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We All Have a Bit of Magi in Us at Christmas...

The New Year celebrations and holidays are coming to an end. It is always a delight to spend them with our loved ones, granting their wishes and bringing them joy.

ExpoYolka, the largest New Year event in St. Petersburg, designed as an event for the entire family, took place in Expoforum from 2 to 7 January. Children of all ages, teenagers and parents, all found something to do, experienced emotions and of course, received presents.

The central idea of the event was to bring together the virtual and the real, to create new sensations and experiences. In our world today we frequently and involuntarily get too attached to social networks, virtual communication and momentary idols. We cannot dismiss digitalization, but it is quite reasonable to try and find the good things in it, things which could help us become closer and more caring to one another.

The organizers of ExpoYolka spent a lot of time preparing to unite online and offline life, carefully considering every detail and activity area. These were stylistically named after... apps on an operating system: E.Art, E.Gram, E.Eda, E.Music and E.Movie.

E.Movie offered its visitors the colorful, immersive musical “the Bremen Town Musicians”. Although most children already knew that Princess would escape with Troubadour and the Robbers and Atamansha would be punished, they were all genuinely worried about the fate of the heroes, they helped them to hide and make friends. This can be explained since, to paraphrase a famous film character, “...virtual communication cannot make your soul bigger or your heart more just”.

Modernity was also reflected in one of the most popular zones – E.Tube. This zone included donut-decorating and lollipop-making classes, a Life Science School show by ITMO University for those who like more serious stuff, art lessons for making stained-glass windows, and entertaining New Year-themed classes in English. But the most fashionable events of the season were definitely... slimes and kinetic sand, both of which many children today love passionately. Slimes are a jelly-like slimy toy which you can make yourself in the kitchen. By the way, cooking slime and sculpting kinetic sand was just as popular among adults as children. The coordinators of the slime zone thought that this was wonderful, after all, working with slime and kinetic sand is very pleasant to the touch and... “you don’t have to sweep the sand from all over the apartment after you are done”. So, this gives our adult visitors another good reason to visit the next Christmas party at Expoforum in 2021!

E.Gram zone was equally as busy: it included a beauty salon for the girls, a barber shop for the boys and a photo zone. Can you guess the most popular looks?

The most unexpected and exciting experiment for the serious congress and exhibition center was the LIKEE Party, which was held on 4 and 5 January. The party was conceived as a component part of the New Year program, with an audience of... 13 million children and teenagers from the LIKEE social network in Russia. That's right, 13 million! No matter than only 6,000 participants were able to purchase tickets and join the fun at the event, since the possibility of live streaming online and sharing the event with the whole world made these two days far more “populated”. The lines to enter the so-called “streaming” areas proved that the virtual indeed merged with the real and that the participants could share these experiences within seconds! And while some people may not know such famous LIKEE bloggers as Milana Nekrasova, Nastya Kosh, Adisovna and Masey, their young fans were happy to take photos with them in the various photo zones. Dreams do come true, and making these dreams come true is the best gift we can give ourselves.

However, the five days of ExpoYolka 2020 at Expoforum were not only about progress or modernity.

“Boys like scary designs, and girls like glitter and lipstick,” according to Karina, a face-painting artist, neatly and amusingly summarizing children's tastes. The organizers carefully considered all manner of traditional and unconventional preferences that children might have! Mini-football, nerfing (firing soft balls from nerf blasters), and a ball pit were the favorite activities of restless and active children. However, Russian national handicraft and painting clay dolls in the Russian Hut interactive museum and the WoodSpace carpentry shop were popular among the more industrious visitors. Contrary to stereotypical expectations, girls also loved working with carpenter's planes and boys liked drawing multicolored fluffy cats, and a holiday message from Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden is a must-have for all generations. The only difference today is that now you can instantly upload your photo onto the web, whereas previously you had to wait for your photo to be developed.

Welcome to 2020! Don't be confused by the gadgets in your children's hands, or the unusual names of their young LIKEE blogger idols. As Troubadour, the character from “the Bremen Town Musicians” musical, says; “Love and friendship will always win!” and ExpoYolka will always help the virtual and the real come together and make communicating with your relatives especially memorable.

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