The Designation

The UNESCO designation of literary cities is part of a wider network of UNESCO Cultural Network cities.

The designations are monitored and reviewed every four years by UNESCO. To meet the criteria, each city makes a commitment to developing a shared network strategy, fostering the exchange of information, encouraging global partnerships and promoting creativity and culture.

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Our Literary Cities

Edinburgh was the first city in 2004 to become a UNESCO City of Literature, sparking a global network of creative cities.

The range of literary activity in the cities is impressive, from the world’s largest book festival to the most unusual literary hotels. Individual authors from the cities are commemorated in public celebrations such as Bloomsday and Robert Louis Stevenson Day. Poetry is celebrated in the Young Poet Laureate scheme, poetry entryphones, live literature performances, and several poetry festivals in different cities. Celebrations of heritage – from paved walkways to statues and bridges named after writers – work alongside citywide programmes to nurture new readers. Read more
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The UNESCO Vision

The UNESCO designation of literary cities is part of a wider network of UNESCO Cultural Network cities.

The designations are monitored and reviewed every four years by UNESCO. To meet the criteria, each city makes a commitment to developing a shared network strategy, fostering the exchange of information, encouraging global partnerships and promoting creativity and culture.
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UNESCO City of Literature Criteria image

UNESCO City of Literature Criteria

Cities of Literature honour freedom of speech and free and equal access to education.

Check your city meets these criteria as you bid to become a city of literature. Visit site