Just when you thought you were done with Christmas and New Year celebrations, marking the end of the festivities by shredding your tree and wassailing your last wassails to the Green Man on 12th Night then along comes a few more New Year celebrations. It's the Russian Old New Year this weekend, by which we mean New Year according to the old Tsarist calendar which was abandoned after 1917. Still observed in Russia, the event has made it to London and this third celebration in Trafalgar Square promises to be bigger and better than last year.
The 2006 Russian Winter Festival was... fantastic. It was a buzz to stand among hundreds of grinning Russian men (strapping) and women (stunning), all watching the clock showing Moscow time on Nelson's Column. The only thing that bothered us was the cordoned festival area, severely policed perhaps because of the huge load of alcohol on offer and had an irritating entry and exit system. The fall of fake snow as the bells of Moscow were broadcast and the thoughtful, possibly homesick silence that followed made up for the overzealous policing of the day.
Organised by Eventica, a Russian-EU relations event management team, the 2007 programme includes the Moscow State Children's Puppet Theatre, specially invited Russian rock bands, folk groups and Russian food stalls. And beer. And vodka. Though he can't be there for every event he allows into Trafalgar Square, Ken Livingstone will make a brief appearance and probably stay for a cheeky pint.
To get the party mood started, the first international ice chess game between Moscow and London will take place on Thursday morning in Trafalgar Square between 8.00am and 9.00am. Massive ice sculpture chess pieces will be used in both cities for a match that will be played via live satellite link, with teams led by Grand Masters Nigel Short and Anatoly Karpov. Damn, that's a literally very cool way to launch the Russian Winter Festival. Get up early and get some pictures and share them with us.
And... once you're done with Russian Old New Year, keep mid-February free for Chinese New Year (Year of the Pig) and then Hindu New Year mid-March. This is London, where it is always New Year's Eve. Happy New Year... Again!
Russian Winter Festival, Trafalgar Square, 11.00am to 6.30pm, entry is free. For full programme details, go to the festival website here. For more information about the international chess game, go here.