KaminKon 2019, at the welcoming hearth

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 Eng | Rus

© Feärine 2019. All rights reserved

The KaminKon of 2 days filled with costumed parties is in the Northern capital, Saint Petersburg, the third largest Tolkien event in Russia (with over 300 participants).

Prologue

“At the KaminKon's Tolkien's birthday gather noblemen, archers and roosters with sharp swords, soft-handed needlewomen and maidens with fruit baskets, craftsmen in love with their art, bards and minstrels in a medieval castle.”

(My article in Russian “Tolkien events around the globe, or how to meet Bilbo and Gandalf in contemporary Middle-earth” (shorter version in English), 2019)1

A. Introduction

St. Isaac's Cathedral in autumn

The Sun is playing with the green of the leaves and the yellow and read is starting to appear on them when I arrive into St. Petersburg for KamiKon, presumably the 3rd largest Russian convention of Tolkiendili, in the Northern capital, as Saint Petersburg is called.

A journey that lasts around 4 hours on modern-day train from Germany (called “Sapsan” in Russian, a name of the falcone bird2, and very much like the German ICE steel birds) ends in the centre of Saint Petersburg, at the obelisk that commemorates the victims of Leningrad (earlier name of the city during Soviet times) in the WWII.

The clouds are darkening in the autumn sky as I ride into the North from the summer-felt capital, the warm at this time Moscow, far into the cold where the first snow has already fallen.

The air is fresh with the smell of the sea as the birds soar up high into the sky warming up.

There are unfamiliar to Moscow ear names like “Finelinery” (names that sound unfamiliar to Moscow ear like a memory from long lost times) and “Lakes” apothecary, and many buildings are adorned with lions or griffons.

Saint Petersburg has a lot of bridges over the city's many rivers and canals, and stands on the Neva delta leading up to the sea.

The city is famous for its street musicians, white nights, polite dwellers, museums, bridges, rivers and channels, golden-winged lions (griffons), and maritime flair.

There are a lot of ground level windows and basement shops and cafes, and there's a window pane called “Baggins coffee” (between two houses).

The low quarters and other buildings still keep the memory of the WWII, and there is a “Keep to the other side of the street when there's art bombardment”3 sign in the heart of the northern capital, at the Nevsky prospect itself. Many tours tell of the history of the city during this war, including the Leningrad siege and the Road of Life and its final breaking. Now there are also a lot of boat cruises which are quite popular on every corner (for almost every corner in St. Petersburg, or at least in its centre, has a river, a bridge, and a cathedral), as well as the modern hop-on/hop-off excursions on buses.

There are a lot of literary cafes (like “Book store of the writers” on Nevsky prospect) and art venues in the town.

St. Petersburg is often called the cultural capital of Russia.

B. Day-by-day breakdown

  1. Day 1: The heart of north
  2. Day 2: The queen of dawn

1. Day 1: The heart of north

The KamiKon sign

The tavern

The tent

The Vasilyevsky congress hall is on one of the islands of the city (Vasilyevsky as the name foretells), and it is across the most famous bridge of St. Petersburg, the Dvortsovy bridge leading from the central Nevsky prospect running through the city's streets into the further areas.

It is a pleasant walk, yet a strange one, for away from the central streets the glow and gleam of the palaces stays aside, while other places are starting to appear like the docks visible during the boat tour through the Northern islands (or the larger bridges).

Vasilyevsky congress hall is not open for everyone; a building with the tall columns lit by the sun many could not encounter at once, hidden at the bank of the river with the bent trees centre of Tolkienology meets its guests with a KaminKon sign and loud singing from one of the central halls. I arrive a little later than the opening to the sounds of a song, a woman's voice, heard from above; my report in the Tolkienology is one of the first, the nearby tavern is full of people, and in Georgievsky hall an event is being prepared.

On the 2nd floor there's the registration table, a wardrobe and two halls — Entmoot and Gundabad, as I learn later; but first my path leads through the Philippovsky hall (Tolkienology) by at the tavern and tent.

Tables of the traders looking like a medieval picture

Jewellery at the fair

Shields and banners

Among the fair tables there's the central square place on the 3rd floor in front of the loud musical hall. An impressive stair with the pictures and carpets leads to the tables of the traders.

“Herr Dietrich, you just caught a next victim.”

— From the KaminKon corridors

“Musqueteers” of the Dmitrievsky hall

A sword hilt and a horn

A tent and the registration desk

The cries in Dmitrievsky hall remind me of the shouts of musketeers; “the magical drinks”, the goblets and costumes flicker in the sunlight.

A young knight leads the ladies into the tavern by at the Gundabad where as I am being told there's the horrible Orcs' casino (game) happening and people can get captured.

At the registration desk I learn there are about 150 people at the event, including the volunteers, organizers and participants of the musical unit. This is the only place where it's quiet and calm; in others in flocks there wander people and outcries are heard.

“I don't know the person's name, I just recognize his face.”

— From the KaminKon corridors

Pavel Moskvin showing archery techniques

Flute and guitar

The ships, element of the hall decoration by loving hands

Pavel Moskvin, the organizer, speaks about the arms for the roleplay games in the tent. Flute and guitar are heard again in the central music hall while in Saint Petersburg there blows a warm wind.

In the window there flies a single helicopter on the background over the green and orange leaves.

More than ever I notice people in their phones checking news, although some are doing embroidery.

The ”Free wind” group sings songs to the poems of Morinaro in Elvish.

