This weekend was the 1000th birthday of Yaroslavl. The town celebrated by drinking (of course), fireworks, performances and a mandatory visit from Medvedev. Since we arrived the preparation has been madness: they re-tarmacced all the pavements and roads, painted buildings, repaired buildings and made an island of mud into a paradise of fountains and grassy verges.
The festivities began on Friday. A few of us went to the ‘Kremlin’ which includes churches, museums, galleries, markets and also a live bear (called Masha, who is Yaroslavl’s mascot). On our way in we got roped into a few games by some clowns and after that we wandered around the market. The market was pretty good, people were mostly selling ‘national Russian’ things they had made such as wooden shoes and knitted gloves. It was nice to see people indulging in their own culture! You would never see that in England. There were also some performances in the Kremlin by children in national dress and also some singers. They even sang Barbie girl! How Russian.
It was such a sunny day (I think it is the start of ‘Womens’ summer’!) that we decided to do all the touristy activities and walk along the Volga and around all the churches (there are ALOT). Yaroslavl is really quite pretty! When they said it was a small town and quite industrial, i was worried it would be horrible and grey here but it’s not! It obviously looks quite dire in the rain as do most places but when its’ sunny or at night it’s so pretty (and I bet in the snow it’ll look lovely!).
On our way home we watched a rehearsal for the concert which was to be on Saturday night. It was invitation only and Medvedev would be attending so it was serious business! A few opera singers sang about how wonderful Yaroslavl was and then there was some kind of hip hop dance. The main entertainment was the cut out of a bear which they occasionally pranced across the stage and also the fact that they sang land of hope and glory! Very entertaining indeed. The whole fiasco was very cheesy yet taken so seriously: classic Russians.
Saturday was the main day of celebrations so we met early (well…12pm) and searched for something to do. The first performance we stumbled across was a performance by young Britney Spears/ Justin Timberlake. It was pretty dire. We then discovered the “reinactment of Yaroslavl in 1010” which was basically a few tents with old stuff in and some role-play by men in Ye Olde attire. Each “battle” lasted only a couple of minutes so we bored quite quickly and left in search of something else.
After searching for somewhere to eat for around two hours we had dinner and the met the others so watch the pyrotechnic display and the fireworks. Both were amazing! I reckon that due to the lack of health and safety regulations they are allowed to do more dangerous acts and use bigger fireworks.
All in all, good celebrations!