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EVENTS

Moscow's festivals have shaken off their 'joyous workers' march' image and are now shaking booty with the best of them. The main public holidays are New Year's Day (1 January), Russian Orthodox Christmas Day (7 January), International Women's Day (8 March), International Labour Day/Spring festival (1 & 2 May), Victory (1945) Day (9 May), Russian Independence Day (12 June), Day of Reconciliation and Accord (7 November).

A great many festivals are derived from Orthodox church tradition. Orthodox Christmas begins with midnight mass on 7 January. Orthodox Easter, known as Paskha, falls some time in March or April - it begins with a midnight church service, after which people eat special dome-shaped cakes and curd cakes and swap painted wooden eggs.

In odd-numbered years, the Moscow Film Festival hits the city's screens in autumn. The Russian Winter Festival is pretty much a tourist affair with troyka rides, folklore shows, games and vodka, and is celebrated between 25 December and 5 January. Sylvestr is the Russian New Year celebration, and is the main gift-giving festival of the year, with presents placed under the traditional fir tree. Muscovites see out the old year with vodka and welcome the new one with champagne.

Public Holidays
12 Dec - Constitution Day
7 Jan - Russian Orthodox Christmas Day
1 Jan - New Year's Day
8 Mar - International Women's Day
7 Nov - Day of Reconciliation and Accord
23 Feb - Defenders of the Motherland Day
12 Jun - Russian Independence Day
Mar/Apr - Easter Monday
1-2 May - International Labour Day
9 May - Victory (1945) Day

When to Go

Moscow's climate really consists of two seasons: winter and summer. Russian winter, if you're prepared, can be an adventure: furs and vodka keep people warm, and snow-covered landscapes are picturesque. A solid snow pack covers the ground from November to March. The lowest recorded temperature is -42°C (-43°F), although it's normally more like -10°C (14°F) for weeks on end. Occasional southerly winds can raise the temperature briefly to a balmy 0°C (32°F). Days are very short.

During the spring thaw – in late March and early April – everything turns to mud and slush. Summer comes fast in May and temperatures are comfortable until well into September. The highest recorded temperature was 39°C (102°F), although on a humid August day you'll swear it's hotter than that. July and August are the warmest months and the main holiday season. Train tickets and accommodation can be difficult to come by during these months, and attractions around Moscow tend to be overrun with visitors. They are also the dampest months in Moscow, with as many as one rainy day in three. Rain showers are brief but thunderstorms can be violent. For these reasons, early summer, with its long days, and early autumn, with its colourful foliage, are many people's favourite seasons.



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