1st Edition

Cultural Mega-Events and Heritage Challenges for European Cities

Edited By Davide Ponzini Copyright 2023

    This book analyses case studies of heritage-rich cities that hosted mega-events to discuss emerging challenges, controversies, and accomplishments.

    The future of mega-events has never been more uncertain. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an unparalleled level of doubt regarding the kind of mega-events that will take place in the coming years. This book arrives at a quite unique moment of reflection. Prior to 2020, cities were already questioning the traditional format of mega-events (e.g. Olympics and Expo) while other cultural mega-events have been spreading and gaining popularity, thanks in part to typically lower costs of infrastructures and venues, far more adaptable arrangements, spatial distribution and time frame for hosting. In these ways, they have already been demonstrating higher flexibility in which to respond to future health and safety constraints. When it comes to the relation to the existing city, cultural mega-events have been planned, implemented, and studied far more than any other. By leveraging the richness of cultural mega-events, this multidisciplinary collection deepens the intersection between events and cultural heritage. The chapters in this book provide a new theoretical framework, critical questions, and relevant case studies to argue that the nexus between mega-events and heritage is a key challenge for many cities in Europe and beyond.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of European Planning Studies.

    Introduction – Cultural mega-events and heritage: challenges for European cities 

    Davide Ponzini 

    1. Short-term gains and long-term challenges to learning from mega-event planning in the city of Genoa 

    Zachary Mark Jones 

    2. A mega-event in a small city: community participation, heritage and scale in the case of Pafos 2017 European Capital of Culture 

    Evanthia Dova, Angeliki Sivitanidou, Natia R. Anastasi and Julia Georgi-Nerantzia Tzortzi 

    3. A heritage-inspired cultural mega-event in a stigmatized city: Hull UK City of Culture 2017 

    Enrico Tommarchi and Franco Bianchini 

    4. Cultural events and heritage policy for the Milan Expo 2015: experimental intersections between mega-event and city 

    Stefano Di Vita 

    5. Culture and heritage as a means to foster quality of life? The case of Wrocław European Capital of Culture 2016 

    Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga 

    6. Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture legacy narrative: a selective heritage? 

    Tamara West 

    7. Internationalizing small-sized cities through mega-events: the case of Matera-Basilicata 2019 European Capital of Culture 

    Marina Rotolo 

    8. Heritage and cultural mega-events: backgrounds, approaches and challenges 

    Jacek Purchla 


    Davide Ponzini is Full Professor of Urban Planning at Politecnico di Milano, Italy. He has been Visiting Scholar at Yale, Columbia University, TU Munich, and other universities. His research activity focuses on planning theory, urban and cultural policy, and contemporary architecture. His latest book is titled: Transnational Architecture and Urbanism (Routledge 2020).