Derry, Norwich, Birmingham and Sheffield have been shortlisted
The final four cities hoping to be named the UK's first city of culture in 2013 have been revealed.
The cities chosen by an independent judging panel are Birmingham, Derry, Norwich and Sheffield, with a winner due to be announced in the summer.
The competition aims to build on the success of Liverpool, which was European Capital of Culture in 2008.
It is expected that the successful city will see economic and social benefits which could leave a lasting legacy.
Culture Minister Margaret Hodge congratulated the four cities, which were taken from a shortlist of 14 bidders in December.
The panel was influenced by the expected step change each city was asked to envisage, if they gained the title and subsequent media spotlight
Chair of advisory panel
"It's a testament to their hard work - and dedication to culture - that they've come so far in what has proven to be a very tough competition.
"I'm really pleased that we attracted such a strong and varied field. It just goes to show the richness of culture across the UK," she said.
The other 10 cities should "take heart" from what they had achieved and "continue to work on creating a cultural offer which can be enjoyed by all," she added.
Phil Redmond, chair of the independent advisory panel which made its recommendations to Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw, said making the selection had been a "stimulating but difficult task".
"The panel was influenced by the expected step change each city was asked to envisage, if they gained the title and subsequent media spotlight.
"It was a hard choice but also heartening that all bidders had recognised the power of culture to bring people together; to work collectively within existing resources for a common goal and bring into being networks that may not have existed before," he said.
The panel also includes the former controller of BBC Northern Ireland, Anna Carragher, and Culture Show presenter Lauren Laverne.