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Lifestyle

Beijing to hold biggest ever Games cultural festival

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing will host the biggest-ever Olympic cultural festival around August’s Summer Games, with thousands of performers taking part in hundreds of events, an official said on Tuesday.

Chinese performers display Olympic mascots during the "Welcome Ceremony for the Olympic Flame and the Launching Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay" at Tiananmen Square in Beijing March 31, 2008. Beijing will host the biggest-ever Olympic cultural festival around August's Summer Games, with thousands of performers taking part in hundreds of events, an official said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

Musicians, singers and dancers from China and the rest of the world would give nearly 300 performances in the Chinese capital and other co-host cities from June 23 to September 17, the director of the Beijing organizers’ culture division said.

China has been holding festivals linked to the 2008 Olympics every year in Beijing since 2003. These have included film showings, song competitions, exhibitions as well as some of the major landmarks in Games preparations such as the launch of the mascots.

This year’s sixth festival would be the biggest of the lot, Zhao Dongming said.

“We believe it will be ... the richest and most diverse in Olympic history, a festival of culture, of the Olympics and of the people,” he told reporters.

“This Olympic Cultural Festival will last the longest, involve the largest number of performers and enjoy the highest standard of any cultural activity we’ve organized.”

The festival would include performances from Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan, Italian pop tenor Andrea Bocelli and British soprano Sarah Brightman, Zhao added.

“All the tickets will be priced reasonably and ordinary people will be able to watch these performances,” he said.

Anyone who not able to get a ticket for one of the performances will be able to see it on one of more than 20 big screens around the city, where sports fans will also be able to watch the Games.

Zhao also promised a spectacular gala to mark the 100-day countdown to the Olympics on April 30 with performances of the 30 songs in the running to become the official song of the Beijing Games.

organizers had discussed and dismissed the kind of SMS text message vote that proved popular with millions of Chinese in the “Supergirl” television program -- a local take on the Western “Pop Idol” and “American Idol” franchises.

“How to select from the thousands of songs is very technical,” he said. “Therefore we organized a panel of experts. But at the same time we pay attention to the feedback from the people.”

(Additional reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by Valerie Lee)

Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at blogs.reuters.com/china

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