Saturday night was the opening of Lille 2004. In a nutshell it was an orchestra concert, a really short parade, then some music. The whole thing was incredibly poorly organised.
I missed the first 20 minutes of the concert, so I only heard about 10 minutes of it. There were so many people there, that it was hard to breath at times. People just packed together, then started pushing to try to get in more people. At one point I literally got lifted up off my feet and twisted around.
Then they announced that the concert was over, that everyone should turn around, and pack into the square around the opera that was already full of people.
A short parade followed. Even though Lille is the European cultural capital, the parade had nothing to do with Europe. They had two Brazilian groups, and a north African group, and a metal whale thing that shot out cold water (it was already cold out to start off with, let alone the cold water from the rusting whale). In the middle of the official parade was a group of people protesting Lille 2004 and how it was going to negatively affect culture.
Then came the "bal blanc", which were basically musical performances by different groups/DJs. They were several set up through the main city centre. The concert at the train station by Marcel et son Orchestre was cancelled after two songs because of the crushing throngs of people and number of lost children. I went to the bal blanc on Rue National, which was the techno/electronica bal. The whole street was turned into one big party, and they had various DJs playing at different places along the street. By 1h30 I was freezing cold, and decided to go home and get some sleep.
That was the opening ceremony of Lille 2004. Honestly, it was a bit of a let-down, and I was very surprised that it was so poorly organised.