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Happy holidays in Kyiv: best parties, concerts, winter villages

December 22, 2021 3:45 pmby Artur Korniienko
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People experience the holiday season by Ukraine’s main Christmas tree on the Sofiivska Square in Kyiv on Dec. 22, 2021. (Oleg Petrasiuk)

The second Christmas and New Year’s season of the pandemic will be less restrictive in Kyiv, with a selection of winter villages and celebrations around the city.

Still, all indoor events require certificates of vaccination, negative test or recovery from Covid-19. Face masks are advised even outside in crowded areas.

But it should not spoil the holiday cheer.

Winter villages

Ukraine’s main Christmas tree on the Sofiivska Square was lit up on Dec. 18, the eve of Saint Nicholas Day in Eastern Christianity. The 31-meter artificial tree has 20,000 red and gold ornaments, surrounded by a tent of lights 60 meters in diameter.

The theme of this central holiday location is a classic – the "Wonder-night" when Jesus Christ was born. As might be expected, there is a nativity scene at the foot of the tree, envisioned by the city authorities to be the largest in Europe. Four arches with chandeliers in the center lead to the display.

Besides the stalls with pastries and hot drinks, there are photo areas, a carousel, a toy workshop and other attractions for kids. There is a also skating rink around the nearby Bohdan Khmelnytsky Monument. The fair continues into the Volodymyrskyi Passage that has more street food.

This passage leads up to the Volodymyr's Hill connected by the panoramic pedestrian bridge to the festive area at People’s Friendship Arch (Druzhby Narodiv Arch). With its opera-inspired design, this lounge area has its own Christmas tree and heated tables with hot drinks.

People skate around the Christmas tree at the Roshen Winter Village in Kyiv on Dec. 22, 2021. (Oleg Petrasiuk)

Christmas on Podil at the Kontraktova Square is one of Kyiv’s busiest winter villages this year with 10,000 square meters of attractions. Besides the Christmas tree, there is a residence of St. Nicholas and a music stage. This European-style Christmas fair has many stalls with craft souvenirs and street food, a snow slide and a skating rink by Podil’s Ferris wheel.

The most family-friendly location this holiday season is at the Taras Shevchenko Park, according to local authorities. Designed as a fairyland of St. Nicholas, it has his residence and an area for his little helpers, a Christmas tree, various food stalls and photo areas. There are Alleys of Love and Goodness, as well as daily presents for children from low-income families and orphans.

The Winter Land at the VDNH exhibition complex is probably the most expansive village with 20 festive locations, including Santa Claus’ residence, snow slides, a workshop and a museum. From Dec. 31 to Jan. 9, there will also be a daily musical performance next to one of Kyiv’s largest skating rinks.

Another remote but still magical location is the Roshen Winter Village by the titular confectionery near the Demiivksa metro station at 1 Nauky Ave. It also has a large skating rink around its Christmas tree, Santa’s residence with games and dances, and a food court.

Kyiv Virtuosi Orchestra will perform Christmas classical tunes at the Parkovyi Congress and Exhibition Center on Dec. 29, 2021. (Svitlo Concert/Facebook)

Concerts

From Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve, there will be daily holiday-themed concerts in Kyiv, whether it’s classical music, jazz or even blues. There is something for everyone.

  • Christmas Jazz Songs With Onita Boone – The U.S. Broadway singer will perform holiday season hits by jazz and pop legends with bold new arrangements by local musicians. Boone will hold two shows daily on Dec. 23-24 at the Premier Palace hotel and on Dec. 25 at the Universum Hall at VDNH.

    Premier Palace (5-7/29 Tarasa Shevchenko Blvd.) Dec. 23-24. 5 p.m., 8 p.m. Hr 600-1000
    Universum Hall (VDNH, 1 Akademika Hlushkova Ave.) Dec. 25. 5 p.m., 8 p.m. Hr 700-900
  • Christmas Jazz a quintet of Ukrainian musicians with singer Daria Gavrik and Radion Ivanov on piano will play "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" and other festive jazz classics.

