Local Tree to Adorn Kremlin

The country's main New Year's tree in recent years has been brought in from Veliky Ustyug, a village about 1,000 kilometers northeast of Moscow that is considered the home of Grandfather Frost.

But the Kremlin this year has revived a decades-old tradition of selecting a towering fir tree from the Moscow region to place on Cathedral Square for revelers.

The 30-meter, 10-ton tree is around 100 years old and is the centerpiece for three daily performances for more than 5,000 children invited from all over the country to celebrate the holidays in Moscow.

Visitors will be able to admire the tree while visiting the Kremlin's museums through Jan. 14, the day holiday celebrations end, on the Old New Year's, Presidential Property Department spokesman Viktor Khrekov said.

As always, however, the highlight of the holidays will be the New Year's Eve festivities on Red Square and three other downtown squares, followed by President Vladimir Putin's final New Year's address before the end of his second term in May. The speech will be followed by a fireworks display.

Next to the Kremlin, revelers on Red Square will be able to listen to choir music and hundreds of bells ringing before watching Putin's address on giant screens Monday evening. A Russian folk music concert will be held after the fireworks.

There also will be a special New Year's Eve ice skating session in a rink on Red Square from 10 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Admission to the rink will be, appropriately, 2,008 rubles ($81), and only 300 tickets remained as of Thursday, a woman at the ticket box said by telephone.

A brand new skating rink next to City Hall on Tverskaya Ulitsa is free of charge.

Traffic will be closed from 10 p.m. until the end of festivities on Tverskaya, Mokhovaya, Ilinka and Okhotny Ryad ulitsas; Teatralny and Lubyansky proyezds; and Vasilyevsky Spusk.

Moscow's metro will be open until 2 a.m. on New Year's night, an hour longer than usual, but many downtown stations will be exit-only after 10 p.m. that night, according to metro's web site.

The stations that will be exit-only on Saturday include: Lubyanskaya, Kitai-Gorod, Kuznetsky Most, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya, Chekhovskaya, Borovitskaya, Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya, Mayakovskaya and Biblioteka Imeni Lenina.

Commuter trains will also run until 2 a.m., an hour longer than usual, according to the metro's web site.

Seventy-six percent of Russians will stay home on New Year's Eve, while around half of people aged 18 to 24 will head out to celebrate, according to a VTsIOM poll.