Tromsø in Northern Norway has been awarded the title of European Youth Capital 2026 with the concept "True North". "We will show that young people from the Arctic are of key strategic importance for Europe," says Luna Drecker, leader of the Tromsø Youth Council.
Tromsø will be the European Youth Capital in 2026 – and the first Arctic city to be awarded this title. The announcement came on Monday evening in Lublin, Poland, which is this year's youth capital.
"This is wonderful! The other four cities were strong competitors and had good applications, so it is very fun that the jury has chosen our "True North – Tromsø 2026" concept as the winner," says Tromsø's Deputy Mayor Sigrid Bjørnhaug Hammer (22) from the Socialist Left Party.
The other finalists were Izmir (Turkey), Málaga (Spain), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Vila do Conde (Portugal).
Tromsø convinced the jury with its commitment to promoting young people's active citizenship and strengthening their contribution to societal development, according to the European Youth Forum. The application reads that the city will do this by cultivating creativity, experimentation, and interaction.
The True North concept also emphasizes sustainability and the visibility of indigenous identity, which the jury found particularly encouraging.
Tromsø is Norway's "youngest" city, where nearly half of all its inhabitants are under 35 years old. The city has demonstrated commitment to investing in its young people in the application, states the aforementioned forum.
This is confirmed by Luna Drecker, leader of the Tromsø Youth Council.
“The process of applying for the title has had a big impact on youth participation in our city. The input from young people became the priority for Tromsø and 18 out of 43 elected officials in our city are under 35. We will show that young people from the arctic are of key strategic importance for Europe,” says Drecker.
The project will contribute to stronger youth participation not only in Tromsø but in the entire region, the youth council leader insists.
"The aim is to make the whole of Northern Norway a better place for young people and young adults to live and create," she says.
Tromsø youth's merit
In the first round, Tromsø applied to become the European Youth Capital in 2025 and reached the final, but Lviv in Ukraine came away with the victory.
The application process has been a large collaborative project between public and private actors throughout Northern Norway and the Arctic. Youth councils, youth organizations, and young volunteers have been central throughout.
"This is the merit of the youth in Tromsø, and I am so proud! Congratulations to everyone and especially to the Tromsø Youth Council who were behind the initiative. Tromsø shall be a world-class youth municipality," says Mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen (Labor).
European Youth Capital
– The European Youth Capital is a title awarded by the European Youth Forum designed to empower young people and boost youth participation in all aspects of city life.
– Since 2009, 14 European cities have been able to showcase their innovative ideas and projects to promote active young citizenship. In total, more than 10,000 events have been carried out, and the cities have secured tens of millions in additional funding.
– The European Youth Forum represents over 100 youth organizations vis-à-vis the EU and other international institutions. It is financed by the Council of Europe and the EU program Erasmus+.