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Axe-travaganza! Air guitar festival strikes a chord for 15th year

By Ed Payne, CNN
  • The World Air Guitar Championships are being held for the 15th year
  • Competitors from over 20 countries take part
  • Air guitar playing promotes world peace, organizers say

(CNN) -- It used to be that air guitar was the exclusive domain of zit-faced teenage boys in the privacy of their rooms -- and maybe that's where it should have stayed.

But it's mainstream now, with air shredders plying their trade on phantom guitars in international competition, strutting, cartwheeling and windmilling their way across the stage before ravenous fans like over-enthusiastic versions of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and James Hetfield.

The Air Guitar World Championships are taking place this week in Oulu, Finland. Not for the first time either, this is the 15th anniversary edition.

If mop tops are more your cup of tea, the International Beatle Week Festival is underway in Liverpool, England.

Bands from across the globe will be playing the music of the Fab Four in the Cavern Club, where the Beatles got their start.

Back in Finland, the four-day axe-travaganza includes a dark horse competition, an air guitar parade and grand final, in which the champion is declared "the airiest of them all." The winner takes home the real thing: a Flying Finn electric guitar.

Lest you think the event is all frivolity: "The purpose of the Air Guitar World Championships is to promote world peace," the organizers say.

"According to the ideology of the Air Guitar, wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear, if all the people in the world played the Air Guitar," the event's web page says. "This is why the whole universe is invited to play the Air Guitar for the world peace at the end of the competition."

No really, this is serious business. They wouldn't string you along.