Rural tourism and farming bosses have launched a bid for the countryside to be the 2013 City of Culture.

Farm Stay UK, the National Trust and the NFU are lobbying the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the grounds that the countryside is culturally rich but needs support to showcase all that it has to offer.

“We are instigating a bid for The UK City of Culture 2013 as we know the countryside has just as much to offer culturally as any city in the UK,” said Andy Woodward, chief executive of Farm Stay UK.

“The countryside has culture, heritage, the arts and some of the finest sporting events and venues in the world, many of which are National Trust properties.  We have tremendous music festivals, be they pop or classical, open air theatre and every type of recreation. 

“We have the full range of accommodation from traditional farmhouse B & B to luxury stately home hotels and chic country inns, from quirky self catering cottages to yurts, tipis and wigwams.  Add to this a stunning sky line and you have the perfect mix of natural landscape and culture.”       

Jo Burgon, Head of Access & Recreation at the National Trust, added: “The countryside has provided the inspiration for some of the world’s finest art, music and literature.  It could easily be argued that the cultural contribution of a countryside area such as the Lake District far outweighs that of any UK city. 

“Today the countryside acts as inspiration for millions of visitors each year, providing a landscape of culture packed with cultural activities.  The countryside is an important part of UK culture that is frequently overlooked, which is why we are keen to back this bid.”

NFU Director of Policy Martin Haworth said: “Winning the City of Culture would reflect the wealth of cultural opportunities that are already available in our rural towns and villages, as well as bring much-needed investment to build on existing success.”

Although the original intention had been to submit an application for the countryside as a whole, DCMS guidelines state that applications have to be led by specific local authorities.

Farm Stay UK says it is testing the water to see if there are rural local authorities – from each corner of the country – that would like to team up to put forward a bid.

What do you think of the idea. Are there counties that would be particularly good?