The sixth Journey to Christmas Festival broke attendance records with a total of 18.6 million people attending the 78 festival venues. This was 10 percent more than last year’s numbers, said Head of Moscow’s Department of Trade and Services Alexei Nemeryuk during a meeting of the Moscow Government Presidium.
Key figures from the sixth Journey to Christmas Festival:
65 million visited Moscow Seasons festivals in 2018
18.6 million visited the Journey to Christmas Festival venues
Between 31 December and 2 January, 3.1 million people went to New Year festivities held in the converted pedestrian sections of Tverskaya Street, Red Square and Zaryadye Park
1.2 million attended the five new venues at Zyablikovo, Butovo, Mitino, Kuzminki and Novokosino districts
1 million watched the Highline tightrope walkers’ show on Tverskaya Street
The Journey to Christmas Festival, which was held in Moscow between 14 December and 13 January, offered plays and concerts, workshops and sports classes, skating and ice slides. The tastiest Christmas and New Year’s themed treats and unique souvenirs were on sale. Over 5 million Russian and foreign tourists enjoyed the festival’s soulful atmosphere along with Muscovites.
Theatre was the main theme
Theatre was the main theme of the sixth Journey to Christmas Festival.
A total of 79 ice ballets were held of the stages at ice theaters at the Novopushkinsky Public Garden and the skating rink on Red Square. Over 100,000 people came to watch plays choreographed by the famous figure skater and choreographer Pyotr Chernyshev (The Nutcracker, Snow White, Cipollino and this season’s premiere, The Frog Princess), as well as two-time Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushchenko’s show (The Nutcracker, The Snow King and Kings on Ice).
A total of 1.4 million festivalgoers watched and even participated in over 2,290 creative team performances held on street stages and festival venues. The list of these performances included plays by puppet theatres from all over Russia, street performances by Russian and foreign theatres held within the framework of the Golden Mask in the City project, musicals by the Triumph production centre, plays by Moscow’s creative teams and touring European street theatres, plus theatrical meetings with Father Frost and the Snow Maiden and various festive concerts.
New Year’s celebration as the main event
New Year’s celebrations were the main events of the Journey to Christmas Festival. This year, for the second time in a row, tourists and Moscow residents were able to celebrate on Tverskaya Street – between 31 December and 2 January, the street was closed to vehicle traffic.
A total of 3.1 million participated in festivities held on Tverskaya Street, Red Square and Zaryadye Park.
Within the framework of the New Year of My Childhood festive programme held on Tverskaya, Mokhovaya and Okhotny Ryad streets, the city opened four themed venues dedicated to New Year’s celebration traditions from the 1950-1960s, 1970-1980s, 1990-2000s, and recent years.
Within three days, Tverskaya Street hosted a total of 898 workshops, 453 sports and entertainment programmes and 472 street plays held within the framework of the Golden Mask in the City project. The performances featured street theatre artists from Moscow, St Petersburg, Krasnodar, Yevpatoria, as well as from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK, France, Austria and Slovakia.
The four stages on Tverskaya Street hosted a total of 136 concerts featuring 757 performers.
About a million people came to watch the circus performers’ chandelier programme (with a total of 34 performances) and tightrope walkers who walked on cables stretched between two buildings. The Highline show was held almost 70 times in three days.
Almost 2,900 people took part in the What? Where? When?, Quiz, Please! and Club With No Fools intellectual games. The questions and queries were asked by Yelena Orlova, Maxim Potashev, Yelena Potanina, Rovshan Askerov, Boris Levin and many others.
Some 30,000 festivalgoers took part in sports-related workshops. Over 1,000 visitors participated in hockey games held at the venue designed to resemble the Soviet Shaibu! Shaibu! (Go for the Puck) animated cartoon.
About 2,400 amateur sports enthusiasts attended workshops at the snowboard park. At the park’s pump track, 1,200 young festivalgoers were able to ride bicycles, scooters and running bikes. Over 4,000 people took part in curling workshops, while over 20,000 guests of different ages took up slacklining classes.
This year, Mokhovaya Street became the home to the largest sports facility of the festival called Big-Air. Within the course of three days, this ski jump and snowboarding facility hosted fascinating performances by professional athletes, which were attended by almost 60,000 people. On 1 and 2 January, this venue hosted amateur and professional snowboarding competitions with about 70 athletes.
Another popular sport show called motorcycle trials attracted tens of thousands of spectators.
Those who didn’t participate in Tverskaya Street festivities were able to watch the live broadcast online. On 1 January, viewers could watch the live broadcast of concerts, sports events and every other festivity on three different websites – Odnoklassniki, Facebook and VKontakte. Total streaming time was estimated at almost nine hours; the broadcast had over 1 million viewers.
New local venues for the festival at Moscow’s administrative areas
For the first time, the Journey to Christmas Festival was held at five local venues opened in Moscow’s residential districts. The city opened new venues on Gorodetskaya Street (Novokosino District), Dmitriya Donskogo Boulevard (Severnoye Butovo District), Mitinskaya Street (Mitino District), Orekhovy Boulevard (Zyablikovo District), and Slavy Square (Kuzminky District).
