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Ballet on ice, Christmas trees with fairy tale characters and laser tag: Journey to Christmas Festival packs many surprises

The Russian capital will host the Journey to Christmas Festival, the main winter festival, from 14 December 2018 through 13 January 2019. The 74 festival venues will offer ballets on ice, performances by Russian and European theatres, as well as workshops and interactive games.

The venues will be open from 11 am to 10 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 10 pm on weekends. The Red Square venue, to open 30 November, will admit people from 10 am to 11.30 pm daily.

Central Moscow’s Red Square, Revolyutsii Square, Manezhnaya and Tverskaya squares, Tverskoi Boulevard, Novopushkinsky Public Garden, the Kuznetsky Most, Rozhdestvenka and Novy Arbat streets and other locations will host the main festival events.

Over 500 Christmas trees will be put up this year. The largest tree standing 20 metres tall already decorates Manezhnaya Square, bristling with vintage Futurism-era toys, such as airships, planes, balloons and unusual devices.

Become a fairy tale hero

This year’s festival will focus on fairy tales and favourite books. The cultural programme will deal with works by Russian and foreign writers. Festival venues will feature unusual designs.

Actors posing as famous writers and the protagonists of their stories, including poet Alexander Pushkin and Eugene Onegin, writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and the Mouse King, playwright and novelist Alexandre Dumas and the Three Musketeers, will welcome people from an open-air stage on Tverskaya Square. Each day, the square will host interactive performances dedicated to the literature of various countries.

Even Christmas trees will remind everyone about books. The tree on Tverskaya Square will symbolise great prose, poetry and folklore, the three main literary styles. Each style will have its own colour and assortment of toys. Theatrical-literary Christmas trees dealing with various stories will appear near the monument to Yury Dolgoruky.

Some festival venues will feature Christmas trees dedicated to various fairy tales. A tree on Orekhovy Boulevard will feature toys alluding to The Nutcracker and The Mouse King. Christmas trees on Novopushkinsky Public Garden and Tverskoi Boulevard will feature ice crowns and snowflake figurines from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.

Tverskoi Boulevard will feature a glass maze, built by the Evil Troll, the homes of Kai and Gerda, a rose in the flowerbed of the Old Lady Who Knew Magic and the Golden Coach slide. Actors dressed as fairy tale characters will teach everyone to play high-speed chess. Children will be able to snowboard and ski downhill in a winter park. People will solve riddles and help Kai assemble the word Eternity on orders from the Snow Queen. A huge icy heart about three metres tall will also be installed at this venue.

Visit a mechanical theatre and cook an improvised cereal

The venue on Revolyutsii Square will surprise everyone with its mechanical theatres. People will see decorations with lots of moving parts making it possible to spice up any performance. Each theatre narrates its own fairy tale, including The Little Humpback Horse by Pyotr Yershov, By the Pike’s Wish (Yemelya and the Pike) from Alexander Afanasyev’s Russian Fairy Tales Collection and Cinderella by Charles Perrault.

Various workshops will also focus on literary themes. For example, children attending a galloping gourmet school on Stroginsky Boulevard will learn to cook cereals using ingredients from a Russian fairy tale called Cereal from an Axe, also baking cakes that Little Red Riding Hood delivered to her Grandmother. A digital studio will open on Slavy Square, with people creating animated fairy tale characters.

Watch an ice ballet and play laser tag

Ice theatres at Novopushkinsky Public Garden and Red Square will attract children and adults alike, with noted Russian figure skaters staging ice shows, including the ice ballets Cinderella, Snow White, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Little Onion (Cipollino).

Everyone will be able to play laser tag on Manezhnaya Square. Actors posing as famous researchers and inventors will fight villains who steal Christmas, with spectators cheering on the good guys. A specially equipped set will be used to present the Defenders and the Abductors who will fight each other in a toy town.

Ride down snow slides and do curling

A large ice slide, located between Manezhnaya and Revolyutsii squares, will be eight metres tall, six metres wide and 100 metres long. People will receive tire tubes and ride them downhill. Two other slides measuring 15 and 40 metres long will be built on Stoleshnikov Pereulok for the first time, thrilling toddlers and older children.

A 120 metre long by 7 metre wide ice slide will open on Profsoyuznaya Street. This all-weather ride will feature artificial and natural ice; the ice is from lakes in Russia’s Ural region. The slide will resemble a theatre stage; the curtain with fairy tale castles, and figures from well-known plays for children will create a unique holiday mood. The unusual lighting system will fascinate people in the evenings.

During the festival, people will watch professional curling players guide their heavy stones to victory on Novy Arbat Street, with world championship medallists holding free workshops, open training sessions and tournaments.

Olympic winter sport champions and other noted athletes will hold training sessions and workshops on Yunosti Square in Zelenograd. Visitors will be able to ski downhill or snowboard for free, throw snowballs, try their luck at a winter shooting gallery or throw pucks in an ice hockey maze.

Merry winter fun and games, including a snowball shooting gallery, a magnetic self-decorating Christmas tree, the Jolly Hockey game and other attractions will be available at the festival venues on Gorodetskaya, Profsoyuznaya, Novopeschanaya and Yartsevskaya streets, on Khachaturyana Street, on Slavy Square, on Dmitriya Donskogo, Stroginsky and Orekhovy boulevards and on Sirenevy Boulevard in the town of Troitsk.

Festival venues in every administrative area will feature retail chalets offering custom-made Christmas tree toys and decorations and unusual New Year’s gifts for friends and relatives. Mini-cafes will be of interest to even the most discriminating people with delicious Christmas-season dishes.

The 22 December 2017-14 January 2018 Journey to Christmas Festival attracted over 14 million people.