Three holiday markets
This year many of the usual holiday markets are not being held due to the surge in coronavirus. But there are a few, including the historic fair on Red Square that first began about three hundred years ago. This year the booths are selling traditional souvenirs, Christmas tree decorations, felt boots and slippers, mittens, down and decorative scarves, and other crafts. To keep yourself warm and sustained, try some traditional Russian foods and drinks, like sbiten (a mulled honey drink); blinis, and Tula gingerbread. Or try delicacies from abroad, like Bavarian sausage, Viennese waffles, and roasted chestnuts. See the GUM site here.
For something a bit more foreign, this weekend check out the French-Russian Christmas Fair, where you can buy delicacies like sausages, cheeses, chocolates, escargot and tea as well as Christmas decorations, clothing, accessories, crafts, art works, calendars and much more. Register for free here.
For something a bit more upscale, check out the market of hand-made goods at Artplay this weekend. The Four Seasons market offers designer clothing and accessories, small art objects, crafts, tree ornaments, toys, ceramics and much more. Admission is free. For more information and directions in Russian, see the site here.
Two New Year’s tree parties
In Russian ёлка is a fir-tree, a decorated holiday tree — Christmas or New Year’s — and a holiday party for children that always includes a tree, Grandfather Frost and Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden). This year these parties are not being held everywhere — sadly they won’t be held in the Kremlin — but there are still lots of opportunities for your kids to dance around a decorated tree, play games, and eat too many sweets. “Onward into the New Year” at Mosfilm is a full-scale interactive play with singing, dancing, presents, treats all performed by some of the country’s best actors in one of the world’s biggest and best film studios. Tickets begin at about 1,500 rubles, and the performances begin Dec. 18. For more information in Russian and tickets, see the site here.
For a no less colorful but slightly more religious Christmas party, there is “Road to Christmas” held in the large conference center of the Christ the Savior Cathedral. It has all the huggable large stuffed creatures, singing, dancing, bad guys and good guys of most children’s holiday musicals, but there is a reminder of the meaning of Christmas. Performances begin on Dec. 23 and ticket prices begin at 1,300 rubles. For more information and ticket sales, see the site here.
And a big batch of films for the whole family
Start the season with Steven Spielberg’s new version of “West Side Story” at a number of theaters around town, or revisit Princess Diana with “Spencer,” or see “House of Gucci” to decide if the fake accents sound Italian or Russian, or check out the latest “Spider-Man: No Way Home” when it opens this week. While we wait for more holiday fare, you and the family can see “Encanto” or “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” just for fun. But if you are a fan of the Matrix movies, Matrix 4 (“Resurrections”) is being shown on Dec. 16 in English (with Russian subtitles) by Moskino. For ticket sales and more information, see the site here.