In Portugal, partying got under way on the birthday morning, with nine of Lisbon's most important palaces opening their doors to the public. Other celebrations continued late into the night, including the Portuguese festival O que nos toca , where more than 240 Portuguese bands played in towns up and down the country, opening their concerts with a rendition of the European anthem. In Lisbon the show went on with a free open-air concert of traditional Portuguese music, featuring the metropolitan orchestra. The day's events wound up with an amazing fireworks display that lit up the skies above Lisbon.
For European cinema buffs, Malta held a successful and well-attended 9th European film festival, while the special film on post-war Franco-German reconciliation How we hated each other! , broadcast in Belgium and France, reached an audience of 3.8m.
In Dublin on 23 March, British reporter Jonathan Dimbleby presented a special 50th anniversary edition of the popular radio programme "Any Questions?" , with the programme so popular it was repeated the next day.
Looking to the future, Europe’s children have been the focus of many celebrations, with Edinburgh’s poster competition and Nicosia’s flag-raising ceremony just two examples.
And European commissioners made sure they did not miss out on the fun. On the eve of the anniversary, employment and social affairs commissioner Vladimír Špidla ran the Prague international marathon. The day before, external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner had driven through the streets of Vienna on the “Europa-Bim”, a tram decorated with the EU50 logo.
As with all anniversaries, birthday cakes featured heavily. In Dublin, internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy blew out the candles on a giant EU cake weighing over 80 kilos. And in pedestrian areas of Danish cities, some 6,000 people were given cakes decorated with small European flags.