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2011: a year for celebration in Reims

This year, the French cathedral town of Reims has good reason to celebrate. Notre Dame de Reims, the cathedral where the kings of France were once crowned, is celebrating its 800th anniversary, and from mid April until late October, the town is making a spectacle of itself.

April 15, 2011
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The eighth centenary of Our Lady of Reims is focusing the spotlight on on of the most important Gothic buildings in France and concerts, parades, street performances, exhibitions, presentations and a fantastic light show are all planned as part of the celebrations. The programme of events will be in keeping with the reputation of this extraordinary work of architecture, which has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for twenty years.

From April 15th to October 23rd, homage is being paid to the construction workers of the past – the stonemasons, bricklayers, sculptors and painters who contributed to this architectural marvel. But the workers of today will not be overlooked as, this weekend, 16th and 17th of April, the city is proudly inaugurating a new tramway system and setting in motion the 'Reims 2020' urban project.

Highlights of the programme of activities for the months ahead include Les Mecaniques Savantes ('the expert mechanics'), under the auspices of the company La Machine. The show will include a giant machine -  the likes of which has never before been seen in France – some 13 metres high and 20 metres broad, with water, fire, snow and wind effects as well as musical accompaniment. The machine will be on hand at the opening of the tramway and will then be installed in the forecourt of the cathedral until May 8th.

The main event will be Reve de couleurs ('dream of colours'), a high definition polychromatic display that will be projected onto the cathedral facade and allow the original colours of the decoration to be appreciated. This display will take place every day from May 6th through to October 23rd at dusk. It will last for around 30 to 30 minutes and will be repeated two or three times an evening.

Other activities include the Flaneries musicales ('promenades') which will start on June 17th with a concert in the cathedral, and the inauguration on June 25th of the new stained glass windows created by the German artist Imi Knoebel.

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