    Cinema House (6 Saksahanskoho St.) Dec. 23-24. 5 p.m., 8 p.m. Hr 290-650
  • New Year and Christmas Concert by National Opera – over 20 festive pieces of classical music from composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Johann Strauss II will be performed by the National Opera orchestra on Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 7.

    National Opera of Ukraine (50 Volodymyrska St.) Dec. 25, 26, Jan. 7. 7 p.m. Hr 200-1,200
  • New Year Blues for Adults With Alex Kogan – this time, a connoisseur of jazz and art director of the Leopolis Jazz Fest will demonstrate his grasp of the season-themed blues at the Pepper’s Club rock pub on Dec. 26. But he will go back to his usual genre on Dec. 28 with New Year Blues for Adults at the Caribbean Club.

    Pepper’s Club (8 Moskovska St., building 7) Dec. 26. 7 p.m. Hr 290-440
    Caribbean Club (4 Petliury St.) Dec. 28. 7 p.m. Hr 390-790
  • Christmas Classics by Kyiv Virtuosi Orchestra – one of Ukraine’s best independent orchestras will play academic music from the Strauss family, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and others.

    Parkovyi Congress and Exhibition Center (16A Parkova Rd.) Dec. 29. 6 p.m., 8 p.m. Hr 300-800
  • Christmas Jazz: Frank Sinatra – local musicians will play the best holiday tunes of the legendary Ol' Blue Eyes.

    Parkovyi Congress and Exhibition Center (16A Parkova Rd.) Dec. 30. 6 p.m., 8 p.m. Hr 300-800
Kyiv's avant-garde Bursa Hotel will host a New Year party starting at 9 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2021. (BURSA Hotel Kyiv / Facebook)

New Year parties

There is nothing like an all-night party to start off the new year, and Kyiv has a few good options.

  • Bursa NY Night: Zero Coordinate – the boutique hotel plans to land on Mars with its science fiction-themed celebration and an immersive art exhibition. The line-up of artists is more diverse than the International Space Station: Danish synth-pop band Lust for Youth, cosmic South Korean DJ Shubostar, Israeli electronic duo Megaphonim and others.

    Bursa Hotel (11B Kostiantynivska St.) Jan. 31. 9 p.m. Hr 2,000
  • Win Bar – the wine specialty bar will have a more exquisite New Year party with dinner and jazz by the Dennis Adu Trio of one of Ukraine’s best trumpeters.

    Win Bar (16/7 Khoryva St.) Jan 31. 9:30 p.m. Hr 3,500-4,000
  • Closer: New Year 2022 – a two-day party at Kyiv’s pioneer electronic music venue will feature all the familiar resident DJs, such as Timur Basha, Roman K and Vova KLK, but also a few guests, such as the Romanian techno and minimal DJ Rhadoo and Italian Francesco Del Garda with his mix of funk, techno and groovy house.

    Closer (31 Nyzhnoiurkivska St.) Jan 31. 23:59 p.m. Hr 750
  • NYE at 41 Kyrylivska St. – the intriguing untitled electornic music nightclub will have a three-day party starting Dec. 31 with over 20 diverse DJs from around the world. Some of the biggest names are the German musical chameleon Roman Flügel, U.K. experimental records collector Ben UFO and Etapp Kyle, the Ukrainian rising star of Berlin electronic music scene.

    41 Kyrylivska St. Dec. 31. 23:59 p.m. Hr 750.
Artur Korniienko
Author: Artur Korniienko

Artur Korniienko is a culture writer at the Kyiv Independent. He previously reported on Ukrainian literature, art, music, film and social issues for the Kyiv Post, including the controversial Babyn Yar memorial and other development projects opposed by the community. In 2021, he ran a podcast about Ukrainian migrant workers for RFE/RL on the Vaclav Havel Fellowship in Prague. With a Master's in Journalism from the Ukrainian Catholic University, Korniienko had also worked as a freelance journalist and a TV correspondent.

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