The Spice Girls -- champions of "girl power" -- make their long-awaited return to the stage when they launch their world reunion tour in Vancouver tonight.

The group's glitzy arrival in the city hinted at their continued popularity, according to CTV eTalk gossip queen Elaine (Lainey) Lui.

"They were flown in directly on a Virgin Airlines flight dedicated for the tour," she told CTV British Columbia. "When they got off the plane there was a fleet of 18 SUVs waiting to take their costumes, babies, nannies and their entourage all the way to their hotel."

The group -- Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, Melanie "Sporty Spice" Chisholm, Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton and Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown -- are hoping to live up to months of hype surrounding the tour, their first since 1999.

The U.K. quintet became one of the biggest bands in the 1990s after releasing their debut song "Wannabe" in 1996 and following it with a string of No. 1 hits.

They have sold more than 55 million albums worldwide and were followed by a series of girl groups that emulated their sassy style.

The Spice Girls officially split in 2001 after Halliwell left to pursue a solo career in 1998.

Since the split, they have been fodder for tabloid rumours surrounding everything from their relationships, weight and legal troubles -- especially Posh, who is married to world-famous soccer star David Beckham.

Brown recently finished an appearance on the TV show "Dancing with the Stars." She made headlines this year after taking legal action to gain child support from actor Eddie Murphy.

Murphy had expressed doubts as to whether he was the father of Brown's daughter, Angel Iris Murphy Brown, until a DNA test proved his paternity.

Anticipation for the tour has been high since it was announced in June. More than 750,000 tickets have been sold for their tour, which heads for California after the Vancouver show.

The only other Canadian appearances are shows in Toronto on Feb. 3 and 4.

The Ontario capital was added to the tour after winning a contest where Spice Girls fans voted for which city the band should visit.

Scott Ayre of All Star Tickets said many of the fans are now in their early twenties.

"We've been finding the six-year-old girls to 11-year-old girls are now 17 to 22, so we've been finding that age group has been the most common to call in for tickets," he said.

Fans of the group have been spice-spotting in Vancouver hotspots hoping to see members over the weekend.

Bunton has been spotted shopping at Gucci, while Beckham was rumoured to be seen at Holt Renfrew.

Tickets for the tours Vancouver show, to be held at GM Place, were snatched up quickly and some later sold online for as much as $550.