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Winter Troika and Horse-back Riding

Reindeer help Santa Claus deliver presents to children all over the world, but Grandfather Frost would certainly use a troika in Russia. That is why this is a wonderful opportunity to take your family for a ride in a park or outside Moscow to enjoy the crisp air and the trotting of the horses. The troika was developed centuries ago. A carriage is used in summer and a sleigh in winter. The horses that make that famous “group of three” (literally troika) are usually Orlov trotters, which is said to be the best troika breed, and are arranged with the center horse between the sleigh shafts and the outside horses guided by splinter bars attached to the sides of the sleigh. The center horse moves in a forward trot, while the side horses gallop smoothly with their heads bent outward, and they are all driven with reins: two for the center horse and one for each outer horse. Russian writer Nikolay Gogol once compared the synchronized swinging motion of the troika to a bird fl ight. Troikas are certainly decorated in a special way, with leather tassels, chairs, brushes, rosettes and stars. The duga which is the semicircular wooden bar that connects the main shafts over the center horse, is often decorated with a light blue fl ower motif and tends to be very colorful. Bells traditionally hang from the duga, and can be heard from a great distance. The bells, by the way, are also to protect against “dark forces”, they say. Most of the tourist agencies in Moscow offer troika riding nowadays. The approximate cost for this would be about 100 USD for 20 to 30 minutes, though at parks and mansions the prices can be lower. For horse-back riding fans there are many options. One of the most famous is the “Bitza” horse-riding center, which is located in the forest park Bitzevsky in the South of Moscow. International equestrian competitions also take place there, which means that everything is well organised. Riding will cost you about 80 USD per hour.

Aladdin Meets Ded Moroz and Snegurochka

Kids’ Ice Shows have become annual events in Moscow. This year Stage Entertainment Russia presents “Alladin”, based on the famous story “The Lamp of Alladin” from “The Thousand and One Nights”. The show promises to be full of surprises and of a grand scope. During the New Year Holidays in Moscow, a performance cannot go on without Ded Moroz and Snegurochka, although the organizers refused to reveal the secret of how they are going to introduce these Russian characters into an Eastern story. “Wait and see!” they say. The show is interactive, which means that the audience will be participating in all of Alladin’s adventures on his journey to the hidden treasures and to Princess Sharida’s heart. The colorful costumes, setting, lights and musical arrangement are expected to be very sophisticated (the high-tech equipment will arrive in Moscow in 14 containers!) and to create the authentic atmosphere of the ancient Orient. The performing team consists of 30 professional fi gure-skaters, all capable of incredible acrobatic feats. The world premiere of the show is scheduled for December 1st in Paris. “Aladdin on Ice” is expected to tour for four years world-wide, the list of destinations including Venezuela, Columbia, Peru and Panama.

“Aladdin on Ice”
S/C Luzhniki
December 27 – January 7
11:00, 14:30, 18:00

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

As our winter carnival continues, it is time to see the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This production is staged a musical score by B. Pavlovsky, and takes place at the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center. The magical tale is a story, for both children and their parents, about the hard-working dwarfs who stop at nothing to spare the life of the beautiful and sweet Snow White from the wicked spells that her stepmother is weaving against her. As this is the New Year holiday, of course good triumphs over evil. And there is delightful music to enchant you as well. The Opera Center is ideal for creating a cozy atmosphere for children. For young guests who will wear a fancy costume or ball dress there is a surprise: they will be able to participate in a fashion show with the characters of the performance.

Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center
December 28 – January 8
12:00, 15:00, 17:00

Bosco Skating Rink at GUM and Red Square

For Russians, ice skating is one of the most popular winter sports. Russians are keen on supporting Olympic competitors, watching and discussing TV broadcasts of the Russian champions and trying their best to skate like their favorites. In the winter months you can skate in Red Square at the Bosco/GUM sponsored skating rink which is situated between the Kremlin walls and the famous shopping mall where Bosco has a store and restaurant. Come for the music and hot drinks, and if you don’t have skates, no problem. You can rent them at the rink for a very reasonable price. The organizers insist that skating in the principal square of Russia should be as accessible as ice in winter. By the way, this is becoming a tradition for Red Square. The fi rst year for the skating rink was in 2006. It was so popular that almost one million people skated during the season. The size of the rink has increased and is now 3,000 square meters. About 500 skaters can skate at the same time. This year the rink is also going to be the venue for Russian hockey stars’ matches, and exciting performances by fi gure skating stars in January and February. The Bosco Company is preparing another skating rink for the citizens of Saint Petersburg. The rinks in both capitals are open from 10:00 to midnight. Meet your friends in Red Square for a few dozen rounds of skating, some warm wine and the beat of the Kremlin clock.

Skating rinks:
Moscow: Red Square
Saint Petersburg: Dvortsovaya Square

The Nutcracker

Seeing a Nutcracker show is undoubtedly a part of the Christmas holidays in the West. It is the universal attraction of Hoffman’s tale and the beauty of Peter Tchaikovsky’s music. The Nutcracker production at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall will feature soloists from the Stanislavsky and Nemirovitch-Danchenko Musical Theater. Michael Krapivin is the director. The artist Vladimir Kovalchuk has created brand new, videobased scenery which will take you to the cave of the Rat King and the Ball of the Toys. The fairy-tale characters will be meeting their guests at the entrance of the theater with many surprises that we are not going to reveal!

Tchaikovsky Concert Hall
January 3 – 7
12:00/13:00, 17:00


As you probably know, Russia celebrates New Year twice: on the 1st and on the 14th of January. That is why the fi rst two weeks of the year can become a winter fiesta. For kids in Russia this period is associated with “Yolkas” or New Year Tree Parties, which take place in almost every theater and entertainment center. The most prominent characters are undoubtedly Grandfather Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka, who always present children with exciting performances and with sweets and gifts as well. We have picked the most exciting shows for you in Moscow and help you remember the wonderful authors related to Christmas and their stories: Hoffman, Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Eastern tales featuring Aladdin and his magical lamp.

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