Tel Aviv has officially declared 2012 as 'Art Year' and has organized a massive weekend celebration to kick off the 12 months of cultural extravaganza.

Launched as a cooperative effort between the municipality and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on the occasion of three new cultural buildings (at the museum, the Habima National Theater and the Tel Aviv Cinematheque) 'Art Year' aims to bring the many artistic endeavors and happenings in the city into the public fold.

The weekend of March 21-24 will be particularly rich in cultural events, with a 24-hour marathon at the Tel Aviv Aviv Museum of Art, and exhibits at numerous galleries and spaces across the city. The work of young artists will be on display at cafes and restaurants, and the general public can also take part in a number of interactive events, including Tel Aviv art tours, Gaga dance lessons and a range of musical performances.

The official opening event of Art Year will take place on Saturday March 24, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art grounds, with what organizers have described as "a multidisciplinary, one-of-a-kind encounter between musical performances, digital art, screenings of video art and animation, displays, and interactive installations, showcased at 15 different hubs of activity at the city's art complex."

A huge party will be held later Saturday evening and will feature performances by some of Israel's most up-and-coming musical groups, including Izabo, the band set to represent the country at the Eurovision contest.

For more information, check out the official Art Year website and City Mouse Online's Hebrew coverage of the events.