Yuri's Night Nanaimo, since 2013

Yuri's Night is an annual global celebration of achievements in human spaceflight. April 12 is the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first orbital flight in 1961, which made him the first human in space. By coincidence it is also the anniversary of the first Space Shuttle launch in 1981.

Every year, people around the world hold events to commemorate and celebrate this anniversary date. These events range in scope from educational gatherings and movie nights to full on theme and dance parties and everything in between.

Here in Nanaimo we first held a Yuri's Night party in 2013. It was a small private family get together. I have read of no other in our small town although it is certainily possibly there were others (in fact I sure hope there were others; come on space fans!!) Every year we try to do a little more and be a little bigger than the year before. My goal is to eventually hold a huge public event that people will come to from miles around, and which will instill a sense of deep appreciation for our space pioneers and an awareness of the absolute necessaity to continue our quest for the stars.

About this page

The goal of this page is to simply document the historical details of our parties to help other people who want to host their own. There are not a lot of references out there for planning a Yuri's Night party, and it can be tough to come up with projects and activities that work... especially for kids.


Type: private; immediate family only.

Attendees: Mum and Dad, kids age 3 and 7

Food: beef stroganof and borscht for dinner. Baltika 7 beer for dad.

Activities: We built lego rockets and space ships, and we watched some IMAX movies on DVD: 'Mission to MIR', 'Hail Columbia'.

We listened to online streaming russian pop music


Type: private; several families

Attendees: 7 parents, 8 kids (ages 4 to 8)

Food for parents: Russian cuisine including chicken stroganof, piroshki, borscht (better version than last year). Medovik for dessert. Baltika 7 and Russian Imperial Stout.

Yuri's Night food and beverage sample

Food for kids: almost all kids food was vacuum packed and labelled for storage on the ISS (in English and Russian). snacks included freeze dried strawberries, M&M's, and granola bars. Dinner was a choice of mac and cheese or meatballs and rice. To drink, each kid got one foil pouch of kool-aid. Note: all of the kids chose mac and cheese. the dinners were frozen, and heated for consumtion in a pot of boiling water (while still in their individual vacuum bag) -- since we do not have a freeze dryer.

Movies: IMAX movies on DVD played on a schedule: 'Mission to MIR', 'Hail Columbia', 'The Dream Is Alive', and 'Space Station'

Costumes: attendees were invited to dress up in space themed garb. only a few did. My son's costume was an Apollo "mission control guy".

Mission Control Costume

Activities: Primary activity was the kids space station (more on this below). There were parent/kid participation activities including building spacecraft and lunar landers/rovers, and building balloon rockets. Some things that were available but not used were the craft/coloring table with a papercraft space shuttle model, and a lego moonscape for photographing the vehicles that the kids had made.


Space Station: I built a space station out of cardboard and filled it with stuff for the kids to play with. It was approximately 1/3 scale interior (not really big enough for the adults) and included most of the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS. Detail included interior hatches that could be opened and velcroed in place, various items velcroed to the walls, elasticated storage bands in different areas, and a well appointed Zvezda module with folding table, radio communication (FRS radios), cozy kayutas (cabins), and a space toilet (nonfunctional). Additionally there was a Progress Cargo Vehicle docked to the top of the station which the kids had to unload (it contained all their space food,plus sleeping bags, pillows, and other "supplies").

Cardboard Space Station

Cardboard Space Station -- "Progress" Hatch Cardboard Space Station -- FGB

An item that was intended but did not happen was to send the kids home with a commemorative yuri's night event badge. Everyone did get a Yuri's Night sticker.

The kids ended the night with their own impromptu dance party

some reference documents from 2014:


In 2015 we intended to hold a public event in the local park but this never came to fruition. Something we designed but did not implement was a 'survivor' style "obstacle" course with space-themed challenges; kids would be timed, best time for each age group wins a prize. There would be space themed refreshments (vaccum packed snacks), and static display of space info (possibly as it relates to each stage of the obstacle course challenge). I also hoped to have a 2/3 scale mockup of a soyuz, and possibly even another well apportioned Zvezda module (a little more robust than than the previous year) but did not have time for any of this. I looked into showing movies on a screen in the park, even if free there is a standard fee you have to pay which is nontrivial and really not affordable.


We had a family dinner with a Russian theme, ate plov, shuba, & borsch, listened to Russian radio. We iced shuttle cookies and watched The Martian.


Another simple family affair where we watched a few IMAX movies including Mission to MIR, iced space shuttle cookies, and had plov for dinner ( the kids really like this recipe). I made an information poster about Yuri Gagarin and Vostok, the panels can be found here

contact information

if you have questions or wish to collaborate, please contact me (james) at my g-mail address, which is "sema4.v"