The city will hope to see an economic boost from the accolade which is handed out every four years.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said: “This is brilliant news for Hull and everyone involved in the bid there.
“This year’s UK City of Culture, Derry-Londonderry, demonstrates the huge benefits that the title brings. These include encouraging economic growth, inspiring social change and bringing communities together.
“It can produce a wonderful mix of inward investment, and civic pride, and I hope Hull’s plans will make the most of all that being UK City of Culture can bring.”
Ms Miller praised the three losing cities for the “time, effort and determination” they put into their bids.
She said: “I hope they will still take forward many of the fantastic ideas and events they had planned so that their communities can enjoy these innovative cultural plans.”
TV producer Phil Redmond, who chaired the advisory panel that helped choose the winner, said all four shortlisted cities showed a “real understanding” of what the award was about.
He said: “But ultimately it was the unanimous verdict of the panel that Hull put forward the most compelling case based on its theme as ‘a city coming out of the shadows’. This is at the heart of their project and reminds both its people and the wider world of both its cultural past and future potential.
“We were particularly impressed with Hull’s evidence of community and creative engagement, their links to the private sector and their focus on legacy, including a commitment to enhance funding beyond 2017 and I’d like to congratulate all involved.”
The current city of culture, Londonderry, has seen visitor numbers double over the course of this year and had around £120 million of capital investment pumped into the city since the title was won in 2009.
Its mayor, Councillor Martin Reilly, said: “I am confident that an amazing year awaits Hull as the winning city for 2017, I wish them every success and look forward to forming a working relationship with Hull to share our experiences and learning.”
VisitEngland’s chief executive, James Berresford, said the announcement was “fantastic”.
“This cultural badge of honour is a tremendous opportunity for Hull to thrive as a tourist destination and attract important inward investment, and VisitEngland looks forward to helping with this,” he said.
“I wish Hull all the best in maximising the potential of the city’s cultural heritage and look forward to the many celebrations and events to come as a result.”
Former Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, who holds the ceremonial post of High Steward of Hull, said it would give “a huge lift” to the city.
“I have felt it was going Hull’s way for some time but there was always a risk of success being snatched away at the last minute,” he said.
“Hull will rise to the occasion and the great opportunity the city has been given.”