Balloons, Beethoven, Peter Gabriel to mark 25 years since fall of Berlin Wall

Pieces of the former Berlin Wall stand on the grounds of the "Neu West" (New West) arts area in Berlin on Oct 12, 2014. Germany will throw a giant street party next month to mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. -- PHOTO: AFP
Pieces of the former Berlin Wall stand on the grounds of the "Neu West" (New West) arts area in Berlin on Oct 12, 2014. Germany will throw a giant street party next month to mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. -- PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN, (AFP) - Germany will throw a giant street party next month to mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall with light shows, Beethoven and a rendition of David Bowie's Cold War hit "Heroes".

Techno beats, rock anthems and on-stage talks by former anti-communist dissidents will be part of the festivities to mark the anniversary of November 9, 1989, when people power spelt the death-knell of East Germany.

"With the street festival, we will celebrate the peaceful revolution and the fall of the Wall," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters on Tuesday. "We will be thinking of the many courageous and determined people whose persistent protests made possible the happy events of November 9, 1989 and, subsequently, German unity."

On that day East German border guards, overwhelmed by large crowds, threw open the gates to West Berlin, allowing free passage through the detested barrier for the first time since it was built in 1961 and spelling the beginning of the end of the Iron Curtain.

To mark the anniversary, British singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel will perform "Heroes", which Bowie recorded in a studio close to the Wall in 1977 when he was living in then West Berlin.

Entertainment will range from the Berlin State Orchestra to a breakdance troupe and Leipzig techno musician Paul Kalkbrenner.

Also on stage will be veteran German rock singer Udo Lindenberg, whose 1983 hit "Sonderzug nach Pankow" (Special train to Pankow) mocked East Germany's last leader Erich Honecker for denying him permission to perform.

Celebrations will kick off two days earlier with the launch of ambitious art project featuring 8,000 illuminated white balloons pegged to the ground along a 15-kilometre (nine-mile) stretch of the Wall's former path.

On November 9, the balloons will be released from their ropes and symbolically set free into the night sky, to the stirring sounds of Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Former East German dissidents will speak about life in the East and the night everything changed - among them singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann, author and filmmaker Freya Klier and Berlin politician Ulrike Poppe.

"The party mood that night was genuine and insane," recalled Dresden-born TV star and director Jan Josef Liefers, who will host the show. "I thought, hopefully everything will stay so joyful!"

Berlin city government spokesman Richard Meng predicted "it will be an emotional weekend when Berliners get to celebrate the happiest day in the city's recent history".

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up a Christian pastor's daughter in the East, is set to inaugurate a new permanent exhibition at the Berlin Wall Memorial.