What to do in moscow during winter

Easy 2 Russia Tours, 2018

Travel to Moscow during winter is a unique experience, and you will not lack for things to do and see. Russians are experts at making the cold season fun and festive, so whether you are outdoors braving the chilly temperatures or indoors and safe from the cold, there are a variety of activities to keep you busy during this time.

Winter is time for the exciting winter festivals, enjoying ice sculptures and getting outside for skating and cross-country skiing.

Ice skating rink at Moscow's Red square, Moscow, Russia
Ice skating rinks are plentiful in Moscow during winter. In the heart of historic Moscow, there is an ice rink in front of the GUM department store in Red Square every year. There are more than 45 rinks in Moscow. Other popular ice skating rinks can be found at Gorky Park, Sokolniki Park, Izmailovsky Park, and Patriarch's Pond. Gorky Park usually features the largest artificial ice rink. It is so large that it is estimated that it can take 10 to 15 minutes on average to skate around the rink.
Icebreaker cruise on the Moscow river, Moscow, Russia
Boat cruises down the Moscow River offer a special view of Moscow. Previously only available during the warm seasons, you can take an icebreaker boat cruise that can break up the ice that crusts over the river during the winter. You can enjoy dinner or lunch during this 2-hour cruise while viewing the snow-capped sights of Moscow from within the glass-enclosed deck.

3. Ice Sculpture in Moscow

Ice sculptors show off their skills in Moscow during winter. Usually, scaled-down models of various parts of Russian cities are made of ice. Ice sculpting competitions are organized on an annual basis at various venues, including Sokolniki Park and Park Pobedy, and feature various themes. If you are traveling with the kids, check out the snow art school in Perovsky Park where they teach children how to build sculptures from snow and ice using special techniques.

4. Moscow Winter Festivals

Russians love to celebrate the winter weather and the holidays. Moscow's Russian Winter Festival coincides with other winter festivals across Russia, but due to its popularity and the city's resources, the Moscow version of the Russian Winter Festival is a huge event, running from mid-December to mid-January.

The Russian Winter Festival in Moscow is a major cultural festival celebrated on an annual basis with more enthusiasm and bigger events each year. Visiting Moscow during Winter Festival is an ideal time to go to experience Russian culture. Events at Izmailovo Park and the more central Revolution Square feature performances of traditional Russian song and dance, games, crafts, food, and more.

The Christmas Village at Revolution Square is an excellent place to shop for Russian Christmas gifts including traditional folk crafts like nesting dolls, wooden toys, and painted lacquer boxes. It's a great place to find unique Christmas ornaments and traditional winter-weather wear like shawls and valenki, traditional felt boots.

At Gorky Park, you can go ice skating or watch people play hockey. There's even cross-country skiing if it snows. Ice sculptures are a draw at the park.

What to see and to do?

Besides sampling Russian traditional wintertime foods, like bagels, jam, and tea, visitors to the Winter Festival in Moscow will be able to view Russian ice sculptures, take troika rides, and play traditional games. Ded Moroz, Old Man Frost, and Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, make appearances at the Winter Festival, too. The city sparkles with decorations that light up the night, and New Year's trees contribute to the festive atmosphere.

Past Russian Winter Festivals in Moscow have included displays of large, culturally significant ice sculptures. Over the years, the ice sculptures have included animals, cathedrals, a giant valenki, and an enormous ruble coin. There's a large-scale ice chess game that takes place between Moscow and London, which also hosts a Russian Winter Festival. The huge chess pieces, carved from ice, are a tradition with both festivals.

Other features of the Winter Festival in Moscow, like fur fashion shows and balalaika concerts, draw diverse crowds. You never know what aspects of Russian culture you'll encounter, and the displays are sure to be larger than life.

Some activities at the festival hearken back to Russian days of old but are still present in today's culture. Sledding, with or without snow, is a favorite game at the Moscow Winter Festival. Swings, replicas of those used in 16th-century Russia, are also put to use.

A troika ride may be one of the most exciting of the old-fashioned activities: three horses attached to a sled replace the warm-weather horse and carriage. You've seen the romantic Troika and beautiful horses in Russian folk art, movies like Dr. Zhivago, and paintings.

Winter in Russia can be dark but the Winter Festival lights up Moscow and creates an exciting, happy time in the middle of a cold season with short days.

Other popular winter festivals include Moscow's December Nights, New Year's Eve festivities in Red Square, and finally Maslenitsa, which heralds the end of winter and coincides with the start of the Lenten season.

5. New Year's Trees

Russians mark the holidays with New Year's trees rather than Christmas trees, but these trees usually stay up until the Russian Christmas is celebrated on January 7. Inevitably, trees will be erected at significant spots in the city, like Red Square and the Kremlin's Cathedral Square. These trees offer to travellers photo opportunities by day and night when they glow with their trimmings of lights.

6. Winter Sporting Fun

Winter sports, Moscow Russia
In addition to ice skating, more than 40 parks throughout Moscow offer dozens of ski tracks and walking paths. Ski tracks are largely illuminated and have heated locker rooms and rental points. Also, visitors to a majority of those parks can enjoy tubing and ice slides. Winter gear, including skates, skis, sleds, tubes, and snowboards, are available on-site.
We guarantee that your visit to Russia will surprise you and exceed your expectations in every way!