A guide to Moscow’s summer festivals

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Believe it or not, in summer Moscow usually gets rather hot. It’s also the season when the city is fully awake, with more events happening than at any other time of the year. Almost every weekend a new market, exhibition or festival takes place, making it pretty hard to choose which one to attend.

Of course, the highlight of this summer in the Russian capital will be the celebration of football, as Moscow gets ready to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup (from 14 June to 15 July) along with 10 other cities across the country. Nevertheless, over the years some big annual events have become an integral – and fun – part of Moscow’s summer culture. Here are our top picks.

An open-air concert during Usadba Jazz festival at the Arkhangelskoe Estate © Anton Gvozdikov / ShutterstockAn open-air concert during Usadba Jazz festival at the Arkhangelskoe Estate © Anton Gvozdikov / Shutterstock

Usadba Jazz at Arkhangelskoe

This iconic open-air jazz festival has been taking place in Moscow for over a decade, making it one of the city’s favourite outdoor events. The location is always the same – the gorgeous 19th-century Arkhangelskoe Estate and its surroundings. Apart from some great classical and modern jazz, blues, funk, soul and world music, there’s a new theme each year: in 2017 it was ecology, introducing some local eco-designers and culinary artists to jazz-loving Muscovites.

Dates: 2–3 June 2018

Red Square Book Fest

This year Moscow’s annual book festival will be taking over the historic Red Square for the fourth time. The event celebrates the reading culture, introduces the best local publishing houses, and allows visitors to purchase books, attend masterclasses and listen to some well-known modern Russian writers. The program covers several themes, including fiction, non-fiction, ebooks, children’s and educational literature, antique and secondhand books, as well as Russian regions. Famous Russian museums present their publishing projects and catalogues, and there are live concerts and performances throughout the festival.

Dates: 3–6 June 2018

The Red Square Book Fest is a celebration of the written word in the Russian capital © smej / Shutterstock The Red Square Book Fest is a celebration of the written word in the Russian capital © smej / Shutterstock

Moscow Flower Show

Who knew Moscow could be a rose? Last year a new sort of rose was created just to celebrate the 870th anniversary of the Russian capital. This international garden festival is a paradise for the admirers of landscape design and all things green and blooming. Both recognised and up-and-coming landscape designers present their works and compete for the main prize, awarded by an international jury. And visitors get a chance to release their inner flower child.

Dates: 29 June–8 July 2018

Taste of Moscow

This international food festival has been around for a long time, covering 19 cities of the world and gaining huge popularity in Moscow. The city’s 30 best restaurants will take part in the program this year, offering visitors their most renowned dishes and products. You can treat yourself to delicacies from one of the exclusive menus created specifically for the festival, attend degustations or learn how to cook from a professional chef. The interactive program will also include concerts, masterclasses, pop-up performances and children’s activities.

Dates: 26–29 July 2018

The Moscow Flower Show turns the city centre into a huge garden © Yulia Mayorova / ShutterstockThe Moscow Flower Show turns the city centre into a huge garden © Yulia Mayorova / Shutterstock

Park Live

Much loved by both locals and visitors to the city, the annual Park Live rock festival has achieved international status in its six years of existence, treating the fans with performances from world-famous and local rock stars. Hosting Muse in 2015 has been the highlight in the festival’s history, while Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Limp Bizkit and System of a Down have also headlined. In 2018 revellers will have a chance to see David Guetta, Gorillaz and Massive Attack at the vibrant Gorky Park in the heart of the city.

Dates: 27–29 July 2018

Afisha Picnic

Moscow’s biggest open-air festival is a summer rave for food and music lovers. Organized by Afisha magazine, it’s been expanding year on year, eventually moving from concert halls and stadiums to the vast Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve, a former royal estate and a Unesco World Heritage Site by the Moscow River. The organisers make sure there’s lots going on, so apart from multiple music stages you can find food stalls with local products, a designers’ market, gaming and lecture areas – all with a strict no-alcohol policy.

Dates: 4 August 2018

The Times and Epochs re-enactment of a battle between Polish and Ruthenian archers © Degtyaryov Andrey / ShutterstockThe Times and Epochs re-enactment of a battle between Polish and Ruthenian archers © Degtyaryov Andrey / Shutterstock

Times and Epochs

The ultimate historical festival in Russia expands with each passing year, taking over Moscow parks, recreational areas and some of the main streets. It brings together the best from the world of historical re-enactment, boasting more than 6000 geeky participants in 2017 (many of them from abroad). Soldiers, merchants, craftsmen, musicians all walk the streets in traditional costumes, performing or teaching the arts, crafts and games of the past. Best of all, the festival is focused on getting the audience involved in the lifestyles of different eras, from the Stone Age to the Soviet times.

Dates: 10–22 August 2018

Moscow City Day

Moscow turned 870 in 2017, and to celebrate the occasion, the city administration decided to host a 10-day festival under the slogan ‘Moscow is a city where history is being made’. With Russian avant-garde the main theme, dozens of events, lectures, performances and street markets celebrated the history of the capital as well as its prominent inhabitants. Plenty of music, food and modern art is always to be expected on the city streets during this time. Don’t miss the magnificent fireworks.

Dates: 1–10 September 2018

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