Skating Season Opens on Red Square, City Rinks

MTThe ice rink on Red Square is only three years old but has already become a firm favorite among the city's skaters.
Winter is moving in, and even if snow has yet to settle, numerous ice rinks have opened around Moscow. With close to 90 open-air ice rinks spotting the city, you are sure to find one to satisfy whatever atmosphere or price range you might be seeking.

In the mood for a romantic retreat? The rink at the Hermitage Garden offers a spacious spot near the city center where you can glide arm-in-arm among snow-tipped trees and glowing lamp posts in the open air.

If you are looking for a more European flair, make your way to the French Ice Rink on Ulitsa Petrovka. Founded in the 19th century, the rink claims to be located on the very spot where Napoleon's army was headquartered in 1812. For those seeking more of a thrill or a cheaper option the pond at Chistiye Prudy offers free, round-the-clock skating among evergreens and Christmas lights. The thrill? If you are not careful, you might find yourself flying to the ground after tripping over cracks in the ice.

"That's what you get when nature creates your playgrounds. No one pours this ice but the skies above. Besides, it's free," said Andrei, a regular at the park's rink.

There are no cloakrooms or storage facilities, but the large number of cafes and bars in the area offer plenty of opportunities to warm up one's frigid fingers.

Gorky Park offers a trip back in time with its ice disco every evening, allowing skaters to boogie down on its approximately 40,000 square meters of frozen sidewalks and ponds.

The crowning glory of Moscow's ice rinks is the rink on Red Square. Occupying a quarter of the square, the rink's temperature-controlled surface is surrounded by blue walls bedecked with 1960s and 1970s illustrations of Father Christmas and children on rocket ships welcoming the new year. Music plays over speakers, colored Christmas lights hang above gliding skaters below, a giant Christmas tree adorned with shiny ornaments and GUM signs and topped with a red Kremlin-style star stand in the way of Lenin's mausoleum.

Among the local celebrities at the opening were world-champion ice dancer Alexander Zhulin.

"It's just wonderful," Zhulin noted. "St. Basil's and GUM and the Kremlin. What else do you need? It's simply fantasy. I love to come here."

Red Square

Open 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Entrance on weekdays is 250 rubles at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m., 350 rubles from 4 p.m. Weekends cost 350 rubles at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., 500 rubles starting at 2 p.m. Skating period 1 1/2 hours.

Rental: 250 rubles, security deposit 2,000 rubles or driver's license.

788-4343, www.gum.ru/katok.

Hermitage Garden

Noon to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday through Sunday.

Entrance: 100 rubles Monday through Thursday, 150 rubles Friday through Sunday, children under 7 are free.

Rental: 100 rubles per hour for regular skates, 200 rubles per hour for VIP skates, security deposit 1,500 rubles or passport.

299-04-43, www.katokermitaj.ru

3 Ul. Karetny Ryad. M. Pushkinskaya, Chekhovskaya, Tverskaya.

French Ice Rink

Weekdays noon to 11 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. to midnight.

Entrance: 100 rubles on weekdays, 200 rubles on weekends, children under 7 free.

Rentals: 100 rubles per hour, VIP skates 200 rubles per hour, security deposit 1,500 rubles or driver's license.

507-08-09, www.superkatok.ru.

26/9 Ul. Petrovka, M. Chekhovskaya.

Gorky Park

Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ice Disco: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Entrance: free (park entrance 50 rubles).

Rental: 120 rubles per hour, security deposit 1,000 rubles or passport.

237-12-66, M. Oktyabrskaya or Park Kultury.

For a longer list of ice rinks in Moscow, see www.roller.ru/katki/.