A combined bid from the Borderlands region, which also comprises the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Carlisle, has entered the competition for the prestigious title.
A record 20 places from across the UK have submitted an expression of interest.
The competition, delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in collaboration with the devolved administrations, uses culture as a catalyst for levelling up areas outside London and putting new parts of the UK on the cultural map internationally.
Entrants have been tasked with proving that they can put culture at the heart of their plans to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Regions and groups of towns have been encouraged to apply in this competition, with a number stepping forward from across the UK.
Bidding for the title in its own right has been shown to have a hugely positive impact on a place, for example previous longlisted bids have used the bidding process to bring together lasting local, national and international partners, share a vision for their area and attract investment.
To ensure as many places as possible across the country can take up this opportunity, DCMS are awarding grants of £40,000 to successful longlisted places for the first time to support their long applications.
The winner, which will be announced next year, will take on the baton from Coventry as the 2021 UK City of Culture and be at the centre of the UK’s cultural spotlight in 2025.
Throughout the history of this competition the winning cities have always benefited from financial support to ensure the programme’s success and lasting legacy. Coventry has received over £15.5 million from the Government to directly support its year as UK City of Culture.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This record number of applications from all four corners of the country is testament to the huge success of City of Culture in generating investment, creating jobs and boosting local pride.
“This prestigious prize creates a fantastic opportunity for towns and cities to build back better from the pandemic and I wish all bidders the very best of luck.”
Sir Phil Redmond, chairman of the City of Culture Expert Advisory Panel, said: “From Derry-Londonderry to Hull and Coventry it has been a difficult and rewarding challenge to select the next UK City of Culture, and the list of potential candidates for 2025 indicates that life in the immediate future is going to be even more challenging!”
The 20 bidders will be reduced to an initial long list of bidders in the coming weeks and then cut down further to a final shortlist in early 2022. The winner will be announced in May 2022.
Full list of bidders:
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon
The City of Bangor and Northwest Wales
The Borderlands region, comprising Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria and Carlisle City
City of Newport
The Tay Cities region
Torbay and Exeter
City of Wolverhampton
Wrexham County Borough
Great Yarmouth & East Suffolk