New Year Holiday, National holiday

31 December - 1 January 
14 January - Old New Year

New Year Holiday, National holiday

New Year Holidays in Russia last for over a week, beginning on New Year’s Eve and spanning up to Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. It is a beautiful time of festivity and celebrations in Russia.

On New Year’s Eve, families gather together for a festive dinner as they await the stroke of midnight. Traditional meals always include fish in jelly, Russian salads, herrings and sparkling wine. When the Kremlin clock strikes 12, fireworks explode in the sky, and everyone toasts for the happy new year ahead.

Everyone congratulates each other and exchanges gifts which had been previously left under a New Year Tree by Grandfather Frost, Ded Moroz (Russian Santa Claus). He often makes an appearance on New Year’s Day, along with Snow Girl, Snegurochka, his granddaughter. Many families go outside to lit fireworks and crackers, ride slides, build snowmen and cheer with neighbours.

On January 7th it is Russian Christmas which people celebrate by festive dinner and attending a mess in a church.

It is followed by yet another important holiday with a rather contradictory name - the Old New Year on January 14th. It is the date when the New Year was celebrated before the calendar was changed from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1918. Despite the introduction of  a “new New Year,” the Old New Year has never been let go and it marks the end to the week of festive celebrations.

Don't miss:

  • Attend the celebration in Red Square in Moscow, or watch it on TV to enjoy the elaborate fireworks, enjoy concerts and festive pop-ups nearby
  • Enjoy a Russian New Year festive dinner with Russian salad, red caviar, herrings and vodka as a must
  • Visit the magnificent GUM Department and TSUM Department Stores in Red Square and have a walk along Arbat Street in Moscow’s historic centre - the street is best place to buy souvenirs

Orthodox Christmas Day, National holiday, Orthodox

7-8 January 

Orthodox Christmas Day, National holiday, Orthodox

Visiting Russia for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will allow you to learn more about Russian culture while enjoying the traditional food and festivities. 

Russian Orthodox Christmas Day is celebrated 13 days after the Catholic - as per the Julian Calendar instead of the Gregorian Calendar used in the West.

Russian Christmas is preceded by the Great Nativity Fast which lasts 40 days and prohibits all the meats.
On the Orthodox Christmas Eve, when the first star is seen in the night sky, the fast ends for many. The Christmas feast consists of the sochivo, a porridge mixed with honey, poppy seeds, dried fruits, walnuts, and other ingredients; vegetable pies, salads, gingerbread, nuts, cookies and drink made of dried fruits.

After the meal, families go to church to take part in a midnight service.

If visiting Russia for Christmas, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful celebrations and activities as well as learn many interesting traditions.

Don't miss:

  • Attend a Russian Christmas Eve midnight service or watch one on TV. Visit Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square for the service to admire the beautiful architecture and Christmas celebration, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Murmansk or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in Volgograd
  • Attend the Russian Winter Festival, which runs from December 25th until January 5th annually. Enjoy traditional food, music, dancing, folk plays, sleigh rides and more. You can find such celebrations in most Russian cities

Free Museum Days in Moscow

3rd Sunday of each month

Free Museum Days in Moscow

The museums that are under control of the City Department of Culture offer free admission on every 3rd Sunday of the month. Please note that the federal museums such as the Tretyakov Gallery, the Historical Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts do not participate in this initiative. Long queues can be expected as there always many visitors who would like to use the offer.

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