12th CN Conference

Culture Next Conference

Oulu, Finland
February 28th to March 1st, 2024
About Culture Next

Culture Next is an informal, friendly and relaxed network dedicated to mutual support and collaboration between European cities currently or formerly in candidacies for the European Capital of Culture title. 

Five years after its founding in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Culture Next involves 29 cities on the continent. In 2021 the network received a grant from the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission to scale-up Culture Next and improve its capacity to work with more European cities.

About our Member Cities
Our members are cities or organizations representing various cities: former and future title holders, cities which continued their cultural programmes even without being selected as ECoCs and cities which intend to do this.
Many of our members represent cities which are current candidates, interested in developing European connection and sustainable cultural programmes which can be implemented independently of the jury decision.
About the Conference

For its 12th and long-awaited conference, Culture Next heads north, well north. In February 2020, we were prepared to head to Oulu, at the time a candidate city for the ECOC title, when a global pandemic caused the conference to be canceled just 2 days before its start. The pandemic is over, Oulu was the city chosen to be the European Capital of Culture in 2026 and Culture Next grew.

The Culture Next Conference is dedicated to: 

  • Cities that are full or observing members of Culture Next. 
  • Cities that are not members of Culture Next, but have been candidates or are preparing or reflecting on a potential candidature for the title of European Capital of Culture may also participate. 

Participation conditions

  • Full members: the organization assumes the payment of travel cost for 2  people (through a reimbursement request) up to a maximum of 150€ per person  + two hotel nights (28 and 29 February) + meals on 28, 29 and the lunch of March 01 +  conference registration for 2 members.
  • Observing members: the organization will pay for meals on 28, 29 and the lunch of March 01 + conference registration for 2 members.
  • Non-members: each participant from non-member cities should pay a fee of  250€ per person and will be entitled to conference attendance and meals on 28, 29 and the lunch of March 01.

Cities that are in the process of finalizing their status as Observing Members can already access the benefits of Observer Membership at this conference. If you have any questions about this topic, please contact Bruno Inácio via email at bruno@culturenext.eu or whatsApp +351 962192690. 

The general conference program is as follows:

  • On February 28th (Wednesday) we will have a workshop for members involved in the SGD Pilot program. After that, from 6pm we will welcome all participants to the Conference.
  • On February 29th (Thursday) we will start the conference at 09:00.
  • The conference ends its official program on March 1st, Friday at 4pm. For your flight organization, the time between the place where the conference ends and the airport is around 15 Km and by Taxi it takes around 25 minutes.
Registration Open Until January 25, Midnight

Before registering, carefully read the following important information. 


The conference hotel is Hotel Scandic Oulu City, located in the center of Oulu. Name of the hotel is:

Address: Saaristonkatu 4, 90100 Oulu.

The organization will ensure the following:

    • For Full Members: 2 nights hotel accommodation for 2 people in single rooms. The nights will be 28 and 29 February and cannot be changed. 
    • For Observing members and non-members: There is no obligation to stay at this hotel, but we recommend it and encourage it. To do so, you just need to fill the registration and let us know your travel dates. We will book it for you and let you know how to handle the payment. 
    • For extra nights (anyone): If you’ll stay at this hotel for the extra nights, then the Oulu team will take care of the arrangements, and you can pay for the extra nights at the hotel. If you decide to stay at some other hotel, please book directly with the hotel of your choice so you can make the necessary payment arrangements. See the hotel recommendations under Travel info. 
    • For SGD Pilot participants: 1 night hotel accommodation in a single room for 1 person. This night will be the night of 27 of February.

More info about accommodation and registration:

  • Accommodation information and request (for all participants, full and observing members, non-members and participants in the SGD Pilot Workshop) will be centralized by the Oulu team. Please carefully complete the conference registration form for each participant where you should indicate which nights you need for each of the participating people

The Oulu team will then transmit the needs to the conference hotel to guarantee reservations. 

You will be informed by the Oulu team how to proceed with the payment of the extra nights that each person will require.

For those who can, we encourage you to stay the night from March 1st to 2nd for the unofficial (but very interesting!) program.

The Conference Agenda
February 28
Wednesday | @Oulu2026 office, address: Torikatu 18

Pre-meeting day

09:00-12:00 | SDG meeting with the pilot cities (for cities participating in the project)

12:00-13:00 | Lunch at Cafe Antell Piha (at the same location)

13:00-16:00 | SDG meeting part 2

16:00-18:00 | Free time

18:00Welcoming words, drinks & dinner (all participants | location TBD)

February 29
Thursday | @Oulu Art Museum, Kasarmintie 9, Satula space

Public day - open for local actors

09:00-09:30 | Reception and Welcome coffee

09:30-11:45 | Welcoming words

  • Roll Calls: who is participating in the Conference and who are the new cities attending
  • Presentation from Oulu2026: Cultural Climate Change
  • New Member Cities Presentations

11:45-12:00 | Walk to lunch (served at next venue)

12:00-13:00 | Lunch (location: Nordic Art Hotel Lasaretti, Kasarmintie 13b)

Together with Oulu2026 Academy:

13:00-13:15 | State of the Network: Stefan Teişanu (Secretary General, Culture Next)

13.15-14:00 | Keynote: Andrew Melchior (CTO at Massive Attack)

14:00-14:45 | City Pitches (Cities participating in the conference and wishing to present a project, looking for partners for those projects, should register for pitch in the conference registration form)

14:45-15:00 | Coffee break

15:00-16:15 | Matchmaking session with local actors

16:15-16:30 | Reflections of the day 

16:30-17:45 | Free time

17:45 | Departure from hotel

18:00 | Polar Bear Pitching, the coolest startup event in the world, followed by dinner and After Party. In the Polar Bear Pitching we will be watching, not participating.



March 01
Friday | @Cultural Centre Valve, Hallituskatu 7, Valvesali hall

Internal day

09:00-09:15 | Morning walk from the hotel to the conference venue

09:15-09:30 | Welcome Coffee
09:30-10:00 | Presenting the Oulu City Cultural Services 
10:00-13:00 | Next on Culture Next 

  • SGD Pilot Project
  • Communication strategy
  • Thematic Working Groups
  • Mobility Program
  • Members update
  • Creative Europe Grant

13:00-14:00 |  Lunch (Valve, Restaurant Paljetti)
14:00-15:30 | ECoC Therapy Sessions (4 groups: Bidding Cities, Implementation, Legacy and cities that did not win the title, known among us as “proud losers”)
15:30-16:00 | Final Conclusions and Next Steps
16:00 | End of the official program

The time between the place where the conference ends and the airport is around 15 Km and by taxi it takes around 25 minutes. 

Optional programme and incentives for the ones staying for Friday evening and the weekend:

16:00-17:45 | Free time or Art Goes Afterwork at Cultural Centre Valve 
17:45 | Bus transportation leaves from Hotel Scandic Oulu City (sharp)
18:00-22:00 | Pehkolanlampi Sauna Evening, hosted by City of Oulu (at Pehkolanlampi Guest House, Peräkyläntie 225)

There is a possibility to have a traditional Finnish sauna during the evening (separate saunas and changing rooms for women and men). In that case you can bring along your own bathing suit or have a sauna without it (the Finnish style). Everything else needed for sauna and washing can be found on site, incl. towels, soap, shampoo, etc. During the evening, traditional salmon soup and schnapps are served.  

March 02
Saturday | @Nallikari beach, Oulu & Restaurant Nallikari (~4 km from the hotel)

Optional day

12:00-14:00 | Arctic Pulse kick-off at Restaurant Nallikari. Network of Northern Scandinavia’s music and culture scenes. Enjoy the dj gig of Sami Collective - and why not a nice sauna/jacuzzi in the arctic surroundings. 

From 14:00 onwards: Frozen People Festival - Frozen People is a festival of electronic music and northern art held at Nallikari in Oulu. The event defies the weather conditions during the winter on the frozen waters of the Bothnian Bay. The frozen sea provides the brutal and unique Arctic conditions for the world's most chilling dances, art experiences, arctic foods and beverages. Free of charge.

23:00-04:00 | The Festival's After Sea - after event will be held at Valve Cultural Centre, Hallituskatu 7, in the center of Oulu.



Useful information

We encourage everyone to stay in Oulu for 1 more night and to schedule at least the night of March 1st. You can indicate this on the registration form too.

If your city is participating in the SDG Pilot Project, we suggest that you arrive a day early and stay overnight in Oulu on the night of February 27th to 28th. Culture Next pays the cost of the night on February 27th for 1 person per city/members participating in SGD Pilot. Please, add this info in the registration form.

For participants in the Conference, Culture Next pays 2 nights (28 and 29 February and cannot be changed) per person per full member. If a full member wants to participate with more than 2 people, they must register those people and pay only the hotel cost for those extra people.

Cities that are not members should pay a participation fee of €250 per person. This amount entitles you to registration at the conference and participation in all its activities, as well as meals included in the program. The hotel is not included in this participation fee.

Observing members and non-members who do not wish to stay in the hotel selected by the conference organization must make explicit mention of this on the registration form.

The registration fee payment process for non-members is as follows: This fee should be paid directly to Oulu Culture Foundation. Please send an email to info@oulu2026.eu asking for an  invoice. Please send the data for the invoice (name; organization; address; fiscal number; email  address.

If you have any questions regarding accommodation, please contact directly: monika.mannikko@oulu2026.eu

We are preparing a programme that will be mostly within walking distance of the official hotel. Some transport may be necessary in very specific situations but the organization will  provide it to all participants (full, observing and non-members).

Travel to Oulu

The City of Oulu is located halfway of Finland on the west coast by the Bay of Bothnia, appr. 600 kilometers from the Capital City of Helsinki. You can reach Oulu via Helsinki by several transportation means (all tickets can be purchased online): 

Also, there is a direct flight from München to Oulu with Lufthansa (3 hours), a flight departing from München to Oulu on Wednesday, and a return flight on Saturday. Bookings via Lufthansa: https://www.lufthansa.com/fi/en/homepage 


Oulu Airport (Oulu Lentoasema): 

For your transfer from Oulu airport to city center, you can use either public transport (bus) or taxi: 

  • BUS number 8 and 9, a direct bus route between Airport – city center (~35 minutes).  
    • Bus stops in the city near the hotel are (both stops 150 meters / 2 min walk from the hotel):  
    • Bus nr. 8 stops at “Rotuaari” bus stop 
    • Bus nr. 9 stops at “Elokuvakeskus” bus stop 

Check the Journey Planner and the bus timetables on OSL website (Oulu Regional Transport): https://www.osl.fi/en/ 

The single-way ticket costs 2,05 €, which can be paid on the bus with debit/credit card’s contactless payment feature (Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard, Eurocard debit cards and on the mobile payment apps Google Pay and Apple Pay). Your credit/debit card works as your personal bus ticket (you won’t get a ticket on the bus when you tap to pay).  You may see all your travel charges and print out a receipt from Littlepay online service with your payment card details, which are visible online for 90 days. 

  • TAXI from airport to the hotel – Taxis are lined outside the airport entrance. The cost from the airport to the hotel in the city center is typically around 40 €. 
  • TRAIN STATIONthe train station in Oulu is a 15-minute walk from your hotel or 5 minutes by taxi (1,1 kilometer). Taxis are lined up along the road by the train station.  

If you have any questions about traveling to Oulu, please contact Monika: monika.mannikko@oulu2026.eu

Hotel info for additional nights

If you wish to stay at some other hotel than the conference hotel (Hotel Scandic Oulu City) for your extra nights, please book the extra nights yourself. We recommend for example these hotels in the city center: 

GreenStar Hotel 


Sokos Hotel Arina 


Radisson Blu Oulu 


Lapland Hotels Oulu    



The average temperature at the end of February is typically around -2…-12 Celsius. Due to occasionally strong wind, the weather might feel much colder.   

What to pack with you (the winter essentials): Warm gloves, a beanie, a scarf, wool socks, good and weather-appropriate shoes, and a thick & warm jacket.  

For the sauna & jacuzzi (and ice holes): Swimwear. Towels are not necessary (usually provided on site, and of course at the hotel).

How to dress (wintertime): It’s good to always check the day’s weather forecast before heading out so you’ll know exactly how to dress to be as comfortable and as warm as possible. Our best advice is to dress for the likeliest weather and to wear layers that you can take off or add on, when needed (pack spare layers of clothing in your bag / backpack).

Local weather forecast: https://en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi/local-weather/oulu  

NOTE: If you don’t have suitable winter clothes of your own, it is also possible to rent winter outerwear for your stay. If this option interests you, please contact Monika: monika.mannikko@oulu2026.eu.

Practical information

Language: The national languages are Finnish and Swedish (Finnish is the most used). English is widely spoken.  
Timezone in Finland: EET – Eastern European Time  
Emergency number: 112   
Currency: EUR. Credit cards are widely accepted (Amex, Visa, MasterCard).  
Pharmacy: “Apteekki” in Finnish. Yliopiston Apteekki (University Pharmacy) in the city, address: Isokatu 27, open daily 8-23.   
Taxi: Taxis can be ordered by phone or by getting one at a taxi stand.   

All taxis accept credit cards.

Uber / Bolt: Uber and Bolt operate also in Oulu, but a ride ordered through a taxi company might be more reliable, because Uber/Bolt is not yet so widely in use.

Download the Map of the Oulu City Centre 

Things To See & Do: https://visitoulu.fi/en/see-and-do/ 
Places to Eat & Drink: https://visitoulu.fi/en/eat-drink/

Any current or former ECoC candidate city is eligible for participation, no matter if they were or not previously engaged with the Culture Next network. What matters is your interest to be engaged from now on.

Please use the form below to register for the Elefsina Conference before May 14th at midnight. 

Culture Next Membership Status
Full member cityObserving member cityNon a member city
Contact phone / email
Motivation to join the Elefsina Conference (less than 100 words)