ATHENS: Athens will throw a citywide party for the Olympics every night of the Games.
Mayor Dora Bakoyianni promised on Wednesday to stage the biggest outdoor entertainment blitz in Athens history, with more than 500 concerts and live performances together with art exhibitions, puppet shows and acts from 34 countries.
We want to create a festive feel across the entire city, Bakoyianni said.
Athens will try to combine recollections of ancient myths and history with its modern reality ... The whole city will be one large party.
Sculptures and other artwork will be displayed along a cobblestone walkway linking the Acropolis to the citys other main ancient sites like the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the ancient marketplace.
And at 22 of the citys squares, Greek artists, filling in the genres between mountain folk music and techno, will join Dutch jazz players, dancers from Saudi Arabia, acrobats from South Korea and chefs handing out Polish pierogis.
The ambitious plan was announced as Athens tries to shake off months of gloom caused by a massive surge in construction to beat urgent delays and international fears of a possible terrorist attack during the Aug 13-29 Games.
The problems have hurt holiday bookings by tourists a vital source of income for Greece and left more than half the Olympic tickets unsold nearly three weeks before the Games begin.
Some organisers have also expressed concern that a major security operation, involving patrols of 70,000 police and soldiers and widespread electronic surveillance through street cameras and helicopters, could spoil the citys atmosphere.
But Bakoyianni urged visitors to forget Athens troubles and join the fun.
In 23 days Athens, our city, will host the biggest of all festivities, she said.
Its the first time so many Greek artists will take part in such a big outdoor event ... all these people who create, have concerns, and take initiatives will be working together to change the atmosphere and the character of our city.
In total, the citys four-hour nightly parties will involve 600 artists and performers, shows will be seen on 13 stages to be set up around the city, and the works of 85 sculptors and artists will be on display.
The art shows and some festivities will continue through the Sept 17-28 Paralympics. AP