Many people consider Gorky Park to be the recreation hub of Moscow. If you come here at any time of the day in the summertime, you can enjoy a snack or a meal with a drink and watch the world jog, inline skate, cycle and skateboard past you. In the cold depths of winter the focus of Gorky Park changes and ice skating takes over. At the end of November there is a rush to the biggest and possibly coolest ice rink in Europe, if not the World.
It is hard to imagine Moscow without Gorky park, but it was only founded 88 years ago in 1927. In the long history of Moscow, it is a fairly ‘new ‘addition. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the park was a very sorry sight, it had been allowed to go to rack and ruin and it was in need of a lot of improvement.
New management was put in place in 2011 and the park underwent major reconstruction. Ever since then Gorky Park has been the place to go for inner city recreation, such as ice skating during the winter months.
During the winter months, Paths that are usually used by Muscovites for evening walks through the park, are covered with water and turned into ice routes that branch off from the central ‘square’ which gives this rink a very impressive 18,000 square meters (59,000 square feet) of ice. This offers you a variety of routes each time you skate here, and to help with policing the hordes of skaters, (I have been told that on a Saturday night there can be as many as 4,500 people on the ice).
There is a “one-way-street-rule” of the ice rink and there are supervisors who enforce this rule, I was told that they can be quite fierce in how they approach the ‘one-way’ rule breakers and the people who sit on the fences. Every time I broke those two rules, all I received was a request to move on in a firm but polite manner.
The centre of the rink has a huge cube and as soon as it’s dark, it lights up in purple, orange, white and blue – and dotted along the rink are little trees that shimmer with pink, blue-turquoise and white lights. This creates a very beautiful and exciting backdrop to accompany you around this atmospheric winter wonderland.
The music is fabulous, there is something quite life affirming about sipping mulled wine and skating to a variety of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music, even the cheesy songs you would never admit to knowing the words to. The mix of skaters is eclectic, young and old, male and female, singles, couples and groups, everyone just enjoys it for what it is – and the entrance fee is good value. Depending at what time of day you skate, the entrance price is either 200, 300 or 500 rubles. Full pricing details can be found on the excellent website which is in both Russian and English.
The admission is organised on the basis of a credit card system, which you buy at the entrance. This card registers all purchases and other services, like hire of ice skates or locker for your own shoes while you’re on the ice, so you do not want to lose it. You can also book ahead, again this can be done quite easily via the website.
Getting there is easy, use either the Park Kultury or Oktyabrskaya metro stations and the park is a short walk away. For more information about the events held at Gorky park, check out their great English language website: http://www.park-gorkogo.com/en/
Let us know about your ice skating adventures in Gorky Park in the comment section below!