After living in Moscow for not even one month I already have the feeling that every weekend there is something to celebrate here. The city seems to be decorated 24/7/365. There are fireworks everywhere all of the time. I actively took part in two celebratory festivals so far, and let me tell you something: Moscow does not do things by halves. Especially not when it’s about celebrating something.
Moscow City Day
Every year since 1997 Moscow has held a festival to celebrate its founding. Actually, the first celebration took place in 1847 to mark the city’s 700 year anniversary. It was voted that the city was founded on April 4 in 1147, yet the celebration was held on January 1. Back then a prayer of gratitude was held in all Moscow churches and the city was illuminated. In 1947 the de-facto ‘Mayor of Moscow’ raised the issue to celebrate City Day again during a meeting with Stalin at the Kremlin, who supported the idea. A new date for the celebration was chosen, namely September 7, 1947. This gave them more time to prepare for the festivities, as post-war Moscow needed to be repaired and poshed up. The celebrations lasted four days and featured a firework (!). In 1987 the City Day was once again revived and it only became annual after 1997, when Moscow turned 850.
Since then it’s always been celebrated on the first Saturday of September. However, this year the festival would have coincided with the Day of Solidarity in the Fight against Terrorism (September 3) so it was voted to move City Day on the second weekend of September. Moscow celebrated its 869th birthday with an array of festivals, events, concerts, and of course grand fireworks at various venues in the city centre. According to the official website of Moscow, over a thousand events were held on 10 and 11 September. Cray cray! The main celebrations were dedicated to Russian films as 2016 is the Year of Russian Cinema (they celebrate something every year – last year it was Literature).
A group of people (and me) went to a place with two stages for music and other stuff (mostly for kids though). The concert area was really huge and there were quite a lot of people who were really into the music. However, Russian Rap (and Dubstep?) is not really my cup of tea, so the music was only so so (for me). Later in the evening we also went to a park to see the fireworks (that were held all over town). Unfortunately, we left a bit too late and missed half of the show. Also, we expected that the fireworks last a bit longer than 5 minutes, which they did not. Still impressive though and there were so many people on the streets! Nevertheless, we enjoyed the night walk and had a beautiful view from a bridge in Moscow. Unfortunately, on the second day we totally forgot that some of the museums also held special events and were for free and instead we went to the Red Square. Due to the Moscow City Day the area around the Red Square was heavily guarded with security checks and everything, but it was nice to see the decorations in the city centre.
Circle of Light Festival
There is another annual international festival in September: the Circle of Light Festival. At this festival lightning designers and specialists in audiovisual art from various countries use video mapping to reinvent the architectural scene of the city. Buildings such as the Bolshoi Theatre or the Moscow State University are transformed into screens for large video projections. Another good thing of this festival, besides the impressive 3D projections of course, is that admission is (mostly) free! Naturally, fireworks are also part of the festival. We saw some beautiful projections, but also a few strange ones :D
As you can see Moscow has already tried to impress me in my first month and I must say Moscow managed to do so. Also, if you ever get the chance of going to a 3D light projection – you should go there. It is such a great form of art and it really does not matter where you stand and how many people there are as the buildings are usually always very tall :) The first time that I saw something like that was in Copenhagen during Kulturnatten (Culture night) where we saw a light installation of “Tolkien’s Universe” at the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum.