A fortified settlement existed on the site of modern-day capital all the way back in 11th century, but the first mention of Moscow appears in a medieval manuscript in 1147, as a place where local king Yuri the Long-Armed gathered with his buddies from a neighboring kingdom. In the middle of 19th century, the emperor suggested that Russia should have annual celebrations in honor of the former capital (by then, St Petersburg had taken its place as diplomatic and administrative center of the country).
Moscow city day is every kid’s favorite holiday and one of most cherished childhood memories for many adults. Every year, the celebration includes more and more events across different corners of the city, reflecting the variety of its cultural heritage. The city’s birthday is celebrated every first Saturday of September, but the program for the weekend usually appears online in mid-August. Public transportation is working long into the night on this occasion, allowing you to commute between parks on the outskirts of the city and downtown music bars and clubs.
The Moscow city day usually offers free access to multiple museums, art spaces, historical houses and galleries – both for those who were born and bred in the city, and for expats and travelers. Some museums offer special tours on this day: last year, for example, the Home Museum of Mikhail Bulgakov, one of the most prominent Muscovite writers of the early USSR, organized urban walks and opened up hidden rooms for those interested to see Moscow through the eyes of the writer and his wacky extraordinary characters.
Sporting activities are not scarce either: you can get a free lesson on a paraplane or partake in a bike parade through the streets of Moscow, visit the biggest public swimming pool in the city or join go-cart racing. In the center, you will almost always stumble upon soap bubbles or dancing flashmob, as well as open creative spaces for graffiti artists, musicians, designers, photographers and poets.
When it comes to music, the choice is really vast: from well-known bands to rising independent artists, international performers and urban classical orchestras.
And then of course, fireworks. They usually start around 10:30PM and are best observed from Moscow’s bridges, skyscrapers, and viewpoints, such as the one opposite Moscow State University, or Poklonnaya Gora. One thing you can be sure of: the city will be crowded, and it will be unforgettable.