Moscow’s Best Ice Sculpture Festivals in 2019-2020
What are the best ice-festivals in Moscow?
- Victory Park: Sadly, the best ice sculptures in Moscow aren’t on display for very long. But their brevity only makes them more special.
- VDNKh: The park which boasts the world’s largest ice rink, knows its ice. It’s best to come at night to this exhibition as dazzling lights bring the sculptures alive!
- Solkonikki: Both the Northern lights and emperor penguins can be seen in Moscow. *Disclaimer: The penguins may appear a little frozen and the lights appear on a screen rather Izmailovsky Park: The candy-cane striped domes of Izmailovsky palace provide the perfect backdrop to an icy wonderland where legendary snowball battles take place.
- Luzniki Metro: Fun seldom means free, except at Luzniki metro where it does! Dozens of fantastical ice sculptures will be open for all to see in the park opposite the metro.
Legend has it that hundreds of years ago two Russian men went ice-fishing. So engrossed were they in watching their lines that they failed to notice a snow storm hurtling towards them. The next morning, the locals found the fishermen exactly as they had been the day before, crouching over their ice-holes— frozen in time. But instead of shocking the villagers, this sorry sight inspired them to try carve figures from ice. Ever since that fateful day, ice sculptures have been at the center of Russian winter celebrations. Though other sub-arctic nations, such as Canada, have also taken a whack at ice sculpting, no one does it better than the Russkies.
Starting in late November each year, Moscow’s parks are filled with everything under the sun— except, that they aren’t really under the sun per say. For if these elephants with bejeweled maharajas on their backs, or fairy-tale castles with slides swooping down from their towers, were to be so much as 1c above freezing they’d dissipate into nothing. And that is where the magic lies.
Fittingly for the land of ice and snow, Russia’s capital boasts not one but dozens of ice sculpture festivals. Here are the top five to see this winter:
“Ice Moscow” at Victory Park is the star of Moscow’s ice exhibits; but sadly, as with all good things, it doesn’t last very long. From December 28th until January 12th, a whole host of fairytale creatures, magnificent flora and ancient architecture, standing in both the open air and climate-controlled tents, will stretch throughout the park. More than a few hours are needed to take in the beauty and scale of it all. With that in mind, make sure you arrive early so as to have time afterwards for a few rides down the gigantic ice-slides or “Kremlin hills” as the locals call them. Those with kids should keep an eye out for a stage on which wonderfully entertaining shows will be held.
Tickets should cost around 350 rubles/adult and 250 rubles/child.
VDNKh is also particularly well known for all things icy: boasting the world’s biggest open-air ice rink! So when it comes to ice sculptures, they certainly don’t disappoint. Last year, there was a seemingly never-ending maze which was made entirely out of ice. This year’s concept is still up to conjecture, but it won’t be for long. Weather dependent, the sculptures are generally on display by the end of November and are up all the way until March 10th, meaning there’s plenty of time to see them. Unlike with Victory Park, the later in the day you come, the better. Though the crowds at this ever-popular park may be no less packed at 10pm than at 11am, thanks to ingeniously positioned lights, at night the sculptures are literally aglow with life!
Open 11am-11pm daily.
Tickets cost between 200-300 rubles per person.
Though Moscow is quite some distance from the North Pole, there’s a park called Sokolnikki which is just a couple of metro stops from the city center that feels every bit as enchanting as Santa’s home. From ski trails to tubing slides, all the ingredients for a winter wonderland can be found within Sokolnikki’s sprawling grounds. The ice-sculptures at this park are especially authentic, as they are molded from pristine river ice. But what really makes this event stand-out is not the ice-sculptures themselves, but rather their backdrop. Swirling and shimmering above the sculptures, the northern lights in all their many colors can now indeed be said to be seen in Moscow. Now if that isn’t a Christmas miracle, I don’t know what is!
Open daily from 10:00-21:00.
Tickets cost 350 roubles/adult and 50 roubles/child.
The candy-colored domes of Izmailovsky Palace seem absolutely surreal when topped off with a sprinkling of snow. And, with the aid of troikas, husky-sleds and ice-bastions, it isn’t at all difficult to imagine how Ivan the Terrible’s children might have spent their Christmases. Indeed, for those with children, Izmailovsky Park is the best place to visit, as many of its ice sculptures (think giant castles and igloos) aren’t roped off and can be fully enjoyed. The snow ball fights that go on between the ice forts here are legendary!
Tickets vary from 150 to 350 roubles.
Metro Station Luzhniki
Moscow can be rather expensive when compared to the rest of Russia but thankfully, when it comes to ice-sculptures, everyone can join in the Christmas spirit. At the metro station Luzhniki, a free-for-all, snow kingdom will be open from December 15th until January 15th. As it is free, the size and variety of sculptures really depends on how bountiful the first snows are but, if the Russian winter lives up to its reputation, then one can expect to see giant polar bears, characters from Russian traditional folk-tales and much, much more.
Learn about other winter activities in Moscow.