In photos: A New Year's winter fairy tale in the streets of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan's cities are dressed up for the upcoming New Year, with preparations under way to say good bye to the old year and to welcome 2019.
By Aydar Ashimov
The streets of Astana are nearly empty because of the freezing cold, as residents stay at home and in their offices when temperatures dip below -30°C. [Aydar Ashimov]
The Akorda presidential residence in Astana can be seen December 26. In Karaganda Province, the thermometer will plunge to a record -40°C. Astana will see temperatures of about -30°C. Southern Kazakhstan will be warmer - between -12°C and 0°C. [Aydar Ashimov]
Baiterek Tower in Astana is shown December 25. Everything in frozen Astana is covered in ice and frost, including trees, building facades and outdoor public art. [Aydar Ashimov]
Every city in Kazakhstan has a New Year's tree. The Taraz central square is shown December 24. [Aydar Ashimov]
Even remote parts of Astana are festooned with lights December 25. [Aydar Ashimov]
Owners of stores, cafés, restaurants and other businesses decorate their windows with images of Grandfather Frost, the Snow Maiden, the New Year's tree and fairy-tale characters in Taraz December 26. [Aydar Ashimov]
In a small shop in Astana, a mother and son choose gifts on December 25, ahead of the New Year. Shoppers are busy buying New Year's gifts for relatives, friends and co-workers in the remaining days of 2018. [Aydar Ashimov]
An elaborately decorated tree is shown in Taraz's central square December 26. [Aydar Ashimov]
Residents of Taraz can have their photos taken with Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden December 26. The two popular figures are wearing costumes with a folk design. [Aydar Ashimov]
Sightseers stroll and take photos in Taraz's central square December 26. [Aydar Ashimov]
Children are excited by the decorations and lighting in Taraz's central square December 26. [Aydar Ashimov]
Central Asians begin trimming their own trees in early December. Munara Borombayeva, a Kyrgyz journalist, delights in Bishkek holiday decorations December 7. [Aydar Ashimov]
ASTANA -- Kazakhstan's cities are dressed up for the upcoming New Year, with preparations under way to say good bye to the old year and to welcome 2019.
Kazakhs will have December 31 through January 2 (Monday-Wednesday) off work or out of school.
During those days, all city governments host holiday events for children and provide different gifts, including toys, candies, clothing and school supplies, for those from low-income families.
Most Kazakh families will mark the New Year with a traditional feast that will include various meats and salads, fruits and champagne.
Kazakhs began celebrating New Year on January 1 about 150 years ago. Many now also celebrate Nawruz, a non-religious holiday in late March whose dates depend on the spring equinox.