Read our definitive summer guide to Moscow’s best events, festivals and parties. There are few better places to spend your summer, so make sure you don’t miss a thing.
While the World Cup and the accompanying masses of South American football fans may have been and gone in 2018, no football is no excuse to miss summer in Moscow this year.
In addition to the usual familiar sights – Red Square, the Kremlin, the knock-off Soviet army hats in garish souvenir shops lining the Arbat – in summer the city also plays host to a range of festivals, parties and events as good as anywhere else in the world, confirming the reputation of Moscow’s nightlife.
It’s not too late to sort your visa and get yourself over here – take a look at our month-by-month guide to summer in the Russian capital and get planning your visit now.
Strelka Summer Opening Party
- When: Friday 17th May
- Where: Strelka Bar, Moscow (Kropotkinskaya Metro Station)
- Tickets: On the door, so get there early!
Forget what the weather forecast is saying – it’s not summer in Moscow until the season has officially been opened at Strelka’s Summer Opening Party, the Russian capital’s first big open-air event of the year. The perfect opportunity to mix with Moscow high society at a true institution of the city’s nightlife, this annual party is always a hedonistic affair, with out-there music and an even more out-there dress code. This year’s event – the tenth in Strelka’s history – will be headlined by the Netherlands’ Mauskovic Dance Band, whose blend of “no-wave dance punk, Afro-Caribbean rhythms and space disco” promises to kick off summer in style.
Faces & Laces
- When: Saturday 8th June – Sunday 9th June
- Where: Aviapark, Moscow (CSKA Metro Station)
- Tickets: 2019.faceslaces.com/eng
A firm favourite of the Kollektiv team and frequented by all the brands we love, Faces & Laces is the event of the summer for anyone interested in Russian streetwear. A massive, open-air exhibition showcasing the diversity of youth culture in Russia, this is the perfect place to find your new favourite brand. This year sees the festival moving from its classic location at Gorky Park to the slightly less glamorous Aviapark shopping centre car park (yeah, we don’t know either). Nevertheless, with pop-ups from all the major players in Russia’s clothing scene and music the likes of Wavves and Lil Ugly Mane, this summer’s Faces & Laces is not to be missed.
- When: Saturday 8th June
- Where: Hlebozavod No.9, Moscow (Dmitrovskaya Metro Station)
- Tickets: weekend.esquire.ru
Unfortunately organised for the same weekend as Faces & Laces, this one-day festival will offer a somewhat more chill but no less cool atmosphere than the Aviapark event. If your vibe is more sophistication than streetwear and Long Island than longboard, then the Esquire Weekend at Hlebozavod No.9 will be right up your street. With multiple “zones” for visitors to explore, the festival will act as an open-air version of the magazine itself, with each zone providing an insight into the state of modern Russian music, film, theatre, literature, fashion and much more. If that’s not enough, there’ll also be lectures, live music and art. Get down there and educate yourself.
- When: Saturday 15th June
- Where: ZIL Cultural Centre, Moscow (Avtozavodskaya Metro Station)
- Tickets: encoresquad.com
Taking place in the grand constructivist environs of cultural centre ZIL, Encore Fest will be the first full-scale festival by veteran hip hop promoters Encore. Scheduled for the weekend of what would have been Tupac’s 48th birthday, the festival will be headlined, fittingly, by the collective he founded – Outlawz. It won’t just be a blast from the past, though, with home-grown Russian hip hop also represented across Encore’s two stages in the form of Antoha MC, Obladaet and Kollektiv guilty pleasure Feduk. When else will you get the chance to hear classic West Coast hip hop at a Soviet engineering university-turned-cool cultural centre? If that doesn’t convince you to go, we don’t know what will.
- When: 15 June
- Where: TBC, Moscow
- Tickets: ponominalu.ru/event/motherland
If old school hip hop’s not your thing, then Motherland is on hand to offer a more patriotic alternative on the same weekend as Encore. While the exact location is yet to be announced, Motherland will be – as the name suggests – a celebration of the best of Russian underground music. The festival will span a range of genres, with headliners from controversial rapper Face to ultra-ironic post-punk duo Buerak, garage rockers Sonic Death and 19-year-old singer-songwriter Grechka. Let’s face it: you’re probably not reading this and dreaming of spending your summer listening to Russian songs, but with four stages and over 30 groups, Motherland is a solid shout if you’re in Moscow.
RED Summer Concerts
- When: Saturday 22nd – Sunday 30th June
- Where: Red October, Moscow (Kropotkinskaya Metro Station)
- Tickets: red-summer.ru
Why go to a weekend festival when you can have one that lasts a whole week? This year’s RED Summer will stretch across the final week of June and consist of a series of concerts from some of the biggest names in new Russian music. From moody rapper Husky on the 23rd to (equally moody) RnB duo Malbec on the 30th and the (less moody) double header of pop queen Luna and summery indie four-piece Pompeya in between, RED Summer will cater for all tastes. Moreover, all concerts will take place on rooftops in Moscow’s Red October district, in dangerously close proximity to some of the city’s best and least salubrious clubs. What more could you need?
