The world's largest gathering of Catholic youth -- World Youth Day -- is taking place in Cologne, Germany in August 2005. Various projects and events are planned in the run-up to the festival celebrations.
One million people are expected to attend World Youth Day
World Youth Day, which was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. No less than one million young people between the age of 16 and 30, from more than 120 countries, are expected to attend.
Benedict XVI's first trip abroad as pope is actually a homecoming
The city of Cologne is also looking forward to the first foreign trip of Pope Benedict XVI. In his first sermon as the newly elected leader of the Catholic Church, Benedict promised he would attend World Youth Day, the central events of which span the week from Aug. 16 - 21.
Early start on Aug. 11
Young people from all over the world will also be attending the Days of Encounter in the German dioceses from Aug. 11 - 15. The attendees, who will be hosted by local families, will have an opportunity to learn more about German culture and the Catholic Church in Germany.
The hosts and guests of the Days of Encounter will jointly take part in the Day of Social Service on Aug. 12, working on community service projects such as excursions with people with disabilities or setting up playgrounds for children.
Opening ceremony in three cities
Cologne is also knows as Domstadt -- the cathedral city
The main events of the World Youth Day will be taking place in Cologne as well as nearby cities Bonn and Düsseldorf. The opening mass on Aug. 16, for example, will take place in all three cities. The festival program will include not only spiritual and liturgical events, but also discussions and informational sessions as well as music and dance performances. The goal of the festival is to encourage personal and cross-cultural exchange among Catholic youth.
World Youth Day logo
Participants in the World Youth Day can choose from a series of so-called pilgrim packages. A full package, for example, which includes three meals a day, a public transportation pass, insurance and a pilgrim's backpack starts at 90 euros ($110). Together with accommodation for five nights, the package can be booked for 100 euros. For 40 euros, festival participants will get a transportation pass for Aug. 20-21, insurance and a pilgrim backpack.
Cologne , Bonn , Düsseldorf -- Aug. 16, 2005
Welcome Festival -- The archdiocese greets its guests
Cologne , Bonn , Düsseldorf -- Aug. 17, 2005
Music Picnic -- open air music and culinary delights
Cologne -- Aug. 18, 2005
Welcoming ceremony with Pope Benedict XVI and international world music festival