The search is on to find the country’s 2025 City of Culture - and for the first time groups of smaller towns will be able to apply, as well as larger cities.
The winner of the new search will take over from this year's city of culture, Coventry. The government has also confirmed the festival, which began in 2013, will continue in 2029 and beyond.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the new criteria would widen the areas eligible to benefit from the scheme: “UK City of Culture is a showcase of the huge impact culture has in towns and cities across the country. Previous winners have shown how the competition can deliver greater cultural participation, drive economic regeneration and boost local pride.
“I encourage towns and cities across the UK to put forward bids for 2025.”
He said City of Culture uses the arts as one way of “levelling up” different parts of the country.
Title candidates need to show a “strong and unique vision” that uses heritage and culture to bring communities together and uses the arts to promote growth.
Bradford, Medway in Kent and Lancashire have already indicated they will bid for 2025. The winner will be announced early next year.