Bosco Fresh Fest
- When: Saturday 29th June
- Where: Pioneers’ Palace, Moscow (Vorobyovy Gory Metro Station)
- Tickets: boscofreshfest.com
Built in 1962 as a gathering point for the best and brightest young people in the Soviet Union, Moscow’s Pioneers’ Palace will again fulfill its original function this summer, as the city’s youth flock there for Bosco Fresh Fest. While past appearances from artists as diverse as Mos Def, Fever Ray and John Newman have made the festival an eclectic affair, the lineup for 2019 is being kept tightly under wraps. The already-confirmed James Blake and Róisín Murphy, however, suggest that this summer’s Fresh Fest will continue in the same vein as previous editions. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements to come – this one won’t disappoint.
- When: Friday 5th – Sunday 7th July
- Where: ZIL Cultural Centre, Moscow (Avtozavodskaya Metro Station)
- Tickets: bolfest.com
While its name – the Russian word for “pain” – suggests something in equal parts intense and terrifying, Bol actually has the most varied lineup of any Moscow festival this year. The three-day event has typically been a platform for Russia’s most interesting artists, with the likes of IC3PEAK, Monetochka and Pasosh among the highlights of this summer’s edition. But with the British Embassy helping the festival to bag a strong UK contingent including SOPHIE and Damon Albarn’s The Good, the Bad, the Queen, as well as US hip hop titans/headphone destroyers Death Grips bringing the noise on the Sunday, this year will be very special indeed. Bring your earplugs – this is going to be noisy.
- When: Friday 12th – Sunday 14th July
- Where: Gorky Park, Moscow (Park Kultury Metro Station)
- Tickets: park.live
One of the biggest events of the summer, Park Live offers a more mainstream vibe than some of the other festivals listed here, with the likes of Gorillaz, MUSE and the Red Hot Chili Peppers drawing huge crowds in recent years. Because of that, Park Live always feels massive and this year’s festival, headlined by 30 Seconds to Mars, Bring Me the Horizon and Die Antwoord, will be no different. Even if you prefer to pretend you grew out of this year’s headliners when you were 15, Park Live’s central location in Gorky Park makes it the perfect place to spend a warm July evening before heading off to sample world-class Moscow nightlife.
- When: Saturday 3rd August
- Where: Kolomenskoye Park, Moscow (Kolomenskaya Metro Station)
- Tickets: picnic.afisha.ru
Held in the resplendent setting of Kolomenskoye Park, a former royal estate in the south of Moscow, Afisha’s Picnic is one of the most hotly-awaited events of any Moscow summer. The festival will only last one day, but what a day it’ll be. This year’s Picnic boasts possibly the best lineup of the summer, with appearances from The Cure, Pusha T, Mura Masa and Royal Blood confirmed and many more still to be announced. With 390 hectares of World Heritage Site parkland to play with, it will feel like a full-blown countryside festival, but just a short metro ride from the centre of Moscow.
- When: Thursday 15th – Sunday 18th August
- Where: Nikola-Lenivets Art Park, Kaluga Region (~4 hours from Moscow)
- Tickets: signal.live
While it all verges on a bit Rainbow Rhythms, this four-dayer at renowned “art village” Nikola-Lenivets, about four hours from Moscow, promises to be quite something. The festival’s musical lineup has yet to be announced, but that’s not what matters here: Signal’s idyllic location in the Ugra National Park, impressive light shows and bohemian atmosphere make it an experience unlike any other. If you don’t fancy the trek into the Russian countryside, a mini version of the festival in Moscow on the 1st June is on hand to give you a taste of what’s on offer.
Alfa Future People
- When: Friday 16th – Sunday 18th August
- Where: Bolshoe Kozino, Nizhny Novgorod Region (~4 hours from Moscow)
- Tickets: afp.ru
One of the biggest electronic festivals in Europe, Alfa Future People has gained a reputation among music lovers worldwide for its extravagant stages, huge pyrotechnical displays and Blade Runner-esque visuals. AFP’s setting is just as idyllic as Signal’s, and conveniently located in close proximity to Nizhny Novgorod – a city easily reachable from Moscow and well worth a visit in itself. For three days, the festival will turn a sleepy village on the Volga River into a futuristic mecca for EDM fans. Whether you’re into drum and bass, dubstep, house, or just fancy a mad one, you’re in for a treat at Alfa Future People.
Don’t forget to come back to this article over the summer as we’ll be adding to it when more line-ups are announced.