Buns from Freken Bok and Ivan the Terrible’s favourite tart: Workshops galore to suit every taste during Journey to Christmas festival

Buns from Freken Bok and Ivan the Terrible’s favourite tart: Workshops galore to suit every taste during Journey to Christmas festival
The festival agenda includes over 8,000 workshops.

The Journey to Christmas festival, due to open on Friday, will last until 13 January. People will be able to watch street performances and ice shows, also taking part in games plus guided tours.

8,000 workshops for children and adults are planned during the festival. People will get a chance to learn how to cook Christmas delicacies and try their hand at making New Year toys. Other fields will be on offer too including carpentry and old handicrafts. There’ll also be slideshows and lectures on history, culture and good manners.

The workshops will take place inside warm pavilions, and anyone can join them, without registering in advance.

“Tasty” workshops

The festival offers numerous workshops for budding cooks who will learn how to make festive food from other countries and the Russian regions. For those who have a sweet tooth they’ll be lessons on how to prepare fairy tale treats and sweet delights using old and modern recipes.

A New Year boutique for little children will open on Revolyutsii (Revolution) Square. The youngsters will be able to bake New Year brownie trees, spicy Christmas cakes and make aromatic hot chocolate. Experts from the Gastronomy: Around the World gourmet school will teach everyone how to make various national dishes, including Vienna schnitzels (made from pork or veal), Austrian fish salads, Czech strudel, English ginger nuts and Mogi sweet treats from Japan. 

Every day, Tverskaya Square will be the place to head for if people want to go to the Christmas Kitchen theatrical cooking workshops, with attendees reciting passages from various literary works and preparing food described by them. People at another workshop on Stroginsky Boulevard will have to try and make fairy tale delicacies, including stern housekeeper Freken Bok style buns described in a series of books about Karlsson-on-the-Roof, a portly and mischievous man, by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, as well as toffee apples for those who want to stay forever young and sweet.

The Big Buffet workshop on Sirenevy Boulevard in Troitsk and the School of Cooks on Slavy (Glory) Square in the Kuzminki District will offer tips on how to make traditional Russian New Year dishes, including traditional Olivier salad and Shuba Salad (Herring Under a Fur Coat), a classic Russian salad with beetroots, potatoes, carrots, hard boiled eggs, herring and lots of mayonnaise. People will also get a chance to prepare Rasstegai (sort of pies).

Those visiting Semyonovskaya fair during the festival will recall old recipes, including that for making Ivan the Terrible’s favourite chicken tarts, and they will also cook  Solyanka (chunky vegetable soup with plenty meat or fish) from the Experienced Russian Housewife’s Handbook by Yekaterina Avdeyeva, published in 1842. Traditional regional food will include Siberian dumplings (Russian ravioli) and Murmansk-style cod.

Children attending another workshop on Yunosti (Youth) Square in Zelenograd will have to try and cook Novgorod-style Zrazy (often prepared with potatoes), Tatar fried pastries, Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg) buns and St Petersburg-style doughnuts.

Those flocking to the Tip Top gourmet school for children on Klimentovsky Pereulok will learn how to make sugar based toys for New Year trees, caramel-chocolate tiramisu and coconut sweets covered with white chocolate.   

History of carnivals and School of “good manners”

The Factory of Gifts on Yartsevskaya Street and Toy-Land on Rozhdestvenka Street will be the place to head for to take part in creative workshops. Experienced teachers will show people how to create New Year and Christmas gifts, including boxes with fairy-tale pictures, custom-made jewellery, pop-up postcards and gift wrapping.

People will be able to make a magic snowball, a Christmas town in the Kirigami technique at the Creative Studio near a monument to scientist Kliment Timiryazev on Tverskoi Boulevard, and they will also get a chance to help decorate New Year trees. Young designers will assemble an animated cartoon projector, a lamp, a clock and even a moving mini-robot near a monument to poet Sergei Yesenin.

The Joiner’s Workshop on Slavy (Glory) Square will run a carpentry class, with experts showing how to make fairy tale characters, shelves resembling New Year trees and New Year toys from ordinary pieces of wood.

Children will learn about the history of carnivals on Kuznetsky Most Street and design masquerade masks and trendy toys and also make rag dolls. The School of Good Manners will be open between18-21 December, with its teachers telling everyone about 19th century New Year and Christmas celebrations, festive food, and how New Year trees were decorated. People will also learn about basic etiquette rules.

A theatrical foreign-languages school for children will open on Novy Arbat. Teachers and pupils will read Christmas fairy tales and take part in puppet shows based on their plots. Adults if they want can join the workshops and create unusual-looking decorations.

The Art School on Revolyutsii (Revolution) Square will host an art workshop, with everyone learning to paint water-colours and acrylic-paint pictures, to make New Year collage postcards and to create interesting New Year tree baubles.

Ball preparations and a trip back to the Middle Ages

On Orekhovy Boulevard, stage by stage instructions on how to prepare for a ball including choosing what to wear and rehearsing ball room dances will be ongoing. They will also learn how to sing romances and attend home performances.

Two festival venues will provide an insight into winter-holiday celebrations in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. A Victorian haute couture boutique/fashion house and a vintage barbershop/hairstylist’s parlour will open on Manezhnaya Square. People will watch amazing scientific experiments and listen to the Termenvox/Theremin, an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). 

On Profsoyuznaya Street people will have to try painting oriental pictures at the Intellectual Drawing Room. The Village Hut chalet will have a workshop on how to make Christmas carol masks and vintage postcards, as well as home-woven cloth.

Our contemporaries will team up with residents of a medieval castle on Gorodetskaya Street and prepare for the upcoming festivities. They will try and make Christmas wreaths using fir-tree branches and New Year tree decorations from straw and bark and they will also learn to defend the fortress from the Winter Warriors. Lecturers will deliver a pep talk on history, culture and lifestyle of medieval people.

Festival organisers will create a festive Soviet-era atmosphere with a hint of the 1960s on Dmitriya Donskogo Boulevard. The House of Culture pavilion will have workshops and slide shows. A design and aircraft modelling workshop will take place at the Science and Radio Equipment pavilion, with attendees creating cardboard-and-paper aircraft models there.