It might already be making global headlines thanks to its Hollywood-backed football team, but the Welsh county of Wrexham could pinch even more of the limelight if the city is crowned UK City of Culture 2025.
Wrexham County Borough (Bwrdeistref Sirol Wrecsam), in North Wales, is one of only four places left in the running for the coveted title, which has never been previously awarded to a Welsh destination.
This is the first year regions have been able to enter the competition, with another finalist County Durham, in northern England, also entering in this format. The other two destinations chasing the grand prize, which is awarded every four years by the UK government, are the English cities of Bradford and Southampton.
Wrexham’s bid for UK City of Culture focuses on the region’s ties with the Welsh language, its football team (the oldest in Wales, and one of the oldest in the world) and the area’s evolving cultural diversity. Other notable attributes include the region’s proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, and its annual music festival for emerging artists FOCUS Wales, which has been taking place for over a decade and draws thousands of music lovers each spring.
In the last few days, judges from the competition have visited the county, ahead of the announcement of the winning destination on 26 May.
Speaking about the bid, Joanna Swash, who chairs the county’s bid team, told the BBC, "I feel really, really confident. We have got an extraordinary bid, an awful lot of detail, and I'm really proud of what the team has been able to put together in such a short space of time."
Swash also noted that the bid “stood out” because the whole community is behind it, including the FOCUS music festival.
Alongside the prestige of winning the competition against the 20 locations who entered (a record number of entrants), the title of UK City of Culture brings with it significant economic benefits. According to the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, 2013 winner Derry-Londonderry received more than £150 million of public and private sector investment following its successful bid, while the 2017 winner, Hull, saw a 10 per cent increase in visitor numbers during its tenure.
Find out more about the historic town of Wrexham and its surroundings.