A Guide to Moscow’s May Festivals 2020
UPDATE: Due to COVID-19 all May holiday celebrations in Moscow including Victory parade are canceled. The date of the Victory Parade in 2020 will be soon announced by the Russian Government.
The calendar of holidays in Russia is quite intense. On the one hand, it is connected with the great history of the country, on the other hand, Russians just love holidays!
Russia’s holiday calendar is a great reflection of its diverse history, many public and patriotic holidays date back to Soviet times.
In Russia, traditions are valued and honored, therefore not only historical holidays, but also religious and even pagan ones are often marked in the calendar. To get to Russia in the midst of holidays is a great idea, this is the way to feel the real spirit of the country. The beginning of May is the best time to do it because the most sacred holidays for Russians take place these days.
May 1 – Festival of Spring and Labour
[Prazdnik Vesni i Truda, or just Pervomaj as Russians still say it]
Days off: May 1-5.
May 1 and 2 are official holidays in Russia. These days, during the time of the Soviet Union, Labor Day (“May Day”) was celebrated – a socialist holiday dedicated to the working people. Formerly International Worker’s Solidarity Day under the old Communist system uses the same date. It is celebrated with demos and parades, concerts, food, and drinks. Traditionally May 1 is a perfect date to start the dacha season – people go out of the city, make BBQ and relax in nature after a long winter. If you don’t have such an opportunity to go to the country or village, but still want to feel Russian hospitality, we invite you to our More Than Just Vodka Spirits Tour!
Official holidays join the weekend, so you are provided with the whole FIVE days to feel the power of Russian folk festivals!
May 9 – Victory Day
Days off: May 9-12
Another holiday – Victory Day – is considered the holiest for Russians and one of the most important memorable days of the year.
The end of the Second World War is an important date for the whole world. But for the Russians, May 9 is even more important, this is the day of the surrender of Germany and the end of The Great Patriotic War (as Russians know it), in which Russia lost about 20 million people. It’s clear that Russians take this day quite seriously, and May 9 is an official holiday in the country.
It is usually celebrated with parades, concerts, fireworks, meetings with veterans. The morning of May 9 begins with a Victory Parade on Red Square in Moscow. It’s a great chance to see marching soldiers and cadets in dress uniform, military equipment, planes and helicopters in the sky.
The main participants in the parade are the veterans who solemnly pass through the square in trucks, or watch the parade from the stands. The president (he is also supreme commander in chief), the minister of defense, the first people of the country, as well as invited guests from other countries are necessarily present at the parade.
May 9 is celebrated on a large scale in all Russian cities: there are public concerts and festivals, parks hosting ‘field kitchens’ with military porridge and so on. Moscow has traditionally become a grandiose center of memorable holiday events. On this day, museums, old manors and many other objects open their doors to the public which is great because they are usually closed during the year.
Believe me, during May holidays in Moscow there are so many events to attend!
When: May 1
Where: Red Square
Traditional May Day demonstration – the legacy of the Soviet Union. You do not need to register in advance or receive a pass – admission in demo is free for everyone. This year more than 110 thousand people will take part in the march. The program of the demonstration includes performances of famous politicians, concerts with the participation of popular performers, fairs, flower exhibitions and so on.
The largest march of 2020 will be the action “For a fair economy in the interests of the working man!”, which will be held from 10:00 to 12:00. The columns will move from St. Basil’s Cathedral through Red Square to the Historical Museum, several parades will take place between Bolshaya Yakimanka and Teatralny Passage, and from Druzhinnikovskaya Street to Krasnopresnenskaya Zastava Square.
What: Festival “Moscow Spring Acapella”
When: May 1-12
Where: 40 scenes throughout Moscow
Masters of singing from Russia and other countries of the world will gather at the international music contest-festival. Vocal acts of different styles and genres will be performed in the most unexpected venues, including city streets, squares, and parks – totally in 40 sites, including scenes and even balconies.
