New Year and Christmas in Russia 2023

How to spend a week of holidays in Moscow. A guide by Anastasiia Shepeleva.

New Year and Christmas in Russia 2023

Photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash

For many international students, celebrating New Year and Christmas in Russia can cause some questions and difficulties. Despite the globalization of the world, each country has its own peculiarities regarding how to celebrate the holidays, and these wonderful New Year and Christmas holidays are no exception. 

In Russia, as in a country with a predominance of the Orthodox population and where Christmas falls on January 7, there is a different calendar of holidays, so it’s worth noting that in Russia the first week of January will be considered official non-working days in 2023. You will have one full week to relax and get ready for new deadlines in the new year. 

But this official holiday does not mean that nothing will work in Russia during this week, all shops will be closed and there will be absolutely nothing to do. On the contrary, from January 2, retail outlets resume their work as usual, as well as many events are planned so that people who have a rest during the New Year holidays can spend these winter days with benefits and fun. 

However, the night from December 31 to November 1 is celebrated on a much larger scale in Russia than Christmas on January 7. Therefore, if you want to listen to the president's traditional speech on TV or cook New Year's treats, then it's best to plan to do it on New Year's Eve.

Moscow, as the capital of Russia and just a big city, can be proud of the number of Christmas entertainments for every taste. For many of them, it is not even necessary to speak Russian.

Let's start with the Christmas markets and fairs that will run from December 2022 to mid-January 2023 in Moscow (some of them will work even until the end of winter):

  • One of the most popular is located on Red Square, next to the GUM store. If you arrive at the Okhotny Ryad metro station and go towards the Kremlin, you will definitely not miss it.
  • The next large-scale fair was spread at VDNKh - the most extensive exposition, museum and recreational complex located at the metro station of the same name.
  • You can find another one in Sokolniki Park, located on the red line of the Sokolniki metro station. 

In general, it was planned to open 70 fairs throughout Moscow, so when I walk around the city, just look around and you will definitely find something that will give you a Christmas mood. Also, in all the above-mentioned places there are very beautiful and large skating rinks, so you can practice this winter sport immediately after visiting the fair.

Moscow is also famous for its rich cultural heritage with numerous theaters, museums, and concert halls. On New Year's Eve on December 31, even many theaters and concerts are held in the capital. You can see the full list of events, for example, here (unfortunately, the list and the events are mostly in Russian).

Feel free to invite your classmates and dorm neighbors if they get bored too and don't know where to go to enjoy the New Year's atmosphere.

But, without leaving your home, you can also arrange a movie night with traditional Russian and Soviet films that every Russian invariably watches on New Year's Eve. Here is a list of the most popular of them, which will help you get to know Russian and Soviet cinematography, as well as a little better understanding of the New Year traditions so well reflected in the cinema:  

1. The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! (1976) - Soviet comedy and love story that happened on New Year's Eve.

2. Yolki also known as Six Degrees of Celebration (2010 - 2022) - The movies in the series are part of a Russian tradition known as the New Year's Movie, while movies set around the holidays draw on the spirit of potential, hope, and optimism that is associated with New Year's in Russian culture.

3. Charodei (1982) - Soviet New Year's musical comedy two-part film directed by Konstantin Bromberg and written by the Strugatsky brothers.

Thus, this article is a general summary of recommendations on what to do in Moscow on New Year's Eve, as well as how to get in the New Year's mood and enjoy the Russian winter. A whole week of time is a great opportunity to walk around the fairs, watch Russian and Soviet New Year's movies, and go skating in the most beautiful parks in Moscow. Let this article serve as a little help in determining what to do during the holidays. 

However, you can always find something new and creative. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone, and a lot of strength in the new school year!

Text by

Anastasiia Shepeleva