Cosmonautics Day (День Космона́втики) in Russia

For more photos from the Cosmonautics Day festivities, check out the location pages for the Памятник Гагарину (Yuri Gargarin Monument) and аллея Космонавтов (Cosmonauts Alley)

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed the first manned space flight. The 27-year-old circled Earth in the Vostok 1 (Восток-1) spacecraft for one hour and 48 minutes, marking the opening of a new chapter in space exploration.

Now, Russia celebrates this achievement with Cosmonautics Day, in which ceremony participants process through a series of important commemorative landmarks. It begins near Gagarin’s statue in the city of Korolyov, moves to his grave in the Red Square’s Kremlin Wall Necropolis and continues through Cosmonauts Alley before concluding in Novodevichy Cemetery.

In the last decade, April 12 has also become the occasion to host “Yuri’s Night” worldwide as an occasion to inspire public interest in space exploration. As of 2011, the United Nations also adopted a resolution declaring April 12 to be the International Day of Human Space Flight.