It’s a large-scale festival of street music in which vocalists and music groups from different parts of Russia, Europe, and The States will take part. Over the course of 12 days streets, boulevards, squares, and parks of the city will be turned into concert stages, where talented performers will delight music lovers with their art. There are no genre restrictions: you will hear jazz, rock, pop hits, folk, blues, soul and folk songs in original arrangements, performed in Acapella format. Entry for guests is free. The festival of street music “Moscow Spring Acapella” is held in the Russian capital for the third time.
By the way, in 2018 Moscow won the World Festival and Event City Award as one of the best cities for festivals and public events. So don’s miss world’s biggest street music show!
What: Moscow Spring Festival
When: May 1-11
Where: start in Stoleshnikov Lane, throughout the city
Moscow Spring festival – probably, the best way for tourists for sightseeing in the capital of Russia! On May holidays, they launch 13 buses and 40 river ships on their routes.
Moscow Spring Festival will be dedicated to six periods of Russian history. Among them are the Silver Age, NEP, Industrialization and the WW2, the Thaw (“Ottepel”), Developed Socialism and Restructuring. 11 large sites will be opened in the central part of the metropolis, and there will be 23 of them throughout Moscow.
Many sports events are planned on holidays in Moscow. So, according to the mayor’s office, the spring season opens in roller skates, card clubs, equestrian clubs, water parks and so on. To see more visit the official site: www.mos.ru/city/seasons (available in English).
What: Victory Parade Rehearsal
Where: Red Square
When: May 4 (10:00 p.m. till morning), May 7 (10.00 a.m.)
Many people dream of seeing the Victory Parade in Moscow with their own eyes, but this is only possible for war veterans. All the others can enjoy the show only on TV. The good news is you can see the rehearsal!
The evening practice of the parade will be on May 4. In the morning after the last night rehearsal, several dozens of minutes are devoted to flying over the city. On the morning of May 7, the dress rehearsal of the Victory Parade starts. Moreover, on this day all foot columns, equipment, and airplanes will take part in the rehearsal.
The output of military personnel is expected near the zoo, from where they proceed to the Garden Ring and Tverskaya Street.
What: Immortal Regiment
Where: Dinamo metro station – Red Square
When: May 9 (3:00 p.m.)
The action will mark five years of its existence this year. Every year it is gaining more and more popularity and attracts into its ranks new people who want to pay tribute to the memory of the relatives who forged the Victory or to honor other soldiers who sacrificed their lives for a peaceful sky. The start of the traditional march on Victory Day 2020 in Moscow will be held at the Dinamo metro station.
Along the main streets of the city process the descendants of the soldiers who took part in World War II, carrying large photographs of them. In this way, even those soldiers who had died before the Victory can walk down the street in this celebratory march. The number of people taking part in the Immortal Regiment in Moscow can reach up to 1.5 million.
What: V-day Salute
Where: Park Pobedy, Vorobyevy Gory, RUDN, VDNKh, Park Izmailovo
When: May 9 (10:00 p.m.)
Salute on May 9 is a symbol of the complete and final victory of the people in World War II. Over 10 thousand volleys of new salute installations and a festive volley of ZIS-3 cannons of the 1942 model will produce a separate salute division of the Western Military District (ZVO). Best of all, fireworks will be seen from the prepared parks of Moscow:
– Krasnaya Presnya Park
– Tagansky Park
– Hermitage Garden
– Bauman Garden
– Gorky Park
– Lianozovsky Park
– Babushkinsky Park
– Sokolniki Park
– Izmailovsky Park
– Petrovsky Park
– Lilac garden (or Sirenevy Sad)
– Park “Sadovniki”
– Park of the 50th anniversary of October
– Vorontsovsky Park
– The main territory of the park “Kuzminki”.
In addition, the Victory Museum (Victory Square, 3) will open its doors for free on May 9. Guests will see a permanent exhibition, which includes personal belongings of soldiers, letters, weapons, and other items related to the history of the war. In the cinema of the museum, there will be free screenings for military films. You can also attend various concerts and performances.
Russian vacations in spring will give you a lot of impressions that you will keep in your memory for all your life!
If you are planning your trip to Moscow some other time, check out this post on how to spend 3 days in the capital of Russia!
by Denis Bets