As many as one million young people from all over the world are arriving in the Spanish city of Madrid for the World Youth Day Festival. Most of them will spend a week at the event, which runs from Tuesday to Sunday and is organised by the Catholic Church, but open to people from all faiths.
One visitor, Adriana Machado from Brazil, said she expects great things from the festival and is looking forward to the moment when she will get to meet the Pope in person.
Others were more excited about the atmosphere of being with people from more than 190 countries. Paul Midlight from Australia said: “It’s going to be pretty special. I can’t imagine how many people. Already the vibe is amazing.”
However, the event is also drawing criticism from those who say the city cannot afford to host the event because of the state of the Spanish economy. Estimates of the cost go as high as almost 60 million euros.
Officials say most of the costs will be covered by the young people themselves. In addition, Pope Benedict XVI is due to visit the festival, and a papal visit could be a financial boost for Madrid, say organisers.