This comprehensive travel guide will lead you through Moscow far beyond its postcard attractions


Official days off in 2020

 1-8 January - New Year and Christmas holidays
  23-24 February - Defender of the Fatherland Day
 8-9 March - International Women's Day
 1-5 May - Day of Spring and Labour
 9-11 May - Victory Day
 12 June – Russia Day
 4 November - People's Unity Day


1 January - New Year Day

In Russia, this is a gift-giving day instead of Christmas. Most people celebrate it at home with canonical sparkling wine, mayo-rich salads and much more on their tables. Gourmandising may last many hours after midnight. Some cafes and restaurants may be fully booked for private parties on the New Year Eve and several evenings before. Bridge holidays usually extend for more than a week after 1 January.

7 January - Orthodox Christmas

Celebration starts on the Christmas Eve with picturesque processions around churches, a good opportunity to see Orthodox banners and icons.

14 January - Old New Year

New Year Day in Julian calendar. Just another reason to celebrate.

19 January - Epiphany

In Russia, the most impressive action on that day is the Great Blessing of the Waters: worshipers dunk in holes carved in a frozen lake or river.

25 January - Students’ Day

Vibrant parties at university’ campuses follow dull official events. Beware of over-celebrating students at night.

29 January - Russian Vodka’s Birthday

On that day in 1865, Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev presented his thesis on mixing alcohol and water. His work had nothing to do with vodka production, but still it is a good reason to hoist a drink or more.

14 February - Valentine's Day

Westernised rising generation celebrate it like their coevals elsewhere in the world. Most Russians ignore the holiday.

23 February - Defender of the Fatherland Day

Now it is the day for all Russian men to get greetings and gifts from women. Originally, it was marked as the Soviet Army birthday in 1918. Enjoy spectacular fireworks at night.

Late February – early March (24 February - 2 March in 2020) - Maslenitsa

Once a pagan feast of parting with winter. Now the Orthodox Christians celebrate it during a week preceding the Lent. Non-believers willingly join them since the celebrations include tableful of pancakes - the symbols of the Sun - and other treats.

8 March - International Women’s Day


An occasion to demonstrate love and respect to women. Some cafes and restaurants may be booked for private parties the evening before the holiday.

17 March - Saint Patrick's Day

Quite a few of Irish wolfhounds and Irish setters walk their masters dressed in green in parks and along central streets. Many pubs in the city centre are overcrowded.

1 April - Day of Laughter

The same All Fools' Day. Beware of being fooled and do not miss a chance to fool somebody.

12 April - Cosmonautics Day

On that day in 1961, Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet Air Force pilot, did the first manned flight to outer space. Since then, the event has been a major source of pride for many Russians.

April – May (19 April in 2020) - Orthodox Easter

Celebrations start on the Easter Eve with picturesque processions around churches, a good opportunity to see Orthodox banners and icons. Canonical Lent-breaking treats include kulich (a cake with resins decorated with icing), paskha (a cottage cheese desert) and coloured hard-boiled eggs.

1 May - Day of Spring and Labour

The holiday is also known as International Workers' Day or Labour Day. Trade unions, communists and other left-wing political groups rally in the city centre. Bridge holidays begin for many Russians who tend to spend them out of town.

9 May - Victory Day

The day of the victory over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War (WW2). Festivities begin with a military parade in Red Square. Access to the square is limited, but public may see the troops and military machinery on Tverskaya Street.  After the parade, the Immortal Regiment procession starts: thousands of people carry flowers and portraits of their antecedents who fought in the war. Artillery volley and fireworks at night complete the celebration.

18 May - International Museums Day

Free admission to museums. Some museums feature special events.

24 May - Day of Slavic Writing Language and Culture

There is no single celebration scenario. At times, the date provokes splashes of nationalism.

25 May - Last Bell Day

High schoolers celebrate their last lesson. In the evening, streets are full of high-spirited youngsters.

12 June - Russia Day

The day of Russia’s formal withdrawal from the Soviet Union in 1990. Most Russians do not celebrate it seeing the date only as a day-off.

Late June - High School Graduation Day

Marked after the high schoolers pass leaving exams, this day involves much more vibrant celebration than the Last Bell Day. Loving and generous parents chip in together to entertain their offsprings. Some cafes and restaurants may be booked for private parties.

2 August - Paratrooper Corps Day

Unlike other military and ex-military, Russian paratroopers explosively celebrate their professional holiday, mostly outdoors.  Beware of unmotivated aggression from strong men wearing blue berets.

1 September - Day of Knowledge

The new academic year begins. In the morning, students line up in front of schools and universities with bunches of flowers to hear banalities like “live and learn” itching to share the summer holidays experience with their classmates.

Early September - Day of Moscow City

On the first or second Saturday of the month, festivities spread in colourfully decorated city centre with ear-splitting music, street stalls selling gifts and treats, and spectacular fireworks at night.

30 October - Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repressions

A mourning event usually takes place in Lubyanskaya Square, in front of the Soviet secret police headquarters, now the home of the Federal Security Service of Russia.

31 October - Halloween

Westernised rising generation celebrate it like their coevals elsewhere in the world. Most Russians ignore the holiday.

4 November - Day of People’s Unity

The holiday commemorates the popular uprising, which put the end to Polish occupation of Moscow in 1612. Besides official events, nationalists’ rallies (not always peaceful) are possible.

7 November - Day of October Socialist Revolution

The date is not celebrated officially. Communists and other left-wing political groups may peacefully march in the city centre.

25 December - Gregorian Calendar Christmas

The overwhelming majority of Russians do not celebrate it, but bridge holidays and the New Year and Christmas season begin for many of them.



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