STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Nobel laureates congregated in the Swedish capital Stockholm on Saturday for the first fully in-person award ceremonies complete with a formal banquet since the COVID-19 pandemic that curtailed events in the past two years.
The ceremony starts at 1500 GMT and features glamorous formal wear, with the men in white tie and tails and women in flowing gowns and elegant hairdos. Ceremonies in 2020 and 2021 were scaled back and there was no banquet.
Many laureates from 2020 and 2021 will be attending this year as well as the 2022 winners - last year for example there was a ceremony but no laureates attended as they received their medals in their home countries.
Throughout this week the laureates have taken part in activities ranging from panel discussions to news conferences, finding time to visit schools and give lectures and attend a lights show.
"Given the challenges the world faces, it feels especially important to highlight Alfred Nobel's idea of international community," said Vidar Helgesen, executive director of the Nobel Foundation.
Five of the six Nobel prizes are awarded in Stockholm every year after a nomination process that is kept secret for the next 50 years. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo where separate festivities are held.
Dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel left around 31 million crowns - about 1.8 billion crowns ($174.2 million) in today's money according to the Foundation - to fund prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace awarded annually since 1901.
Among the laureates for 2022 is a former chairman of U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, who won the Nobel Economics Prize along with economists Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig for research on how propping up failing banks can stave off an even deeper economic crisis.
The economics prize is a later addition to the original line-up, instituted by the Swedish central bank.
After the ceremony, there is a banquet in City Hall, attended by Sweden's royal family, government officials and dignitaries and business leaders from different countries.
Swedish political party leaders are always invited to the banquet. However Jimmie Akesson, leader of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, which became the country's second biggest party in an election in September election, was left off the guest list, with his party not deemed to be in keeping with the prizes' tenets.
The Nobel Foundation has also snubbed the ambassadors of Russia and Belarus, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Jailed Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, Russian rights group Memorial and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties won the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
($1 = 10.3329 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Frances Kerry)