Winter in Moscow parks: Skates, skis, ice slides and snow sculptures

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Winter in Moscow parks: Skates, skis, ice slides and snow sculptures
Moscow parks are getting some finishing touches as they prepare for the start of winter: Gorky Park will be the first to open the new winter season on 17 November, and on 26 November, other parks will follow suit. What sort of entertainment is in store for city residents and guests of the city this coming winter?

Skating season gets underway

The winter season in Moscow parks will begin with the opening of artificial ice rinks. The first to open will be the ice rink at Gorky Park.

“The opening of the ice rink at Gorky Park on 17 November will herald the start of a massive winter programme,” said Alexander Kibovsky, Moscow Government Minister and Head of the Department of Culture. “On 26 November, all ice rinks will open as planned.”

On 26 November, many parks will host concerts, ice shows, performances by figure skaters, figure skating workshops, hockey matches and light shows. 

Forty-five ice rinks, including 24 with artificial ice and 21 with natural ice, will stay open throughout winter in 30 parks. In total, parks will offer 107,000 square metres of ice to skate on.  

Gorky Park will feature the largest artificial ice rink of 18,000 square metres. According to Park Director Marina Lyulchuk, it will take 10-15 minutes on average to skate around the rink. An eight-metre high ice fountain illuminated day and night will be put up at the centre of the rink. Another of the rink’s attractions will be a 60-metre illuminated tunnel. By the beginning of the winter season, the lighting of the ice will be completely replaced, with murals to be painted under the ice cover.

The ice rink in Sokolniki Park will be 5,400 square metres in size. When sub-zero temperatures become firmly established, natural ice rinks will open, with the Sokolniki alley skating area of almost 7,400 square metres becoming a record-breaking rink.

All rinks will have skate rental shops, skate sharpening services, locker rooms and heated cafes. There are plans to open 12 figure skating schools, four of which will offer free training, and seven ice hockey schools, including five free schools.

Admission to 18 rinks at parks, including 12 rinks with artificial ice and six with natural ice, will be free. At the rest of the rinks, skating fees will range between 150 roubles and 550 roubles and skate rentals will cost between 70 roubles and 350 roubles.   

Skis, ice slides and snow sculptures

Winter entertainment at parks will not be confined to ice rinks. Other attractions in 42 parks include 73 ski tracks and walking paths that, in all, are 170 kilometres long. Ski tracks are largely illuminated and have heated locker rooms and rental points.

Visitors to 29 parks will be able to enjoy 44 tube and ice slides. Winter gear, including skates, skis, sledges, tubes and snowboards, will be available on site at 105 rental points.

In winter, Park Pobedy will again feature scaled-down models of various parts of Russia made of ice. “On 24 December, a project entitled, A Moscow of Ice. A Journey Across Russia, will kick off at Poklonnaya Gora in Park Pobedy,” said Vyacheslav Dunayev, Director of Mosgorpark (the Moscow City Park Administration). “Miniature ice models of various Russian cities will be created there. Other attractions include a large Kremlin Wall with ice slides and a traditional fair.”  

Sokolniki Park will provide warm valenki ("felt boots") to warm feet. “This project is also referred to as Keeping Feet Warm,” said Andrei Lapshin, Director of the park. “Should winter be harsh, we invite everyone to sit on a bench without taking off their boots and warm their feet.”  

Other new attractions to be offered in winter include:

— a snowboard slope in Gorky Park;

— a laser biathlon track in Kuzminki Park. Since last year, this type of track has been available in Sokolniki Park; 

— bikes with snow tires in Kuzminki and Sadovniki parks; 

— a ski pavilion in Olimpiiskaya Derevnya park with locker rooms and rental services. Individual and group classes will be held every week; 

— a third ice rink in Sokolniki Park by Zolotoi (Gold) Pond. This will consist of forest paths with 2,500 square metres of natural ice;

—tube and ice slides in Tagansky and Fili parks, and the Olimpiiskaya Derevnya park;

— ski hire points in Mitino Landscape Park and the public garden in Olonetsky Proyezd; and

— a snow art school in Perovsky Park to teach children how to build sculptures from snow and ice using special techniques.

Holidays and training

The number of people visiting Moscow parks has been increasing with each winter. Last year, there were 16.7 million visitors and the figure for this year is estimated to be about 17.9 million, Alexander Kibovsky said.

This coming winter, the parks will continue to offer all sorts of regular classes to visitors, mostly for free. People can learn figure skating, ice hockey, running and Nordic walking skills. Kuzminki and Sadovniki parks will hold orienteering exercises.  

On 26 December, the parks will start running their festive New Year programmes, and on 31 December, they invite everyone to ring in the New Year. On 1-8 January, the parks will serve as venues for celebrating the New Year holidays and on 7 January, for celebrating Christmas.