Start your application now

In 2019 UNESCO will be calling for applications from cities who are interested in joining the UNESCO Creative City Network.

There are seven artforms in the network of which literature is one: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, music, and media arts. Cities bid to join the network in the artform in which they specialise and have an outstanding reputation.

If your city is interested in becoming a UNESCO City of Literature, you should start your journey here. We also suggest you start now as we expect that UNESCO will request detailed applications within the first few months of 2019, so it can announce successful applications during the Creative Cities Network Conference in June 2019. Your next opportunity to apply will not be until 2021, if the recently adopted bi-annual network expansion timeline is maintained.

We have created material to help you on that journey and these are the first five simple steps:


This is the Press Pack for the Cities of Literature and gives you a sense of who we are, the benefits of the designation and how we work together.


This Guide will help your city if your city is thinking of bidding – it explains everything you need to know at this stage.


It is important you learn more about the network you may be joining and so we have prepared some information for you about how it all began.


Visit the UNESCO website

This is where you can learn more about the 180 cities in the UNESCO Creative City Network and our strategic aims and activity. Of the 180 Creative Cities, 28 are designated as a City of Literature.


Contact Us

It is important that cities preparing to bid make links with designated cities in the network.

Edinburgh City of Literature was the founding city of the network and the first City of Literature recognised by UNESCO. Our insight has been instrumental in helping other cities to make successful applications to our network. Talk to us!



Being a UNESCO City of Literature means we are active, passionate and creative in our approach. We are committed to nurturing and supporting our artform, to collaborating internationally by sharing best practice, to supporting freedom of speech and delivering projects which ensure literature reaches as wide and diverse an audience as possible, locally and internationally. Our work takes place within the wider framework of the Creative City Network mission statement.

Before you apply, please prepare to be dedicated.


Reception at Edinburgh’s City Chambers marking the tenth anniversary of its designation