Berlin partied hard at EU celebrations
26 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The formal ceremonies marking European Union's 50th anniversary in Berlin have been something of sideshow for the thousands of people that have thronged the raft of popular cultural events across the city also held to mark the EU's first half century. In what is Berlin's biggest party since the city hosted last year's World Cup football championship, the sudden arrival of brilliant spring sunshine meant that Berliners and visitors to the German capital turned out in droves for
26 March 2007
Berlin (dpa) - The formal ceremonies marking European Union's 50th anniversary in Berlin have been something of sideshow for the thousands of people that have thronged the raft of popular cultural events across the city also held to mark the EU's first half century.
In what is Berlin's biggest party since the city hosted last year's World Cup football championship, the sudden arrival of brilliant spring sunshine meant that Berliners and visitors to the German capital turned out in droves for the vast array of events held to coincide with the 50th anniversary.
Moreover, the range of events, which included special late-night openings of 14 of the city's museums and all-night parties in Berlin's famed discos, also gave Germany the chance to once again showcase its reborn capital more than 17 years after Berlin Wall was swept away in a popular uprising in 1989.
One of the problems for European Union leaders throughout the EU's 50-year history has been generating a sense of enthusiasm among the union's almost 500 million citizens for the workings of the bloc and its achievements.
But with Berlin having developed a reputation as something of a party town, the people's party marking the EU celebrations kicked off with Saturday about 18,000 people heading to the city's museums which had been floodlight in European Union blue and in some cases had been enhanced by light shows.
The special museum night had been "absolutely positive" said organizer Ruth Hundsdoefer.
At the same time, about 100 DJs from across Europe oversaw the dance programme and music at Berlin's European Club Night.
But questions to those making their way around the different cultural events about the Berlin Declaration, which formed the centrepiece of the formal events, drew blanks a shrug of the shoulders or sometimes just cryptic remarks.
Meanwhile, on Saturday about half a million people stormed shops along the city's main shopping mile for the popular long-night of shopping, which was actually not part of the official EU programme.
In a country where football is part of the national cultural life, the mood in the city was further buoyed by Germany's football team successfully taking another step Saturday towards qualifying for the European championships.
As a reminder of Europe's cultural diversity, members of Berlin's large Turkish community also took to the city's streets Saturday to celebrate the Turkish national football team's victory over arch rivals, Greece.
On Sunday, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, which has emerged as a symbol of the new unified German capital, takes over for what many Berliners think will be the crowning glory of the EU's birthday celebrations with a pop concert featuring a batch of European stars, including British rock legend Joe Cocker.
The mood among partygoers as they headed to the Brandenburg Gate was somewhat upbeat, despite the rather menacing presence of a large armoured personnel carrier complete with a 14 millimetre cannon pointed over the crowd.
Also striking something of a discordant note at the party, Italian pop singer Gianna Nannini bowed out of the Brandenburg Gate concert at the last moment saying that "too many empty words" would be spoken at the celebrations.
She went on to criticise the EU members state's military involvement around the world, such as in Afghanistan, which is also the major theme of a protest also been held in the city.
In the meantime, food tents representing the EU's member states have been set up along Berlin's historic Unter den Linden boulevard leading to the Brandenburg Gate.
This gave the EU citizens the chance to sample Europe's culinary diversity from German beer and Black Forest cake through to Spanish sangria and paella, French crepes and Italian tiramisu.
The weekend events will close with fireworks over the Berlin skies.
But even after the European leaders have departed and the EU festivities have died down, the party in Berlin is likely to kick on during Sunday night with the city hosts Germany's music industry awards.
Subject: German news