A total of 1.2 million people visited these venues.
The venues hosted five historical reenactments, 755 theatre plays and 2,628 workshops that were attended by about 4,950 people. Some 100,000 visitors rode merry-go-rounds, while 34,000 guests went skating on local skating rinks. Some 40,000 children took part in sports-related events.
At the new district venues, the city also organised fairs, where Muscovites bought a total of 17,000 Christmas tree decorations and 80,000 souvenirs.
The list of other fair goods in high demand included sweets, shish-kebab, Christmas drinks and other treats.
Workshops for everyone
As part of the long-standing tradition of the Moscow Seasons festivals, the city organised many different workshops for both adults and children.
At cooking classes, festivalgoers were able to learn to cook traditional Christmas treats using ancient and modern Russian and European recipes, while at creative workshops, they were able to make home and theatre decorations, make presents and learn to wrap them in a beautiful way, as well as paint, make robots and take up various handcrafts.
Teachers and students from Moscow colleges held a series of workshops as well. There, they taught children how to make carnival masks, fold napkins for a festive dinner table and even treat glassware with the help of special machines.
Under the RetroChristmas special project, the city held a series of unusual workshops on Manezhnaya Square, Gorodetskaya and Profsoyuznaya streets, Orekhovy and Dmitriya Donskogo boulevards (and also on Varvarka Street and Zaryadye Park during the New Year’s holidays), where festivalgoers could celebrate like they did in the olden days. Historical reenactment experts taught visitors to play an electronic musical instrument called the theremin, make medieval Christmas tree toys using straw and learn the basics of calligraphy and fencing.
During the Journey to Christmas Festival, the city held a total of 8,175 workshops attended by some 94,500 people.
Those interested in the history of Moscow could take free tours in the Russian, English and Chinese languages. Over 1,700 Muscovites and tourists took the two-hour tours which took place 33 times.
Christmas-themed quest game called A Fairytale Journey
The traditional Christmas-themed quest game was especially popular among visitors.
This year, it was called A Fairytale Journey. To earn gifts, the participants had to answer questions on the history of New Year’s and Christmas, as well as questions on everybody’s favourite plays and fairytales.
The city issued a total of 90,000 special fairytale passports for quest game participants and distributed some 85,000 presents, the list of which included sets of miscellaneous sweets, movie tickets and fashionable accessories that were developed by Russian designers specially for this festival.
Those willing to share their Christmas spirit were able to take part in numerous charity programmes developed by various public organisations, such as The Lighthouse children’s hospice, Zhizn, Ya Yest, Orbi, Russkaya Beryoza, Lapa Druzhby organisations, and many others.
The participants of the main winter festival also organised a New Year’s celebration for Filatov Hospital patients. Some 90 people took part in festive workshops and a fun matinee at the hospital.
Those who wanted to congratulate their family and friends or ask Father Frost for a present could send postcards free of charge at festival venues.
During the New Year’s holidays, a total of 50,000 letters and 40,000 theatre-themed postcards issued under the Golden Mask in the City project were sent to various Russian cities from the letter boxes found on Tverskaya Street and Manezhnaya Square. The youngest visitors at Tverskaya Square sent over 9,000 letters to Father Frost in the city of Veliky Ustyug.
From snowball range to curling
The festival offered many active games and open-air workout sessions for those into active recreation. Visitors could go snowboarding, play a fun game of hockey, check out the snowball range and take up many other activities.
Curling became the most popular activity in the sports programme. From the opening day, this venue located next to 21 Novy Arbat Street attracted 67,500 people. The total number of sports programme participants was estimated at 131,000.
Both adults and children enjoyed fun winter activities. A total of 146,400 people slid down the ice slides installed on the area between Manezhnaya and Revolyutsii squares, in Profsoyuznaya Street and Stoleshnikov Pereulok.
Over 258,000 people skated at the festival venues.
The Moscow Seasons festivals’ merry-go-rounds remain popular no matter the weather. During this Journey to Christmas Festival, they attracted a total of 307,000 people.
Grand scale shopping
Visitors could have a snack and buy New Year’s home decorations as well as unusual gifts for their families and friends at festival venues.
In only one month, a total of 230,000 souvenirs and 46,000 Christmas tree toys were sold at the festival’s retail chalets. Visitors also bought 183,000 shish-kebabs, 83,000 desserts and sweets, and 400,000 litres of a spiced Christmas drinks.
Muscovites and tourists alike opted for dishes they have known since childhood. The most popular included pies, coulibiacs (pies with fish filling), croissants and scones, sausages, pies with different fillings, such as apple, cinnamon, honey, duck, bacon and onion, as well as chicken and fish pies.
Reviews from all over the world
The sixth Journey to Christmas Festival was given positive reviews by many journalists and bloggers from all over the world.
On 1 January, 2019, the American travel ALO Magazine named Moscow’s Journey to Christmas the best winter festival of 2019.
The day before that, the festival venue designs were praised at @wonderful_places – one of the most popular travel blogs on Instagram (11.7 million followers).