completed by a visit to the Acropolis Museum.