The lucky places stood out from a group of 12 who all battled to prove they were worthy of the honour.
The six are:
These places are automatically given the title of Centres of Culture.
The award is likely to be worth a lot of money to the final winner. The UK's last City of Culture, Glasgow in 1990, saw a massive increase in tourism from winning the title.
A 12-person government team chose these cities, from an original list of 12 places.
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said the competition had "brought out the very best" in the cities which had entered.
The judging team will now revisit the final six cities before making its decision for the Department of Culture.