Anticipation is building in Egypt ahead of Thursday's opening of Luxor's newly restored Avenue of Sphinxes in a grand spectacle of dance, light and sound.
Sections of the historical Egyptian city, formerly known as Thebes, have been closed for a procession along the 2.7-kilometre route from Luxor Temple to Karnak Temple, the country’s second most-visited site after the Pyramids of Giza.
What is the Avenue of Sphinxes event?
The grand sunset celebration will feature a parade, chariots, boats and hot-air balloons.
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is scheduled to arrive at Luxor Temple at sunset to start the parade, which will pay homage to the city and its history as a former capital of the pharaohs.
Simultaneously, three pharaonic-style boats will set sail from the eastern bank of the Nile, while the temple of Hatshepsut and the Colossi of Memnon will be lit up on the west bank.
Each boat, built for the event, pays tribute to one of Luxor's three most revered pharaonic deities – the sun god Amun Ra, the moon god Khonsu and the mother goddess Mut.
A number of hot-air balloons will float over the parade to highlight one of the most popular tourist activities in the city.
Hundreds of Luxor residents have been practising the parade for months. The rehearsals lasted well past midnight on Wednesday, with blaring orchestral music ringing out throughout the city as sound engineers made their final checks.
The start of the procession will be marked by a performance from the Egyptian Philharmonic Orchestra, which will play the anthem of Amun Ra.
Egyptian pop star Mohamed Hamaky is also expected to debut a song dedicated to Luxor, accompanied by dancing.
How to watch the Luxor Avenue of Sphinxes event?
The National will stream the event live on the website and social media channels. The entire celebration will be broadcast live by local television channels and streamed online via the tourism ministry’s various platforms.
The parade was the country’s top trending topic on Twitter on Thursday, with tens of thousands of social media users expected to follow events.
Why is Egypt hosting the Luxor Avenue of Sphinxes event?
The procession marks the reopening of the renovated Avenue of Sphinxes and temples at the site in Luxor and officials hope the grand spectacle to showcase Egypt's historic monuments will reinvigorate tourism after the coronavirus pandemic shut down international travel last year.
Ahead of the event, hotels in the city reported being fully booked for the first time in months.
The celebration is modelled on Cairo's Royal Mummies Parade that took place in April. The procession through the capital transported 22 ancient mummies from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation.