Moscow is known for its decadent rich party life. Many of you may want to come here to experience a New Years Eve in Moscow. Personally, I can only advise you to NOT do so, but if you decide to do it, you should know the following…
Why it is not a good idea
During the Soviet times religious holidays were prohibited. The Russian orthodox Christmas is much later, than ours, on Jan 7th. While the soviets didn’t allow Christmas celebrations the smart Russians found a work around and celebrated Christmas a bit earlier, on New Years Eve. Things didn’t change much after the Perestroika and Christmas is still celebrated together with the change of the years.
That being said, you must unerstand that NYE is a family holiday. A Christmas tree is setup in the main room and presents are put below it. The family gets together and has dinner (usually with lots of vodka as well). At midnight the family watches the presidents speech and after salutes the new year with a drink. Very often, they write their wishes for the upcoming year on a piece of paper and burn that in a glass. The NY toast is made with that glass and the ashes drunk with some sparkling wine.
Some families burn fireworks and there are official fireworks, but in my opinion there are much less fireworks than in Europe or the US. Temperatures are often below -15C during that time and most people prefer to stay in the warm, rather than being outside in the freezing cold. Some fearless people, mainly tourists from Russia, go to Red Square, to watch the main clock turn to midnight and hear the presidents speech on a big screen there. The cities main fireworks are also performed down there on the river. But, you’ll have to pass a lot of security checks, stand in lines and you are not allowed to take any alcohol with you. Yes, that’s right. No alcohol! And again, it will be freezing cold. Especially with that cold wind, blowing over Red Square.
So what is going on during New Years Eve in Moscow?
Yes, there are parties in the cities best clubs, bars and restaurants, although many are also closed that night. Most of these events will only get busy after 1:00 or even 2:00 am, when the family events at home finish and the drunken bodys drag themselves to the after-party somewhere. Of course there are also tourists and people without families, who celebrate the NYE from the beginning with a proper dinner, drinks and a party. You can expect the prices to be double, during NYE.
We just checked the deposit prices / minimum spend for the cities best venues for this years NYE and they are even 3x of what they usually take. Many venues also have a NYE menu with variations, which you need to pre-order and pay a good amount of money for.
Our top picks for this years New Years Evening party in Moscow are:
The Toy – One of Moscows top pre-party venues with a dinner show
The Ritz Carlton / O2 Lounge – They will run an ice bar on their terrace, overlooking Kremlin. Probably a good place to see the fireworks as well.
SOHO Rooms – Lounge on their Pool Terrace, roofed with glass and heated. Enjoy a good view on the fireworks and a great party.
Ruski or Sixty – Up high on a skyscraper these restaurants offer an excellent kitchen and a nice party. The best will be the view from up there (up o 365m above Moscow), if you are not celebrating in the clouds, because of bad weather.
Birds – The cities new party venue is 365m high and offers a nice view towards the end of Moscow.
The (2) week(s) after the New Years Eve in Moscow
From the day after until after the Russian orthodox Christmas and beyond, the city is half empty and many businesses are closed. Especially bars, restaurants and clubs. Who can afford it, will leave the city before NYE and spend the NYE winter holidays in the mountains or the sun. The others may retreat to their datchas, their country houses, for the holidays.
The famous Afterhour Club Gazgolder runs a very good (and usually busy) party a few days after NYE and with Propaganda (full of students) it is the only good party during the winter holidays. Everything else really only starts to get busy after January 15th again.
So don’t say, I didn’t warn you, if you still want to come to celebrate your New Years Eve in Moscow, after reading this. In my opinion and many Moscovites (who decide to leave for the holidays themselves), there are better places to celebrate the change of the year.