Explosion of artistic events planned
IRISH artists plan to showcase their talents across Europe in an extravaganza of cultural events between now and June to mark the Irish presidency of the EU.
They will bring their opera to Latvia, dance to Estonia, literature to Prague, music to Hungary and their films to the Czech Republic, Malta, Poland and Slovenia. At home, May 1 - the day when the 10 new states officially join the Union - has been declared a "Day of Welcomes" and the whole weekend will become one of national celebration.
On the Friday evening, Dublin will host a massive fireworks spectacle. The next day, St Stephen's Green will be transformed into a "European Fair", expected to attract over 100,000 visitors.
At the same time, 10 towns and cities countrywide will individually welcome a specific new EU state with a festival of events. In Dublin's O'Connell Street, a major concert of Irish and international stars will be broadcast live throughout Europe. And for the two weeks leading up to the Day of Welcomes people from all over the country are invited to light up the sky with individually designed, computerised light shows.
The designs will shine out from dusk to dawn every night from 18 searchlights on buildings in O'Connell Street changing to a new scene every six seconds. The programme kicks off this weekend with a rock concert by Bell X1 in Prague.