Moscow conjures up images of fairy-tale sights and cold winters, but there’s so much more to the city. From dramatic classical music to gravity-defying acrobatics, Moscow is home to the most exciting performing arts on the planet – and you can find them all year round.
For centuries, the Bolshoi Theatre has been a cultural reference throughout the world. How many ballets and operas have taken place within its historic walls? Thousands, it would seem. That's quite a number of fluffy tutus and men in tights. Host to the Bolshoi dance company, the repertoire is simply astonishing, be it for classical ballet or contemporary creations. Attending one of the performances is therefore an essential part of Muscovite cultural life. If you can get tickets, go for the traditional winter performance of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker or Swan Lake, performed on the theatre's historical stage.
A few hours in Gorky Park is definitely a way of taking the pulse of the city. The vast green expanse that is Gorky Park stretches along the Moskva River, all the way up to Sparrow Hills. It’s a real breath of fresh air for Muscovites who come here on a regular basis. More than just a park, Gorky is a world in itself; a place for all generations to relax and take in some culture, play sports, dine at one of the cafes or enjoy a long walk along the newly laid-out Andreevskaya embankment. The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art offers exhibitions all year round too and is well worth a visit.
Opened by Frenchman André Dellos in 1999, Café Pushkin has rapidly become a Moscow institution. Ironic really, as Pushkin is a celebrated author, better known for his ties to Saint Petersburg. Located in a beautiful historic building similar to the ones found in the northern Russian city, you can revel in the Café’s décor: mahogany woodwork, a monumental staircase, high ceilings... every detail reminds you of an era long gone. The owners have even collected ancient clocks and telescopes for the library and adorned the shelves with old books. Despite the other-era feel, the atmosphere at Pushkin Cafe is vibrant. It’s open 24 hours, which makes it a perfect hangout after a Bolshoi evening or a club night, and offers the possibility to experience exceptional products such as caviar, pickles, Russian cured meats and of course, pies, all with impeccable table service. Pairing these delights with a crisp Dom Ruinart champagne or vintage Dom Pérignon just goes without saying
You may feel your head swimming as you climb to the top of the modern building that houses White Rabbit, but once there, you'll find an incredible sight: a huge canopy that offers a breath-taking panoramic view over Moscow – just the place to enjoy a glass of 2008 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé, even in the freezing cold. By day, grab a centre table to look up to the sky. In the evening, the choices are vast as the restaurant is spread over several levels. The tables overlooked by a gallery of white rabbit paintings are particularly cosy. Food-wise, the oh-so talented Vladimir Mukhin is one of the most influential Russian chefs of recent years, revisits traditional dishes with great subtlety and innovation. It comes as no surprise that White Rabbit made it to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017.
Secret bars are just fantastic and entering Mendeleev Bar is quite a challenge. You’ll feel like a character out of a spy novel heading to an illicit rendezvous. First, head to Lucky Noodles, an inexpensive Asian-inspired restaurant. All you’ll see are noodles; it’s not the most promising of places at first glance, but continue through to the far end of the restaurant. Behind the counter, you’ll find a curtain. Continue down the stairs to a dark, unexpected basement: welcome to the Mendeleev Bar. Vaulted cellars, antique furniture, large leather sofas and almost decrepit walls… The space almost looks as if a secret group has set up residence. There’s no need to whisper though and you can spend the evening sipping one of the beverages concocted by mixologist Roman Milosteviy. Try one of their Very Special Hennessy cognac cocktails. On Thursday evenings, the suave jazzy atmosphere hits the spot and Fridays and Saturdays are for dancing.