Under the cultural programme of the Irish Presidency of the EU, which I launched on 7 January last, each of the new member states will be officially welcomed into the EU by an Irish city or town in a special day of welcomes on Saturday, 1 May. The participating towns and cities are Bray, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Killarney, Galway, Sligo, Letterkenny, Drogheda and Kilkenny. This day will be at the heart of the national celebrations that will involve each of the ten towns and cities hosting distinct and engaging 'European Fairs'. A fireworks extravaganza in Dublin will commence celebrations in the capital on Friday, 30 April.
Dublin will also see Merrion Square transformed into a colourful bazaar with marquees, stands and stages making up 'The European Fair' on Saturday, 1 May. It is expected that over 100,000 visitors will pass through the fair over the weekend to enjoy the experience of unique and interesting produce from the new EU member states and participate in this fun cultural activity.
A major concert of Irish and international stars will take place in Dublin on the evening 1 May and will be a highlight of the weekend. The concert will be produced by RTE and the BBC.
From 22 April until 3 May, there will be a presentation of Vectorial Elevation, one of the most unique and the world's largest on-line artworks. Some 24 searchlights will be located on and over the buildings in O'Connell Street. Every six seconds, from dusk to dawn, a new design will be rendered on the sky for all to see while a large screen will display the signature and comments of the author.
The total projected costs for these celebratory events is €2.144 million.