Five cities are anxiously waiting to learn who has been named as the UK’s cultural hub – all hoping to qualify for UK City of Culture Status in 2021. 

Swansea, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Coventry and Paisley are all vying for the title.

The winner of the Government-backed honour can expect to see an economic boost: Liverpool estimated it generated a return of £750m to the local economy after £170m of spending for 2008. The award also comes with a £3m Heritage Lottery Fund Grant. 

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the announcement:

Who’s competing?

Swansea

Dylan Thomas’ lovely, ugly town was shortlisted last time but lost to Hull.

This year, locals are even more determined to secure the title, with homegrown stars including Catherine Zeta Jones throwing their weight behind the campaign. The Oscar-winning actress, who was born in Swansea, said in a video message that she was rooting for it because “it has supported me for many, many years”. 

“There isn’t enough time for me to go on about my love for Swansea but I am humbled by the fact that I am joined by so many creative people who were born and brought up there, in backing the bid.”

Other famous sons and daughters include the poet Dylan Thomas, singer Bonnie Tyler and actor Rob Brydon. Swansea is the second largest city in Wales after Cardiff and boasts local sites including the National Waterfront Museum, which details the city’s coal-mining history, Swansea Market and the Dylan Thomas centre.

The Gower Peninsula in Swansea was the first area in the UK to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Beauty, while its beaches – Rhossili Bay in particular – are often ranked among the most beautiful in the world. 

Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke is known for its local delicacy, the oatcake, along with a long history of pottery and ceramics – during the 17th century it was considered as one of the centres of ceramic production due to the local availability of clay.

Arguably its most famous face is Robbie Williams, who rose to fame as a member of Take That in 1990 – one of the most successful pop groups in history – before embarking on a solo career. Six of his albums are among the top 10 biggest-selling in the world. 

Sunderland

Celebrities born in Sunderland include the indie rock band The Futureheads, and Emeli Sande. It boasts a newly regenerated seafront and is currently undergoing considerable redevelopment. 

Coventry

Despite being pelted by bombs during World War II, Coventry has managed to sustain a rich cultural heritage. Claims to fame include being the place where the jet engine was invented; the centre of the motoring industry, and the location of world-famous watch manufacturers Rotherham & Sons. Famous sons and daughters include the poet Philip Larkin, author Lee Child, and pioneering musician Delia Derbyshire, best-known for creating the Doctor Who theme tune. 

Paisley

The town of Paisley actually has a rich cultural heritage. In the 19th century, the weavers of Paisley were the foremost producers of woollen shawls, which originated from Kashmir. The pattern that decorated them is still popular around the world today.

Artists who have emerged from Paisley include multi-million selling singer Paulo Nutini and Hollywood star Gerard Butler. Musician Gerry Rafferty spend his childhood there and would go onto write hits such as “Stuck In The Middle With You”.

Former Doctor Who star David Tennant lived there as a child, and made his professional acting debut while studying at a local school. The show’s writer Steven Moffat also hails from Paisley, as does the UK’s youngest ever MP, Mhairi Black. 

When is the winner revealed?

The announcement is being made by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on The One Show on BBC One between 7pm and 7.30pm on Thursday 7 December. 

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