Last updated on November 9th, 2019
Hi there! So you found this post and it probably means that you’re considering visiting Moscow in winter and you might be looking to visit the Christmas Market in Moscow. Well, you’re in the right place! In this post, I will tell you all about Moscow in December (and other winter months), what to pack for Moscow in winter and how to enjoy Moscow Christmas Market! I originally wrote this post in 2016, but I updated it in October 2019 with a lot of relevant information.
If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza. Born and raised in Russia (not in Moscow though, but its main “rival” – St. Peterburg), I now call London my home. However, I haven’t cut ties with my motherland and I visit it very often. I also love helping people visiting Russia so they have the best possible experience and that’s why I have so many posts about Russia on Tripsget.
Let’s start with the Christmas Market in Moscow. By the way, Christmas in Russia is NOT celebrated on the 24th of December. While you can go to Moscow on your Christmas break and have a great time, Russians will still have two weeks until the Christian Orthodox Christmas on the 7th of January. Christmas is not that big in Russia anyway.
Due to its communist heritage, New Year is kind of more important than Christmas. New Year is when Russian Santa Claus (Ded Moroz) comes with presents and when everybody gathers together in front of the New Year’s tree (aka Christmas tree in the Western World).
Christmas Market in Moscow: Christmas on the Red Square
Christmas Market in Moscow 2019 dates: Mid-December to Mid-January
Moscow is one of the best-decorated cities for Christmas that I’ve ever visited. If you want to read about other cities, you can check my posts about the best Christmas Markets in Europe. The capital of Russia takes New Year and Christmas decorations seriously. The decorations are actually spread all around the city, so you have to walk a lot to see them all. Walking in the city centre of Moscow is really nice, however, it might be a bit cold. We will talk about the weather later in this post. Moscow Christmas Market was featured as one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe by Radisson Blu and even the Telegraph.
The best part of the Christmas market in Moscow is undoubtedly Red Square. Is has a huge ice skating rink and lots of pretty stalls surrounding the rink. For a change, the music that is played is Soviet New Year music and not “Last Christmas”. The overall style of decorations is pretty unique. Moscow Christmas market is not a typical German-style Christmas Market, it’s a bit different. It has some soviet and nostalgic elements, it has some folkloric Russian elements and it has some Western elements as well.
The stalls sell souvenirs, food like crepes and sausages (alright, the food isn’t very traditional) and drinks. The typical drinks sold at the Christmas Market on the Red Square include mulled wine, various teas and a Russian speciality – honey mead. While honey mead has some alcohol in it, it’s not very strong and it will keep you warm during even the coldest winter in Russia.
Read my post about the best things to do in Moscow in 2 days >>>
The best Christmas decorations in Moscow
Also, at the Red Square, there is a huge department store – GUM, which is also nicely decorated for Christmas from the inside and the outside. The shops inside are quite expensive, but on the last floor, there’s a canteen-style food court where you can eat on a budget. It’s probably not so relevant in winter, but the ice cream on the ground floor of GUM is very delicious!
Please note that you can bring any alcohol to the Red square: at the entrance, there are metal detectors and you will need to open your bags for security reasons.
Another beautiful area to visit in Moscow is Lubyanka: there are many more Christmas stalls on the Nikolskaya street and a huge light tunnel. Nikolskaya street is closed for cars, so you can access it directly from the Red Square. I must admit that Moscow is not my favourite city on Earth, but during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, it looks pretty magical.
There are more stalls with food and souvenirs around the Bolshoi Theatre and Bolshaya Dmitrovka street. You can find more Christmas decorations and activities in the parks of Moscow – head to the Gorky park to enjoy the ice skating rink. Izmailovski park is awesome during Christmas time too! It looks like a traditional Russian village and even has its own Kremlin!
The most beautiful and impressive decoration in Moscow is the light tunnel at Tverskoi Boulevard. I didn’t manage to take the photo there, so you’ll have to believe me.
As I mentioned before, Moscow is decorated in many places around the city, so you need to walk a lot and also take public transport to see the best Christmas decorations and Christmas markets in Moscow.
Wondering how expensive is Moscow? Read my post about prices in Moscow and St. Petersburg here >>>
Weather in Moscow in winter
Finally, let’s talk about the weather. Many people are scared to go to Russia in winter, some others feel challenged and want to experience the coldest weather in their life. The truth is, the weather in Russia in winter can be very different. It can be very cold or it can be average. There is no guarantee that you’ll see white Christmas in Moscow and everything will be covered by white snow and will look like Winter Wonderland.
It used to be like this, but with the weather change and global warming, sometimes it starts snowing in January. There is a high chance that you will see snow in Russia in December, but it’s not a 100% chance. If you want to see snow in Russia with the probability of 100%, come at the beginning of February. February is also the coldest month in Russia.
The average weather in Moscow in December can be very cold or kind of mild. Check the temperature a couple of days before your trip, however, you can expect anything from +3 to -27 degrees Celcius.
What to pack for Moscow in December
As I mentioned before, check the weather forecast for Moscow in December 2-3 days in advance and prepare accordingly. If it’s really cold (below -10 degrees Celsius), a heated jacket like this one would be a great idea. Alternatively, a long parka like this one would be great. You can also look for alternatives on Asos.com.
Concerned about the safety in Moscow? Read my post about how to stay safe in Moscow >>>
Looking for a place to stay in Moscow in winter?
The best part about Moscow in winter is that the hotels are way cheaper compared to other seasons. So you can actually afford luxury for less. We stayed in a wonderful hotel just near Red Square (5 minutes walking). It’s a bit expensive (come on, it’s St. Regis but worth taking a look.
Things to do in Moscow in winter
If you’re wondering about the best things to do in Moscow in winter, they are pretty much the same as the things to do in Moscow in summer. You might be spending a bit less time outside and more time inside the museums, so try to make your itinerary for Moscow in winter a bit more museum-heavy. If you’re looking for the best things to do in Moscow, head to my post that is all about things to do in Moscow.
If you’re up for a winter tour in Moscow, I can recommend these tours:
Moscow small group metro tour to hide from the cold;
Summary of Moscow in December (and winter) and Moscow Christmas Markets
To summarise, I must say that Christmas in Moscow is amazing and Moscow in winter is definitely worth visiting. Even though it might be cold, you can still enjoy the city and visit the main highlights.
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