Mons 2015, the metamorphosis of a city – In 2015 I am from Mons, and you?

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More than 100,000 people took part in the opening celebration of Mons 2015 on 24 January. The day was a massive success for the organisers, and an excellent start for what promises to be a year extremely rich in cultural events of all types and for all tastes.

A year begins

Illumination was the theme of the evening. Conceived as a very festive and grand opening, the launch showcased Mons' most beautiful and attractive features. From immersive installations to fireworks displays, glittering parades and a huge concert that lasted all night long, there was a huge range of events on offer across the city.

Illumination is also the focus of the first season of Mons 2015 that spans from January to March. Highlights are set to include the exhibition "Van Gogh in the Borinage – The birth of an artist", open until 17 May, and the VIA International Festival, that mixes performing arts and new technologies, on show from 13 to 25 March.

The impressive Sainte-Waudru Collegiale hosted the official part of the opening. In her speech, Belgian EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen highlighted how the original aim of this EU initiative, born 30 years ago, is still very much valid. Bringing people together around the core values of the European Union through the universal language of art and culture remains central to the European Capital of Culture.

Mons transformed

Mons' Mayor Elio di Rupo emphasised the European dimension of the event and how it plays part of a wider strategy to transform the Hainaut region into a digital valley. The aim is to provide the region's inhabitants with renewed pride and hope.

With over 300 events and a thousand cultural and artistic activities – including some in unusual public spaces –, five new museums, two new concert halls, as well as new types of civil participation and innovative digital opportunities, Mons 2015 will reinvent the city and intends to connect art and technology.

Mons shares the European Capital of Culture title with Pilsen. The Czech city launched its programme on 17 January.

Photo: Mons2015

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