The eighth and final venue for the UEFA European Championships 2012 has been officially opened in style as thousands of people attended a free music festival.

More than 40,000 people turned up at the National Stadium Warsaw in Poland for the special event. The new 50,000-seater venue lies on the site of the old Tenth Anniversary Stadium, which had had stood there since 1955.

The old stadium was primarily used for football, but it also hosted athletics and cycling, and, in 1983, Pope John Paul II gave mass to a congregation of 100,000. It held its last international that year but then fell into disrepair, and since 1989 it had been home to a bazaar.

"I am very happy that the National Stadium has been finally unveiled," Poland's tournament director, Adam Olkowicz told "It's the biggest Polish venue for this year's final tournament. On 8 June, we will witness the opening ceremony here followed by the first match between Poland and Greece.

"I hope that Poland's players play to their best, with the backing of thousands of local supporters. As of now, all of the EURO venues in Poland and Ukraine are ready and we are working hard to prepare them for this big festival of football."

The ceremony ended with a spectacular fireworks display and will have to wait until 11 February until it hosts its first football match. And will certainly be an exciting one – a Polish Super Cup encounter between Legia Warszawa and Wisła Krakow.

The National Stadium Warsaw is one of five venues constructed especially for this summer's final tournament, along with the Arena Gdansk, Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, Arena Lviv and Kyiv's Olympic Stadium. The Municipal Stadium Poznan and Metalist Stadium have been revamped while the Donbass Arena, home of FC Shakhtar Donetsk, opened in August 2009.

Posted on 29/01/2012