UNESCO Creative Cities in the UK

The UNESCO Global Creative Cities Network is a global network of cities working towards the joint mission of placing creativity and cultural industries at the core of their urban development to make their cities safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable. Made up of 180 Members globally, UNESCO Creative Cities specialise in seven fields: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts.

Creative Cities work to strengthen the creation, production, distribution, and enjoyment of cultural goods and services at the local level, to promote creativity and creative expression especially among vulnerable groups, including women and young people, to enhance access to and participation in cultural life as well as enjoyment of cultural goods, and to strengthen the integration of cultural and creative industries and cultural tourism in local development plans.


Scroll down for details of each UNESCO Creative City in the UK or click on the image above to go an interactive map.


Crafts and Folkart

Cities of Craft and Folk Art are places where creativity has had a central role in the history and development of the area. In recent times, they have been centres of recycling, reusing and remaking – in line with climate change objectives and the Sustainable Development Goald. Cities of Craft and Folkart support traditional makers as well as paving the way for entrepreneurs and artisans through training programmes and designated support systems.


How can design address social inequalities and opportunities in local communities? That’s one of the key questions lying at the heart of Cities of Design. They use innovation and creativity to drive medical research and tackle issues such as unemployment and health problems. They create and endorse collaborations between citizens, scientists, designers and artists to solve social and economic problems together.


Cities of Film testify to rich and diverse local film and TV production communities and tap into this remarkable abundance in many innovative ways. From fostering new talent and creating new studio space, to encouraging international collaborations and celebrating the moving image at film festivals—these cities strive to encourage learning about and with film.


Cities of Literature are all about the written and spoken world. They champion the magic of words by inspiring people to tell, share and enjoy stories. From literary festivals, libraries and writers’ hubs to author readings, book clubs and much more – these cities use the power of literature to foster communities’ better understanding, well-being and learning.

Media Arts

Cities of Media Arts combine new media and cutting-edge technologies with culture and the arts to drive societal, economic and individual well-being. Think digital story-telling, innovative museum interpretations, immersive digital playgrounds and interactive technologies to unlock creative potential, build (digital) connections, promote education, and foster diversity and inclusivity.


Cities of Music share a rich and diverse music history. Concert halls, open mics, music clubs, festivals, societies and associations are just a few examples of how these cities foster and engage their communities through music. They also promote exceptional and original musical talent, connect local artists with the music industry, build the sector through collaborations and tourism, and drive music policies. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Explore the UK’s UNESCO Creative Cities

Belfast – City of Music

Belfast’s UNESCO journey began in 2017 when the Council asked 20,000 people – ‘What does home mean to you?’ It emerged that for many, home is an emotional connection – a sense of belonging and within those responses, music was a recurring theme. Belfast Creative City of Music will deliver a series of high profile music events, aim to build its infrastructure to further support music creators, and will see music woven into public spaces and places to ensure the power and benefits of music can be felt by all who live, work in or visit the city.

Visit the Site

Bradford – City of Film

Bradford is a UNESCO City of Film in recognition of its rich film heritage, its inspirational movie locations and its many celebrations of the moving image through the city’s annual film festivals. Bradford has a long history associated with film and filmmaking dating back to the birth of cinema and has long been acknowledged by the film industry as a film-friendly city. Bradford is a key location for film and television production and boasts a number of key film festivals including the Bradford International Film Festival, the Bradford Animation Festival and is also home to the National Media Museum.

Visit the Site

Bristol – City of Film

The Gateway to England’s West Country, Bristol (pop. 454,200) is the United Kingdom’s 10th largest city and an established centre for creative innovation. Home to motion picture pioneer William Friese-Greene, Hollywood icon Cary Grant, the world-leading BBC Natural History unit and Academy Award®-winning Aardman Animations, film plays a central role in Bristol’s cultural and commercial identity. The sector significantly contributes to the local economy with independent companies providing US$197,8 million and visiting productions bringing US$258 million into the city in 2016 and 2017.

Visit the Site

Dundee – City of Design

Dundee is a remarkable city with a population of 147,000 inhabitants – small and compact, but reaching far beyond its boundaries with a thriving and innovative design heart. Just a century ago, Dundee was an economic power house – a centre for the textile trade and shipbuilding. Although now mass production is almost all gone, design is still an integral part of Dundee’s contemporary creative scene and economy, with expertise in fashion and textile, art and jewellery as well as a wealth of digital companies making their mark on the world.

Visit the Site

Edinburgh – City of Literature

Edinburgh is the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Designated in 2004, the capital of Scotland has a population of almost 500,000. It is the birthplace and home to world-famous writers, poets and playwrights including Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Walter Scott (Waverley), and JK Rowling (Harry Potter). It has its own Poet Laureate, the Edinburgh Makar. Publishing Scotland, the national body for publishers, as well as award-winning independent publishers are based here. The Edinburgh International Book Festival is the world’s largest literary festival of its kind, lasting for two weeks each August. The Festival welcomes approximately 800 authors from nearly 40 countries and brings in over 225,000 visitors annually.

Visit the Site

Exeter – City of Literature

Exeter is a city in Devon, with a population of 130,000. Once a centre of world trade in the 1700s, the city is now considered an emerging creative tech and literary hub. As well as having a rich heritage linked with some of the country’s most famous writers, including Agatha Christie, Ted Hughes, Daphne du Maurier and Charles Causley, its 1,000-year-old Cathedral houses The Exeter Book, a 10th century anthology described as ‘the foundation volume of English Literature’. Thanks to the city’s dedication to literacy promotion, small presses continue to thrive in the area, despite the market downturn in other regions, and now the local creative industry contributes over $US 17million gross value added to the City, as well as providing 2,750 jobs.

Visit the Site

Glasgow – City of Music

Widely recognised as a major international musical centre, Glasgow is the musical capital of Scotland, and is the largest music economy in the UK after London. Historically, music has played a key role in Glasgow. Music continues to be a vibrant part of city life and is reflected in the excellence of its musicians and practitioners, the enthusiasm of its music audiences as well as in its public policies addressing music both as an art form as well as a tool of education and social integration.

Visit the Site

Liverpool – City of Music

Situated in the North-West of England, Liverpool recognises creativity as a means of sustaining its post-industrial renewal. Home to 470,000 inhabitants and one of the most influential rock bands in history, music is at the heart of Liverpool’s’ cultural identity and is an important driver of its local economy, generating more than £70 million in annual turnover.

Visit the Site

Manchester – City of Literature

Manchester has a proud history in music, science, radical thinking and sport and has long attracted migrants from all over the world. Home to a population of 540.000 with 91 cultural groups and estimated 200 languages spoken, Manchester is a diverse and multicultural city. Manchester’s radical thinking tradition means that free expression is central to civic identity. Literature has been a force for change, innovation, openness and collaboration throughout the city’s history. It is where Engels and Marx worked together at Chetham’s Library and where Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her campaigning novels.

Visit the Site

Norwich – City of Literature

A medium-sized city (population 230,000) in the East of England, Norwich is a place where ideas and the written word have flourished for over 900 years. The city’s literary heritage includes the first book to be published in English by a woman: Revelations of Divine Love written by Julian of Norwich in the fourteenth century which still resonates to this day. In more recent times, Britain’s first MA in Creative Writing was founded at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Writers of world standing – including Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro – emerged from this programme. It is now widely regarded as one of the most influential courses for new writing.

Visit the Site

Nottingham – City of Literature

Located in the centre of England, and home to 320,000 inhabitants – with 786,000 in the wider urban area, Nottingham boasts a rich history of illustrious literary figures residing within its walls, such as Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence, Stanley Middleton and Alan Sillitoe, to name but a few. Now, as a hub for creatively, records show that over 2,400 creative businesses, employing nearly 20,000 people, are based there.

Visit the Site

Perth – City of Crafts and Folk Art

In 2021 Perth was named the first UK Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art. The Perth bid focused on the importance of craft to the history and heritage of our city – it was known as ‘Craftistown’ from the early 16th century because of the importance of trades and its Incorporation of Guilds. Craft is still essential today with a wealth of creative talent across the whole area and the growing creative industry sector. Being a UNESCO city has huge positive impact on a city and the surrounding region; it is a world recognised badge of quality for the area, a driver of funding streams and a way of creating new commercial and learning opportunities for creatives and makers to live and work in.

Visit the Site

York – City of Media Arts

For two millennia, York has been a meeting point for ideas and creativity. Founded as a Roman fortress in 71 AD, York’s world-class heritage continues to be its cultural centrepiece, attracting over seven million visitors per year. Media arts are the engine of York’s continued development.

Visit the Site