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.