New Year is by far Russia's biggest holiday. Every year, families across the country gather to exchange gifts, feast on traditional New Year's dishes and clink their champagne glasses as the Kremlin bell tolls at midnight.
This year, with the devaluation of the ruble making travel abroad significantly more expensive, more people than usual are expected to stay in Moscow for the holidays. Fortunately, the Russian capital is going all out to provide a wealth of entertainment options for residents and visitors alike.
Even public transport is participating. On New Year's Eve the metro will stay open an extra hour, until 2 a.m., while buses and trolleybuses will run until 3 a.m., starting service again at 5 a.m. as usual.
Red Square is a popular spot for ringing in the New Year — and rightly so — but it is far from the only option. While the main fireworks show will, as usual, be set off over the Moscow River, fireworks can be seen in a total of 17 parks and eight squares around Moscow starting at 1 a.m.
The following are 10 of the best places to usher in the New Year in Moscow.
1. Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad), Okhotny Ryad/Ploshchad Revolyutsii metro stations
Pros: Red Square is in the very heart of Moscow, so you will have a great view of the fireworks over St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin. It's like spending New Year's Eve in Times Square, but in a more historical setting.
Cons: Just like Times Square, Red Square gets very crowded, so if you want a good spot you will have to get there far in advance and stand for hours. If you change your mind and decide to leave, it may be difficult to get out.
2. Gorky Park (Park Gorkogo), 9 Ulitsa Krymsky Val, Oktyabrskaya/Park Kultury metro stations
Pros: Gorky Park will offer a range of activities on New Year's Eve, including one of the largest skating rinks in the city, multiple DJs, a light show and a small snowboarding hill.
Cons: Like Red Square, it's bound to get very crowded, and you will be standing outside in the cold the entire evening.
3. Sokolniki Park (Park Solkolniki), Sokolniki metro station
Pros: Sokolniki, one of Moscow's largest parks, will have plenty to occupy both children and adults: skating, a musical "festival of hits" from the 2000s and a live transmission of the president's New Year's address to the nation after midnight.
Cons: It is quite far to the north of the city center. You may also have to walk long distances to get between attractions, as the park is large and spread out.
4. Tverskaya Ulitsa, Okhotny Ryad/Tverskaya metro stations
Pros: From 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. there will be three concert areas along Tverskaya Ulitsa. The first, on the intersection between Tverskaya Ulitsa and Manezh Square, will play disco funk; the second, by the Yermolova Тheater, will play rock and roll; and the third, by Kamergersky Pereulok, will play techno. There will also be dance classes and a "mobile carnival." This is all right across the street from Red Square, so you will even have a view of the main fireworks show.
5. The Muzeon Park of Arts, 10 Ulitsa Krymsky Val., Oktyabrskaya/Park Kultury metro stations
Pros: The recently renovated Muzeon sculpture park, home to the toppled statues of former Soviet leaders, will have light and mirror installations, a heated lounge zone, an ice bar and fireworks. Muzeon is across the street from Gorky Park, so you may even get the chance to visit two different celebrations.
Cons: Musicians and DJs from popular Moscow nightclubs are invited, so this may not be the best place to bring children.
6. Hermitage Garden (Sad Ermitazha), Sadovaya-Triumfalnaya Ulitsa, Mayakovskaya metro station
Pros: Moscow's Hermitage Garden will play host to a shadow theater, live music, prizes, fireworks and classic films from George Méliès, the French illusionist. If you have small children, this might be a good option.
Cons: A bit far from the metro, and some people might find it too quiet and staid for their liking.
7. Balchug Kempinski Hotel, 1 Balchug Ulitsa, Kropotkinskaya metro station
Pros: A six-course gala dinner, live cover band and perfect view of the fireworks over the Moscow River. The price of the party also includes one night in the hotel and a "lavish" buffet breakfast the next morning.
Cons: Prices start from a steep 35,000 rubles per person ($615), so you had better be confident you'll enjoy yourself.
8. Patriarshy Bridge, Kropotkinskaya metro station
Pros: Perfect view of the fireworks and Moscow's colossal Christ the Savior Cathedral, with plenty of bars and restaurants just a few minutes walk away on the Red October island.
Cons: Again, outdoors in the cold and bound to be crowded. The nearby bars and restaurants, while plentiful, will likely be very busy too. It may not be possible to just walk in without a reservation.
9. BlackBerry Cafe, 10 Prospekt Akademika Sakharova, Chistiye Prudy/Krasniye Vorota metro stations
Pros: A masquerade ball with prizes, gifts and classic musical hits. Traditional Russian menu.
Cons: Traditional Russian menu. Also, a single ticket for between 5,000 and 7,000 rubles ($81 to $114) may be a bit pricey.
10. Vorontsovsky Park, Kaluzhskaya/Noviye Cheryomushki metro stations
Pros: Lots of music from Russian artists and Italian singer Monica Santoro, a Chinese theater show and — you guessed it — a fireworks display.
Cons: Quite far south of central Moscow.
Don't forget the New Year's champagne tradition: As the bell first tolls midnight, write a wish on a piece of paper, light the paper on fire, drop it into your champagne glass and drink the champagne. Happy New Year, or s novym godom!