Feeling Festive: Moscow’s Seasonal Skating Rinks
Feeling Festive: Moscow’s Seasonal Skating Rinks
So the snow is here to stay (along with the rain and sleet and whatever else was going on yesterday evening) and for me, a girl from a city that didn’t have a single snowflake last winter, that means getting ready for Christmas or, if you will be spending the festive period in Russia, New Year (Новый год). So I don’t think I’ve ever actually experienced a white Christmas but I sure as heck dream of one every year. I will be heading back to the UK just in time for the celebrations, but lots of the things I get stuck into as soon as Halloween is over are not the same or just not possible for me over here: normally by now I would have started the Christmas pudding and the mixture would be covered, sitting on top of the fridge, getting all juicy and lovely; I would have assessed the Advent Calendar ranges from all the leading supermarkets and chocolate brands and picked out a real good one; and by now my diet would consist mainly of mince pies and twiglets. Alas. But that doesn’t mean I cannot embrace Russian New Year traditions as we approach the festive season. One thing that has got me excited is the announcements we’ve had recently about when the many ice skating rinks of Moscow will open!
Okay so I am equal parts excited and terrified. Maybe I’m a tad more terrified than excited. If you saw my article last week about how to stay upright in the current weather, you’ll get what I mean: ice and me don’t get on so well. In fact I can safely say that I cannot ice skate. The last time I skated, I was the one that moved slower than my tortoise on a chilly day whilst everyone else whizzed around me like mad folk, having to dodge me like some inappropriately placed traffic cone on a motorway. The time before that I had approximately six friends holding me up at all times. These were both almost two years ago.
London has its own ice skating rinks set up at Christmas of course and visiting the one at Somerset House is a tradition for my cousins every December… but I am always too scared of the numbers of people and the wetness of the ice (London is barely cold enough to keep the ice solid) to join in… Not this time! I may not make it to Somerset House with the cousins, but I am sure gonna make it to some of the Moscow ice skating rinks – after all, who knows when I might ever get the chance again to skate on one of Europe’s largest rinks in my favourite place (VDNKh) or on Red Square with the possibility that Putin himself may take a glance out of the window and see me in all my figure skating glory! So my flatmate, who is also reassuringly terrified of skating but is willing to put that aside for the sheer entertainment factor of watching me on skates, and I are going to be hitting the ice this winter and we hope to see you there too – after all, falling down on an ice skating rink is acceptable even in Russia, so you may as well slip there than at the entrance to the Metro…
So here’s what Moscow has in store this winter. Please check out the websites to find out about their daily opening times as the rinks have breaks for resurfacing the ice and days off!
What: Described as the country’s “main ice skating rink”, it truly is huge, stretching from the Main Pavilion all the way to the Kamenniy Tsvetok (Каменный цветок) Fountain. With bright decorations celebrating the approaching New Year, the VDNKh rink is always a sight to behold. Preparations have already begun – I happened upon the rink construction last autumn and I must say it makes for interesting watching, as it’s not a quick process and, unlike smaller European rinks, it is not set up all of a sudden overnight.
Open: From 25th November 2016
Red Square (Красная Площадь)
What: GUM’s (ГУМ) annual ice skating rink on Red Square is another must-see. It may be smaller than others in the capital, but it is in the most iconic part of the city, with a view to St Basil’s and the Kremlin. Don’t forget to nip inside GUM after some skating for a winter ice cream, or enjoy some of the hot beverages that will no doubt be on sale in the winter market next to the rink.
Open: From 30th November 2016
What: The rock music themed rink at Sokolniki is going to circle the main alleys of the park, whilst the all-year artificial ice rink Lyod (Лед) will still be open in the park as well. This park is a favourite among Muscovites, but the natural ice rink, if as in previous years, will not have a rail around it and will be more like an ice road that you can skate on or walk/slide across if you are not visiting the park to skate. That does tend to make it a little trickier for less-confident skaters.
Website: http://park.sokolniki.com (the rink specific site appears to be having problems but you will be able to follow links on the park’s main site)
Gorky Park (Парк Горького)
What: This year, Gorky Park’s ice skating rink will be street art themed. How that is going to come together remains to be seen, but I am sure it will be something special. They have even promised a street art shop on the ice and an ice labyrinth! There will of course be lots of places to get refreshments too.
Open: From 17th November 2016
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you can expect to find more ice skating rinks opening across the city in places such as Kolomenskoe (Коломенское), Tsaritsyno (Царицыно) and Lyzhniki (Лужники). You can visit http://2017god.com/katki-v-moskve-2016-2017/ for more information. Don’t forget to wrap up warm and wear gloves! I look forward to seeing you on the ice…
Ellie, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow