THE three-day United Nations World Tourism Organisation end of year music extravaganza dubbed "Countdown Tourism Night" started in earnest on Saturday night in the resort town of Victoria Falls, with sterling performances by some of Zimbabwe's most celebrated artistes.
The music gala started with the UNWTO Tourism Night sponsored by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority featuring Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Winky D, Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave, Sulumani Chimbetu, Sandra Ndebele and Mbare Chimurenga Choir before a packed Chinotimba Stadium.
Entry was free.
The entertainment extravaganza which runs into the New Year with three consecutive nights of music song and dance also featured South African singer Zahara.
Last night Oliver Mtukudzi was expected to carry the crown into 2013.
Entertainment started with a massive roadshow and street carnival that sent business in the town to a standstill.
The tourism night was held to celebrate through song and dance the growth and development of the tourism sector and the countdown to the co-hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly by Zambia and Zimbabwe in August next year.
Winky D and Alick Macheso stole the show.
Winky D, now lovingly referred to as the "Ninja President" by his legion of fans, pedrformed with a live band.
From the outset, Winky D's high-energy whipped fans into a frenzy as he belted out tune after tune.
Throughout his act, Winky D had the over 10 000 crowd on its feet and received rapturous cheers whenever he finished a track.
Winky D, alias "Bigiman", hit the stage in grand style wearing his trademark woollen hat, a pair of denim jeans and sneakers.
"Now hear dat," he said as he emerged from backstage amid loud cheers.
He opened his set with the track "Champion" but it was not long before he called for an encore.
Later, the momentum picked up and he ignited the packed stadium with a beautiful display of his lyrical venom choosing some of his best hits including "Takaipa Takaipa", "Green Like Mi Garden", "Mumba Mababa" and "Controversy".
Needless to say, he let the crowd sing along to his chart toppers "Vanotura" and "Musarova Bigiman".
The Kambuzuma-born singer came prepared for the showdown and he did not disappoint for a minute and when he finished his set the crowd was left asking for more.
And much to the excitement of the crowd, Winky D was called back to the stage by Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Engineer Walter Mzembi, who asked the crowd if they still wanted him to perform.
And obviously, the crowd went, "Winky, Winky, Winky."
Engineer Mzembi then told the crowd that the Ninja President would be back in the resort town during the Easter holidays.
His act made fans forget about Air Force of Zimbabwe dance troupe, Energy Mutodi, Sandra Ndebele, Mbare Chimurenga Choir and Victoria Falls-based artiste Blessing "Buju" Nyagwaya who had performed earlier.
However, Ndebele had great moments on stage. So did Mbare Chimurenga Choir.
Then came Jah Prayzah, the artiste who has done well in making headlines in Zimbabwe lately mainly because of the great talent he has portrayed with his lively band. With his trademark "red combat -, red shirt, red trousers, black military boots and a black beret -- he played hits such as "Gochi Gochi", "Sungano", "Sorry Mamma", just to name a few.
After Jah Prayzah came Fungisai Zvakavapano- Mashavave.
She also did not disappoint either but the crowd queried why a gospel artiste was made to perform well into the programme instead of at the beginning.
After Mashavave came Suluman Chimbetu, the "Sean Timba" hitmaker, who did not disappoint either.
Sulu went on stage around 3:30am delivering a flawless act that left revellers asking for more.
He performed his hit songs such as "Sean Timba" and "Njiva", off his latest album, "Syllabus".
The album has catapulted him to new heights with some of his fans saying that the young man is coming of age and is slowly evolving to match his late father, Simon.
With Allan Chimbetu alongside, the two great musicians showed off their well-choreographed dances and vocal backing abilities much to the delight of the fans.
Then it was the time that the crowd was waiting for, Jah Prayzah came back to the stage for a duet with Suluman on the song "Sean Timba".
The two artistes did not disappoint.
Then it was time for the evergreen Alick Macheso, who gave a sterling performance.
Macheso came on the stage around 5am much to the excitement of the crowd that had stayed all night to see his performance.
It was, however, Macheso's modified frontline that won the hearts of most fans as they rocked fans with a continuously energetic act.
New kid on the block Forward Antonio thrilled fans as he gelled with other dancers and has actually fitted well into the fired Peter Kagomera's shoes.
There was also a six-year-old boy who went onto the stage and even left Macheso dumfounded as he matched him on some of his dance routines.
To show appreciation to a future dancer, Macheso gave the boy US$50.
The "Madhawu" hitmaker, affectionately known as "Extrabasso" by his fans, also delighted his fans with his latest dance called "Kochekera".
He also played songs such as "Macharangwanda" and "Madhawu".