German autobahn closes for giant street festival

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Germany closed a long swath of its fabled autobahn to cars and trucks Sunday to make way for a giant street festival along what organisers called the world's longest table.

Cleared of its usual traffic jams and engine exhaust, the 60-kilometre-long (40-mile-long) stretch of one of Europe's busiest motorways, between the western cities of Dortmund and Duisburg, became a stream of pedestrians and cyclists.

An estimated one million visitors are expected to pass by 20,000 picnic tables lined up end-to-end in what organisers dubbed a record-breaking moveable feast of "everyday life and culture".

"The motto of the Still-Life event is 'The table is your stage'," event spokeswoman Katharina Jarzombek said.

"Anybody can showcase their band, their hobby, their club or their group of friends."

Among the participants from the United States, Japan and across Europe was a club of "Star Wars" fans putting on a tribute to the science fiction blockbusters and a brass combo called Tuba Libre.

The event is a highlight in the Ruhr 2010 European Capital of Culture festivities, which has seen Germany's rust belt region transformed into a hotbed of the arts with hundreds of concerts, plays and exhibitions planned throughout the year.

© 2010 AFP

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