Every year the center of Moscow turns into an enchanted holiday village, with tunnels of light, forests of decorated pine trees, streetlights transformed into chandeliers, and streets cleared of cars and filled with people. Music and the scent of hot mulled wine and holiday treats waft through the air.
This year the festival runs from Dec. 13 until Jan. 12 and will take place across 40 venues. But the main part of the festival is the city center: Pushkin Square and along the boulevard ring; along Tverskaya Ulitsa toward the Kremlin, with a big venue across from the mayor’s office; the trio of Manezh, Revolution and Theater Squares; and Red Square.
VDNKh Park also has a big program of events, as do many museums and libraries around the city. Master classes, performances, interactive events, and sports will keep kids busy and happy over the holidays. For parents, the good news is that most of the activities are free.
Red Square celebrates the season with an ice rink, because there is nothing more thrilling that twirling on skates under the Kremlin towers, with the cupolas of St. Basil’s Cathedral shimmering above. This year the theme is the country’s favorite children’s show “Good Night, Kiddies!” with decorations that celebrate the show’s 55th anniversary. There is a magnificent huge tree in front of GUM shopping arcade, which is beautifully illuminated.
Manezh Square is covered with a forest of Christmas trees sheltering a huge fair with guests from all over Russia and the world. Here Czech masters demonstrate glass blowing, French weavers make wreaths, and artisans share some of their delicious treats, crafts and souvenirs.
Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square) has more stalls from around the world – the Belgian waffle stand does brisk business – and one of the festivals two enormous Ice Theaters that doubles as a skating rink when there aren’t any performances. A few steps away the pedestrian street Kuznetsky Most is a maze of Christmas trees decorated by some of the country’s best designers. There is also great shopping in the arcade of Salon Moskovskykh Khudozhnikov (Moscow Artists Shop) at 11 Kuznetsky Most.
Around Pushkin Square
Tverskaya Ulitsa is rimmed by food and souvenir stands, and Pushkin Square hosts another big Ice Theater. Be sure to come in the evening and stroll down Tverskoi Bulvar through the magical tunnel of lights.
Follow the boulevard to Novy Arbat 21 to have a thrill snowboarding. A snow hill five and a half meters high, six meters wide and 30 meters long — protected by high railings — is waiting to receive all snowboarders, would-be snowboarders, and nervous parents and grand-parents of snowboarders.
In another part of town, on Shkolnaya Ulitsa you can stay on the ground and try your hand and sliding abilities at curling.
For more information on events, master classes, venues and shows, see the site