Kamal Hassan, actor, is likely to be the chief guest at the State-level inauguration of the Onam week celebrations of Kerala Tourism at Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium here on August 22.

The State government has written to the actor inviting him for the inaugural event that will kick off the celebrations in the State capital, district headquarters and major tourist destinations across the State. Official sources said the actor was yet to confirm his participation.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan will inaugurate the government-sponsored festival.

His Cabinet colleagues and other dignitaries will participate in the function.

As in the previous editions, the stadium will be the hub of the celebrations where mega shows will be staged by Malayalam television channels and the print medium from August 22 to 28.

At other venues in the city, cultural programmes will be staged from August 23 to 27. The celebrations will come to an end with a pageantry from Kowdiar to East Fort on August 28 evening.

As it is the last edition of the celebrations during the present Left Democratic Front regime, the authorities are trying to make the event more colourful.

The tourism authorities have decided to increase the number of venues from 16 to 18 this year with an intention of making the celebrations a people's festival.

The Veli tourist village and the P. Krishna Pillai Foundation at Nandavanam are the new additions.

Focus of the fete

Though the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium will be the hub, the Kanakakunnu Palace will be the focus of the celebrations with six venues on the sprawling palace premises.

Besides the Nishagandhi open-air auditorium, the palace auditorium and the Suryakanthi exhibition grounds, three venues will be there on the palace grounds to stage folk arts.

As in the previous years, a Panchavadyam ensemble will be staged at the main entrance of the palace in the evenings.

The Suryakanthi grounds will be the venue for a food festival and a trade fair.

The other venues of the cultural programmes include Poojappura Maidan, Theerthapada Mandapam, Sreevarahom, Akkulam, VJT Hall and Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan.

Besides these venues, the District Tourism Promotion Council will organise programmes at Aruvikkara, Neyyar Dam, Kovalam, Chirayinkeezh and Varkala. The LMS junction-Vellayambalam stretch will be illuminated.

The government offices have been asked to illuminate their buildings.

The government will provide Rs.98 lakh for the festivities in the city. As much as Rs.27 lakh more will be raised through sponsorship.

The Thiruvananthapuram District Tourism Promotion Council will get Rs.3 lakh for organising the festival and the Ernakulam and Kozhikode councils Rs.25 lakh each.

Office inaugurated

The festival office was inaugurated at Park View, headquarters of Kerala Tourism, by Tourism and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan on Monday.

V. Sivankutty, MLA, Cherian Philip, Chairman of Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Hotels and Resorts, and M. Sivasankar, Director of Tourism, were present.

The Minister reviewed the working of various committees set up for organising the event in the capital.