VIENNA : The Austrian capital of Vienna bid farewell to the iconic ''Life Balls Aids'' charity fundraiser on Saturday as the extravagant costumes and celebrity guests take over the city's town hall for the last time.

Launched by former make-up artist Gery Keszier, among others, the ball has raised around 30 million euros [$34 million] for anti-Aids causes within Austria and abroad since its first edition in 1993, organisers say.

Keszler announced last month that this year's edition of the ball would be the last due to lack of funding.

This year's motto is ''United in Diversity'' , with costumes inspired by the worlds of magic and circus performers and the square in front of the town hall transformed into a fairground.

Austrian Eurovision winner and drag star Conchita Wurst will be one of the 'ringmasters' of the evening, with the opening ceremony scheduled to begin at 9.30 pm.

Among the stars walking down the red carpet with be actresses Lindsay Lohan, Katie Holmes and Kelly Osbourne.

In line with Vienna's more traditional balls, there will be 200 ''debutantes'' , but in keeping with the commitment to diversity, the age limit was raised to 75.

Keszler said on Friday that he saw this year's event as ''in some ways a last testament.'' It takes me back to the first Life Ball and brings a lot of emotion,'' he told the daily, Die Presse.

Rooted firmly in activism among Vienna's LGBT community, the Life Ball has become one of the world's biggest Aids charity events over the past three decades., attracting up to 45,000 guests and on-lookers a year.

Regular tickets cost 180 euros , but tickets with red carpet and VIP access can go as high as 550 euros and 990 euros.

The Life Ball also became something of a jet-set fixture , with Elton John, Naomi Campbell and Vivienne Westwood just a few of the famous names to have attended over the years. [AFP]


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