UNESCO Creative Cities Network

INDEX © Adriano Ferreira Borges

Since its launch in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) has fostered dialogue and collaboration among cities. Over the past two decades, cities committed to leverage the power of culture and creativity have benefited from the UCCN, finding inspirations for sustainable urban development in all its socioeconomic and environmental facets. As a vital platform for cities, the UCCN promotes peer learning, exchange of good practices and fosters collaborative projects, as well as empowers cities to integrate cultural vitality into comprehensive urban development strategies. The Network covers seven distinctive yet interactive creative fields — Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music. The Creative Cities Network endeavour extends beyond cultural preservation; it is an active engagement in identifying trends, tackling urban challenges, and transforming cultural interactions into valuable assets.

UCCN Annual Conference

INDEX © Jose Caldeira

UNESCO Creative Cities Network Annual Conferences are a unique occasion to strengthen the ties between member cities from around the world. Hosted by a different city every year, it serves as a platform to define the strategic objectives of an expanded and well-balanced Network.

Previous Annual Conferences:  Paris (2008), Santa Fe (2008), Lyon (2009), Shenzhen (2010), Seoul (2011), Montréal (2012), Bologna (2013), Chengdu (2014), Kanazawa (2015), Östersund (2016), Enghien-les-Bains (2017), Krakow e Katowice (2018), Fabriano (2019), Santos (2022).

XVI UNESCO Creative Cities Network Annual Conference, Braga, Portugal, 2024

Circuito_Braga Media Arts ©Lais Pereira

With a resolute focus on ’20 years of UCCN: bringing youth to the table for the next decade’, the Conference underscores the critical imperative to harness the power of creativity and culture in building resilient and inclusive cities around the world. It stresses the importance of involving young minds in shaping this future. 

At the 2024 UCCN Annual Conference hosted by Braga, the goal is to spotlight how creativity in cities empowers lively and sustainable urban life, influences future cities for next generations, and fosters the expression of cultural diversity. It strives to enable substantive dialogue concerning the diverse factors that shape cultural governance, bolster investment initiatives, and cultivate diverse cross-sectoral collaborations and innovation. Additionally, it draws attention to the importance of creative solutions and culture-oriented practices in propelling the state of sustainable development. Furthermore, it sheds a light on the role of culture in today’s society within the city’s context, emphasising its global recognition as a public good. 

The Creative Cities of Northern Portugal

To fully embrace collaboration across various creative expressions, the Conference discussions will extend to a dynamic immersion programme in the regional Creative Cities in Northern Portugal – Amarante, Barcelos, and Santa Maria da Feira.

Santa Maria da Feira


Braga, with its enormous beauty and rich heritage, combines tradition and innovation, memory and youth, creativity and preservation. With over 2000 years of rich history, Braga presents places that stand out as mandatory landmarks and visits, such as the Sanctuary of Sameiro, Bom Jesus, and the reminiscent layout of the Roman city that founded it. Population: 174000 inhabitants. UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts since 2017.


Crossed by the Tâmega River and nestled amidst the Marão and Aboboreira mountains, Amarante is a destination enriched by centuries of history, offering a blend of nature, culture, and gastronomy. The urban area of the city is adorned with beautiful scenery featuring historic buildings, churches, the riverbanks, and its iconic bridge. History, arts, and literature are deeply ingrained in the city, which has been the birthplace of important figures in Portuguese culture. Population: 52000 inhabitants. UNESCO Creative City of Music since 2017.


Crossed by the Cávado River, Barcelos is one of the most emblematic towns of Minho's folk art, especially due to the long tradition and originality of its ceramics. An ancient city, located in a place with archaeological remains dating back to prehistory, a stroll through Barcelos cannot overlook the ancient Largo da Feira, the Ceramics Museum, and the Barcelos Craft Center. A land with a strong identity, it is the birthplace of one of the most iconic Portuguese symbols, The Galo de Barcelos. Population: 116000 inhabitants. UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art since 2017.

Santa Maria da Feira

Santa Maria da Feira owes its name to a fair that used to take place in its grounds, linking the North and Central of Portugal. Its historical landmark is its castle, but the city is also endowed with modern infrastructures. Among the traditional events on the calendar, the Fogaceiras Festival stands out. It features a parade linked to the tradition of 'fogaças,' a type of traditional sweet bread from the region. Population: 136000 inhabitants. UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy since 2021.

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