After years in the making, the European Olympic Committee has decided the time has come for Europe to have its own continental games. Find out everything you need to know about the European Games and the inaugural host city, and get ready to cheer on your country in Baku in 2015

The European Games

The European Games aim to reflect the unity and energy of the continent, as well as giving our world-class athletes another platform for competition (and all us Europeans another reason to get excited). Set to land in Baku in 2015, there’s no doubt the Games will become a firm favourite in our continental sporting calendar. So what’s on the agenda?

Held every 4 years, the European Games will be a benchmark sporting event involving the 49 Olympic nations of Europe. The inaugural games will involve over 6000 competitors and 18 sports – including a few we don’t see in the Olympics.

All the usual favourites will be on display, from aquatics to athletics and gymnastics to judo. Alongside the classic competitions, we’ll also see sports like Karate and Basketball 3×3, where host country Azerbaijan are hoping to get their hands on some silverware.

Baku – a city of contrasts

Known as the ‘Paris of the East’, diverse and beautiful Baku is the perfect place to host the first European Games. Lying on the east coast of Azerbaijan, this is a bustling capital of contrasts, striking a balance between the traditions of the old world and the opportunities of the new. Western and Eastern influences combine here, with the charms of the UNESCO heritage listed Old City sitting side-by-side with modern skyscrapers, international businesses and a vibrant, cosmopolitan culture.

Stunning scenery, a temperate climate and a strong sporting history all add to the appeal of this inaugural host city. In fact, Baku already has an array of hosting successes under its belt; more than 15 major sporting events have been held here in recent years, including World Cup and Olympic qualification tournaments.

Visiting Baku

Whilst Baku will be at the centre of the European sporting world next year, there’s plenty to see away from the stadium as well. Make sure you don’t miss some of the city’s resident highlights…

• Bay of Baku
As the largest city on the Caspian Sea, Baku is home to some spectacular water views. Its natural harbour, Baku Bay, boasts 20km of coastline – a favourite playground for locals and visitors alike. Running parallel to the seafront, Baku Boulevard is the centre point of a number of attractions including statues and monuments, an amusement park, and even a musical fountain.

• Old town

With the first written evidence of the city’s existence dating back to the 1st century AD, it’s unsurprising Baku is home to some impressive historical highlights. The biggest concentration of these can be found in the Old City of Baku, a picturesque maze-like area, complete with cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and ancient buildings and towers.

• Dining and nightlife

Centred in the Fountains Square area, Baku has a vibrant nightlife – so much so, that it was voted one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 party cities in the world. If dancing ’till dawn isn’t your quite your thing, don’t worry – there are plenty of restaurants to relax in, catering to every taste and budget.

• Museums and culture

If you’re a history buff or an art aficionado, you’ve come to the right place. Baku was designated an Islamic Culture Capital in 2009, and for good reason – a plethora of museums, galleries, festivals and cultural venues call the city home, including the Baku Museum of Modern Art, the Azerbaijan State Museum of History, the Baku International Film Festival and the Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Hall.

• World-class hotels

Baku is home to a number of internationally renowned hotels, meaning you can get your fill of rest and relaxation after taking in all the city has to offer. Situated in the heart of the business and leisure district, the Park Inn by Radisson Azerbaijan Baku boasts comfortable rooms, panoramic sea views and a chic on-site restaurant – the perfect place to base yourself whilst exploring the city’s highlights.