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Tel Aviv-Yafo celebrates 100 years

As the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo prepares to mark its 100th anniversary in early April 2009, a wide array of events are being planned for the centennial celebrations, including outdoor festivals, art shows, sporting events, historic exhibitions and numerous community projects, among others. Celebrations will kick-off in early April, marking the date of the city's founding 100 years ago, and continue through 2009.

Tel Aviv, the first modern Hebrew city, was founded on April 11, 1909. On that day, several dozen families gathered on the sand dunes on the beach outside Yafo to allocate plots of land for a new neighborhood they called Ahuzat Bayit, later known as Tel Aviv. The city expanded rapidly with massive waves of immigration in the 1920s and 30s, also bringing about a boon in Bauhaus-style architecture. Tel Aviv's status as the region's most creative, liberal and tolerant city received was furthered when Yafo joined the municipality in 1949. Throughout the decades, the city has flourished to become Israel’s business and cultural center and has developed a unique atmosphere fusing Mediterranean and urban elements.

"One hundred years later, the vision of our city's founders - who looked at the sand dunes and saw the potential for a vibrant city - has been realized," says Mayor Ron Huldai. "Tel Aviv-Yafo is a thriving global city that 400,000 residents are proud to call home."

The centennial events open with a gala celebration in Rabin Square on 4 April, featuring a 360° rotating sound and light show, a concert by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by maestro Zubin Mehta, and performances by prominent vocalists and actors.

The city streets will host an International Marathon on 24 April (42k, 10k and 5k races), while the city's beaches will host spectators for the International RS:X Class European Windsurfing Championship, (10-20 June) which is expected to draw hundreds of surfers worldwide, including recent Olympic medalists.

Tel Aviv's annual White Night celebration will take on a particularly festive air on 27 May, reviving the spirit of the city from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The White City complex, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) will be reenacted on Rothschild Boulevard with the help of actors, costumes, scenery, and even stagecoaches; the Carmel Market will remain open all night and a special photography exhibit documenting the market's history will be on display; the nearby Nahalat Binyamin will host an all-night arts and crafts fair - all this plus the regular all-night entertainment, restaurants, cafes and bars.

The Blue Festival in Jaffa, 17-18 June, will celebrate Mediterranean culture, music and food, with events taking place in the recently-renovated port, parks and streets of Jaffa.

The summer highlight will take place on 16 July in Yarkon Park - the free, open-air performance of Verdi’s Requiem by the prestigious La Scala Opera House, in Israel for the first time. Other free musical happenings include the Saturday night jazz and classical music concerts in the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center piazza through July and August.

Teens have fun during August with their own city-wide Teen Festival that will include pop concerts, sports activities, dance parties and other festivities.

A month-long International Art Biennale (ARTLV) will take place from September 9, showcasing contemporary works in dozens of exhibitions. Fashion Week comes to the Tel Aviv Port in October (19-22), as well as the Green Festival, a dedication of the Green Route along the Yarkon River and a centennial bike ride on 17 October.

Special events celebrating the spirit of Tel Aviv-Yafo will also be held in cities around the world, such as New York, Vienna, Copenhagen and Paris, with creation of Tel Aviv beaches in Central Park and along the banks of the Seine, the Danube and Copenhagen's canals.

In preparation for the centennial celebrations, the city has also embarked on fifteen major renovation projects highlighting many of Tel Aviv-Yafo’s gems. Among the projects: The Yafo port is being rebuilt, with a new large park added to its south; the Templar neighborhood of Sarona, across from the Kirya, is being renovated and will become a new culture and entertainment area, as will the newly restored Manshia train station on the edge of Yafo; the beachfront promenade is being extended from Bat Yam to Herzliya; the cemetery on Trumpeldor Street where many city founders are buried has been restored; and new wings are being added to the Cinemateque and Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Habima Theater is undergoing massive renovations.

For a complete list of centennial events, please see centennial website.

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