“What kind of people are there without knives?”

— From the KaminKon corridors

Behind the window where on the windowsill ships and lanterns are hiding shines the bright sun and flows the river, and at the pier there stand the large boats.

After my second report I run into Alwdis who invites me to her birthday with red chrysanthemums. Silkano's (Pavel Moskvin, the organizer) report on Faramir's battle precedes guitar “by round“ (passed from hand to hand) in tavern and Alwdis' performance who presents her books.

“I as a writer was more smart than I am as a human.”

— From the KaminKon corridors (Alwdis)

The preparation for the feast begins, while in role games section there's talk about how best to play orcs — “as loosers who just waste everything they have”.

Central place on the 3rd floor

The feast in the evening of the 1st day

The illumination of the table and food at the feast

The feast is in the darklit room with the lights of the small blue lanterns, with the songs of minstrels and the faces all shining with Elvish smiles and hobbit laughter.

In the sky above Saint Petersburg there's a huge firework as I walk out into the night.

In the Dvorstovaya square there are fire jugglers and at Bolshaya Konyushennaya “My rock-n-roll” is being sung (a famous Russian rocksong). Street musicians are performing all through Saturday night in the streets of the city.

There are white silhouettes of birds in the night sky.

2. Day 2: The queen of dawn

Preparation of the hall for the ball

Alwdis report on wolves and wargs

The band dance

Both Dvortsovy bridge and Blagoveshchensky bridge lead to the Vasilyevsky island from the Nevsky prospect in the centre of the city, the first one straight on the right tip of the island (by the Hermitage and Dvortsovaya square) and the other almost around on a more scenic route through the St. Isaac's cathdedral.

The birds circle in the cloud filled sky and the air is warm.

While the ball is being prepared Alwdis is talking about wargs and wolves (and answering questions of the wights).

Ladies in long dresses are gliding through the hall while men in caftans embroidered with gold and flowers hurry to meet them. Circlets and flowers on the heads of the participants are full of berries and flowers of Yavanna, while the preparation of the ball is getting late. A lot of couples are holding hands, how it often happens. The repetition begins.

City on the river goes to sleep while the train carries me towards already snow swept Moscow.

C. Conclusion

A 2-day welcoming and bright KaminKon is over while the night gathers over Saint Petersburg once again on Sunday, and before long the year will be over, and a new one will start with the birthday of J. R. R. Tolkien to look forward to.

D. Things I liked and disliked

Traders with mobile phones

Things I liked

  1. An array of events, costumes, and memories
  2. Huge involvement of the organizers into the process
  3. People love what they do from the fair to the concert and the reports and registration
  4. A lot of volunteers perform perfectly in all sections
  5. Different rooms, topics, and feelings

Things I disliked

  1. A lot of running around before the beginning of each event
  2. Distance from the city centre (although enlightened by scenic walks and the beauty of the location and how if fits the event)
  3. The event has more of entertainment character rather than educational or informative (to my liking)
  4. A lot of attention being paid to costumes and entertainment rather than the contents of the reports
  5. Few enlightenings

Things I especially liked

  1. The way the building seems to gladden up with its old looking stairs and carpets to the arrival of the Tolkiendili
  2. The expressions of joy on all faces and the feeling of a great feast and ball that's generally around
  3. The involvement of so many creative and passionate people becoming visible in the form of the event
  4. Attention to detail, like small ships decorating the windowsill and flowers on the stands
  5. A lot of like-minded people coming together in one place under one roof in a very homely atmosphere of friends

E. Photographs

Photographs by Jorunn (see more)

The marquee and the landlady

A round

“Pirates” at the convent

Photographs by Arvi (see more)

Bands and dances

Young pair at the ball

Spinning

Photographs by Posadnik (see more)

Iria's arias

Souvenirs

A game

Photographs by Uldor (see more)

Listeners

Awards and organizers

Guests of the marquee

F. References

— Official KaminKon page (Russian)

Photographs and videos
— Official KaminKon videos
— My videos (published soon)

G. Articles about Tolkien events

Articles about Tolkien events in Moscow and worldwide

Articles about Tolkien events in Moscow and worldwide, a faerie tale adventure full of hopes, smiles and surprises.

A wonderous tale of modern-day encounters with Elves, faeries, and other creatures in our universe.

I travel a lot, and visiting Tolkien events worldwide has become one of my favourite activities. The adventures, the hidden treasure behind secret doors, and the courage to follow the path of awakening are all there in my articles about the places that I visit and people I meet.

Here are always the most recent entries followed by an impressive list of previous articles which might some day become a book or a magazine for those who love and care about Tolkien's legendarium.

A great adventure lies behind, while another one awaits.

Oxonmoot, a path through history, Sept 2019
Special feature: Interviews 

Exclusive

Tolkien 2019, on the edge of the faerie, Aug 2019
Special feature: Interviews 

Exclusive

First Tolkien-only museum opens in Moscow, Apr 2019
Special feature: Interviews 

Exclusive

A journey into the Tolkien's legendarium on this Earth and the events that happen around the globe when the adventure begins.

Remarks:

1 The Kaminkon organizers also host Tolkien's birthday in January and other events throughout the year.

2 “Sapsan” (Russian): peregrine falcon.

3 Russian: “Граждане! Во время артобстрела эта сторона улицы наиболее опасна!” (“Citizens! During art bombardments this side of the street is the most dangerous!”)

© Feärine 2019. All rights reserved

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