Led by some famous Russian faces, while featuring lively dances and skating on the ice, the celebrations for International Volunteer Day on the largest ice rink in Europe were crammed full of special surprises. The packed festivities included the announcement of a world record, a concert from Host City Ambassadors for Nizhny Novgorod Uma2rman and a video message from Alexander Ovechkin.

Even though there are still three weeks until 30 December, when the application period closes for volunteers at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 and Russia 2018, a new world record has already been set. Never before in the history of the FIFA World Cup™ have so many people expressed an interest in volunteering at this massive event: so far in the region of 160,000 applications have been received.

Guests at the celebrations enthusiastically shared their emotions with the presenters, Russia 2018 Ambassador Yana Churikova and sports commentator Vladimir Stognienko. “Volunteering is part of my life,” said volunteer candidate Elena from Moscow. “I want to take part in the Confederations Cup and World Cup because I love helping people and sharing my energy and positive attitude.” 

On the ice, TV presenters and journalists, Maria Komandnaya and Pavel Zanozin, the Russia 2018 Host City Ambassador for Nizhny Novgorod, helped the hosts to entertain and interact with guests. Music for the party was provided by former Russia goalkeeper-turned-DJ, Ruslan Nigmatullin.

“Volunteers are the foundations of preparations for the World Cup,” said LOC CEO Alexey Sorokin. “Fans and participants at the tournament don't see us, the organisers. They see you, with your smiling faces, amiability, kindness and willingness to help. We've received nearly 160,000 applications from prospective candidates, breaking the records for all tournaments in history. Thank you for expressing a desire to be part of the biggest footballing event in the world.”

Special guests included Pavel Zenkovich, Chief of the Presidential Directorate for Social Projects, Alexey Palamarchuk, Acting Chief of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, and Nikolay Gulyaev, Head of Moscow’s Department of Sports, who congratulated volunteer candidates on the “professional” celebration. They also noted the huge importance of the volunteering programme for the upcoming major football tournaments in Russia – the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ and FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017.

The 11th Ambassador for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ was also unveiled at the festival, with actor and TV presenter Sergei Svetlakov becoming the latest standard-bearer for the competition. “I'm very pleased the World Cup is finally coming to Russia,” Svetlakov declared. “I'm a long-time fan and it feels like I've been dreaming of this for decades. I guarantee the World Cup will proceed in an excellent manner in my native Ekaterinburg!”

There was another surprise in store for the volunteers, as Russia 2018 Ambassador and ice-hockey star Alexander Ovechkin sent a video message to the event. He addressed the volunteers live from hockey training, congratulating them and wishing health and happiness.

Attendees enjoyed a diverse programme, including performances by the Kings on Ice figure-skating team and Mad Sports acrobats, which ended up in a creative battle spanning across the stage and the ice below.

The 1000 Smiles flash mob formed a Mannequin Challenge, seeing them freeze in different poses and adorned with the biggest smiles they could produce! All the ice rink’s visitors could watch the event on a huge screen near the stage, too.

A unique guest at the party was the Russia 2018 mascot, Zabivaka the wolf, who danced, skated, posed for photos and even played an energising DJ set!

Rock band Uma2rman provided a fitting finale to the evening, firing up the crowd with a concert including some of their most popular hits. The group's frontmen Vladimir and Sergey Kristovsky are also Russia 2018 Host City Ambassadors for Nizhny Novgorod.

Applications to volunteer at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 and 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ can be submitted at the FIFA.com/volunteers website 30 December 2016. The only requirement is that volunteers for the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 must be 18 years old by 10 May 2017 and volunteers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ must be 18 by 10 May 2018. In total, more than 5,500 volunteers will be involved in hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 and 15,000 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.