7 reasons why you should NOT go out on Victory day in Moscow (and 3 better alternatives)
Are you just excited about the holidays as I am?
Ready to finally start the extra-long four day break this year and hit Moscow’s clubs and bars to raise hell?
Moscow will let loose and all the people who are usually swamped with work and study are just waiting to storm the nightlife and party from dusk till dawn. Right?
Victory Day and the weekend before it are some of the worst days to go out in Moscow. I will give you SEVEN reasons, why you should quickly forget about nightlife and party on and around Victory Day. You’ll be surprised to find out how differently party habits work in Russia.
Read until the end if you plan to have a great time over the holidays, because I will give you three tried and tested ways for maximum fun on Victory Day.
1. Moscow’s locals leave for extended holidays
In 2017 this will be truer than ever, because Russia gets four straight free days off from work. A lot of people will use that time to finally enjoy some spring sun on their dachas outside Moscow. Some might fly out of the country altogether for a short trip. Especially younger people and students want to make use of their break to do some activities instead of spending their time hungover in the bed.
2. Few are in the mood to party
On Victory Day, Moscow is in the mood to celebrate, not party. It’s Russia’s big national holiday and a possibility for all Russians to be proud of their ancestors’ historical achievements. You will see stickers and decorations for the festivities everywhere. Girls throw on little soldier’s caps to take funny pictures for their social media. Guys are proudly posing together to remember what their grandparents went through to defend the motherland. This is a holiday of pride and remembrance, not the type where you run to the nightclubs in the evening.
3. The streets are packed because of festivities
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is out and about on Victory Day for a walk, watching the parade and celebrating together. Plenty of activities and little festivals start after the big military parade on Red Square, so Moscow stays packed until the late evening. You definitely have not seen big crowds until you’ve been at Victory Day in Moscow!
Like this, without the demonstrations
4. Late night fireworks mean that you come home late
At 9pm in the evening, Muscovites get to enjoy several massive fireworks at different places all around the capital. If not all of Moscow was out by that time, now they are! The masses are returning home quite late and are not really in the right mindset to go out and drink and party their asses off. Why? Well because…
5. The metro stops working
What did I just tell you about the crowds?
And how do you think they will all get home from their walks and the fireworks?
The Moscow metro is efficient but it can’t do magic and that many people are too much, even for the Moscow metro. Several stations actually stop working because of overload and everyone has to walk long distances to get the next metro station to get home. Which brings us to…
6. Streets are closed and traffic is a mess
Tons of people out and important roads are closed. Sounds like fun if you want to catch a cab right? Good luck with that on Victory Day, because you won’t have much joy. Better to walk or be home in time, before everyone else decides to head home.
7. Muscovites prefer to party at home or stay with their families
I think you got it by now. The holiday is a huge mass of people running around Moscow to see all the festivities and in the end it’s really hard to get home. Understandably, few are in the mood to get ready to hit the clubs and bars after that. Either it’s a quiet night at home, or a little house party with friends. That is true for the previous evening as well. Most Muscovites prefer to not spend the holiday with a massive headache in bed, so nightlife is greatly reduced on the days before.
The kind of party you can expect
All of that sounds like a pain if you want to party, doesn’t it? All that time without work and there’s supposedly no one in the clubs and bars?
Not quite. Expect a crowd, but expect a smaller and less energetic one than usually. The second effect is more tourists and guys being out, because these groups don’t know and don’t care about the unwritten rules of nightlife.
Good thing I have a solution for you. Even better, I have three recommendations to make sure you have a blast on and around Victory Day:
Top 3 things to do on Victory Day in Moscow
1. Go out of town
This naturally doesn’t apply if you are visiting. But if you are from Moscow, do like the Muscovites and use your free time for a little trip and some relaxation. Your body and your mind will thank you for it and you’ll be much fitter for a strong summer party season.
Hit up one of the smaller cities around Moscow to experience Victory Day in the provinces, go to a friend’s dacha or take a short trip abroad. With more than half a week off, there are plenty of possibilities to relax and recharge.
2. Visit the festivities in the daytime and have an activity lined up in the evening
I strongly recommend going to the festivities, especially if you’ve never seen them. The atmosphere is quite special and very enjoyable, even if it is not your first time.
For nightlife, these two options are the best: Line up a private party if you want to go strong, or spend a relaxed evening with friends if you want to chill. Don’t depend on doing something spontaneously, but plan out your evening and be aware of all the little particularities around that date. If you are visiting as a tourist, meet some locals and make friends. Especially on Victory Day, Russians are very hospitable and friendly. Meeting new people will be super-easy and they’ll be happy to celebrate with you.
3. If you have to party, select a day as far away as possible from the holidays
In 2017, Victory Day is on a Tuesday. If you absolutely have to go out, do so on Friday or Saturday. You don’t want to go out on Sunday or Monday, because the party crowd will already be tired at that point. The weekend will not be as good as usually, but it’s still Moscow. The clubs will still be full. If the holidays are late in the week, you might want to skip the weekend altogether in terms of going out. The following week is usually much, much better for partying, because everyone who works and all students are back in the city and raring to party after their little hiatus.
If you have more ideas how to spend the holidays, let me know and drop a comment below!