Hands down, Moscow it one of the best places in the world for ice skating. Why? Because Moscow's ice rinks are not just a part of festive decorations which pop up on Christmas markets. Outdoor skating rinks in Russia open in major parks and squares, as well as on ponds and lakes as early as November and last into March. It's one of Moscovites' favourite winter pastimes, and a primary way to attract visitors to Moscow's parks in winter.
It's time to take advantage of Moscow's most iconic scenery in winter and explore these atmospheric ice rinks.
Arguably the most picturesque ice skating rink in the world, GUM Ice Rink is located spot on in the middle of Red Square. Get your skates on and glide gracefully along the Kremlin wall if you're a pro or pick a bear or pengin-shaped skater's assistant to hold onto if you're a bit wobbly. Mind it, it's really hard not to get distracted by the candy-coloured twirling domes of St Basil's Cathedral or the Spasskaya Tower's iconic bongs.
Formerly the largest ice skating rink in the world, this year VDNH Park stepped up and added one more rink around the Vostok rocket, along with the tubing slide, curling rink and yukigassen pitch for snowball battles. The grand Soviet pavilions, spaceships and airplanes make for a stunning setting for a 13000-square metre ice rinks. There're several food stalls on the ice rinks where you can grab a sandwich and get some hot tea without taking your skates off.
Gorky Park is celebrating its 90th anniversary in style with a themed ice rink called The Happy People Factory, name coined by British writer H.G. Wells during his visit in 1934. The ice rink features several industrial-themed art objects including a neon conveyor belt and a massive chimney stack. There's an outdoor food court serving up all kinds of dishes and a fire pit to warm up between the skating sessions. Come here during the weekends for live performances and DJ sets played live from the glass Media Cockpit built specially for the ice rink.
Spanning 5300 sq.m., the Lyod features neon rink boards immitating the Northern lights and illuminated archways creating that special festive mood. Italian café Mercato just off the rink makes for a good spot to watch other skaters and relax between the sessions. The Giant boasts a 17000 sq.m. of natural ice which covers the Sokolniki's circle parkway and the surrounding paths. The latter is free although the skating season is expectedly shorter for it.
The Hermitage Gardens in Central Moscow also features two skating rinks. The refrigerated ice rink is perfect for starters with 900 square metres of ice to play with and cosy rinkside cafés to quench your thirst with a warming drink. The second rink featuring natural ice is winding through the Hermitage Garden pathways creating an idyllic winter wonderland setting.