The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ will be a massive event in the lives of its Host Cities, and you can already begin to sense an atmosphere of footballing celebration in some of them. Every month FIFA.com reveals the most interesting stories from the destinations preparing to welcome the World Cup. In our latest update, we feature an exhibition of football photography in Nizhny Novgorod, volunteer tours of the Mordovia Arena construction site, a 2018-inspired race in Ekaterinburg and a veteran's game in Samara.
*Nizhny Novgorod warms up for Russia 2018 with World Cup photos
*The FIFA World Cup is a whirlwind of emotions that captivates players and fans alike, but also the locals and visitors in the cities where the matches will be held. You can already begin to feel this excitement in Nizhny Novgorod, where a photo exhibition on the tournament was opened in the city's main tourist attraction, the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, on 14 October.
The exhibition, entitled Nizhny Novgorod welcomes the World Cup, was themed on the vast range of emotions that footballers and supporters experienced during the previous World Cup in Brazil. Photographers from leading information agencies around the world captured turning points in games, moments of triumph and despair, key decisions and the climax of matches. The images explain better than any words could what is in store for the city in 2018. At least one of the top four finishers at the next World Cup will play in Nizhny Novgorod, since six games will be staged here, including a Round-of-16 tie and a quarter-final.
*Volunteers visit Mordovia Arena*
**The Volunteer Centres set up in every Host City are taking a responsible approach to their preparations for the tournament. Members of the Volunteer Centre in Saransk even went on a tour of the Mordovia Arena construction site, where volunteers will be supporting the organisers at the World Cup.
"Every time I went past the stadium, I really wanted to go inside and find out what was going on," revealed volunteer Margarita Alyamkina. "And now I'm here! We had a look around everything: it was really amazing and the feelings are indescribable. Becoming a volunteer is cool!"
The Volunteer Centres are also getting actively involved in the campaign to decide the Russia 2018 Official Mascot. Their members have already voted for their favourite design out of the wolf, cat and tiger on the website talisman.fifa.com.
*2018-metre race in Ekaterinburg
*The World Cup atmosphere was very evident in Ekaterinburg during a mass race held in the city that stretched a symbolic 2018 metres.
The race was dedicated to the FIFA World Cup matches that will go ahead in Ekaterinburg, and the start point was the square outside the Ural Federal University where the Russia 2018 Volunteer Centre is located.
The contest attracted teams from all over the city, students from local universities, sporting families, disabled athletes and regional and city authorities. Everyone taking part was able to explore the interactive zone on Ekaterinburg as a Russia 2018 Host City, either before or after their race. Tens of thousands of people took part in the event.
**Football tournament in honour of Krylia Sovetov's 75th birthday*
*A host of football stars who represented either the Soviet Union or Russia over the years gathered in Samara to celebrate local club Krylia Sovetov's 75th anniversary. A tournament for Over-40 teams was also held to mark the occasion.
Of course, the upcoming World Cup, and the matches that will take place in the Samara Arena once the construction is completed, was the topic on everybody's lips.
"It's important for me that the next World Cup is taking place in Russia," said Sergei Gorlukovich, who represented the USSR and Russia at Italy 1990 and USA 1994 respectively. "This is mainly because the country's football infrastructure is improving thanks to the World Cup; new stadiums, football centres and training grounds are being built."