Plzen - known as the Czech capital of beer - has been officially inaugurated as the European Capital of Culture for 2015.
Some 15,000 people packed a central square to watch the opening show involving some 150 local and foreign artists.
The western Czech city, which gave the world the golden "pilsner" lager in 1842, is otherwise mostly known for its football, ice hockey clubs and industry.
Under the artistic leadership of Petr Forman, the son of film director Milos Forman, some 600 cultural events have been prepared for visitors during the year, including concerts, exhibitions and performances aimed at showing the city has more to offer.
Plzen shares the title given to cities that "contribute to the values of European culture" with Mons in Belgium.