Russian entertainment market is young and fast growing and can offer various facilities for very budget. Let's see what are most popular places Russian while away the time in.
Russians are far from obsession with eating out. Most people in Russia and other post Soviet countries cook at home. Russian people (especially older, less Westernized folks) almost never eat out. Employed people quite rarely have habit of eating lunch out every day, but most often bring packed container with home food or have company paid lunches (rarely). Russian love eating out as a treat.
A lunch in a restaurant is more often a business meeting. A restaurant or a cafe is often a place for romantic dinner or a sip of cocktail in a company of friends. Unlike USA or England, dining out in Russia or Ukraine is reserved for special occasions. It is also a weekend option and a regular place where a wedding banquet is arranged. In general going to a restaurant is also considered a festive occasion. In Russian and Ukrainian culture only wealthy people eat out on a regular basis, therefore the prices at restaurants may be adjusted accordingly.
Coffee shops, tea rooms and confectionaries are especially popular for friends meeting, and a place to try amazing coffees from around the world, homemade pastries, sandwiches and bakery. They also serve midday snacks or quick and inexpensive meals.
World famous fast food restaurants are available in almost every city. Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and Baskin Robbins are some of the chains working in Russia. McDonald's is a current market leader. It is a predictable place to have a fast snack when you travel, use a clean WC room (very appreciated by Russians) and a free WiFi zone. Almost no one eats there on the regular basis due to Russian suspicion about fast food and a habit to eat at home. Besides, even McDonald's prices are not affordable for all Russians. What’s more, Russian fast food competitors serving “national” fast food are also popular and usually inexpensive.
Unlike westerners, Russians, as well as the people in Ukraine and Belarus quite rarely eat out or go to bar alone. A lonely Russian girl at the bar counter most usually is waiting for someone to come. Quite often a single girl at the bar or sitting down or standing against the wall could be a girl plying her trade. Even most beautiful and glamorous looking girls could be girls for hire. So a bar might be not the best option to meet someone.
Major Russian cities can boast a vibrant night life and scene for everyone. The population of avid Russian clubbers are mostly the people of art, show business: TV, students sponsored by parents, gals looking for a sugar daddy and all those seeking PR, certain reputation, new contacts and beneficial acquaintances. The income might vary, but the clubbers are usually fashion and status wise. They try their best to get to most fashionable and top notch parties popular with celebrities and Russian oligarchs.
Russian night clubs usually have dress code, face control policy, often charge a cover and impose their own rules on the visitors. The club cards are distributed among the regular visitors and are used as a so called entrance ticket to the club. There are specialized night clubs for jazz, underground rock or alternative music lovers or limited admission for men or women only. Some categories of people are almost never allowed to exclusive nightspots. Girls and guys under 18 almost never get through the threshold. People with southern appearance are also approached with suspicion.
One has to be rich, beautiful, a regular clubber, or know someone to make it into Moscow's top clubs, bars, and even some restaurants. Guys should dress well. Women should dress as skimpy and Russian-fashionable as possible. The fact the night clubs are made so desirable and have limited access in does not guarantee safe and friendly atmosphere in a nice company of people. They are often a free zone for drugs, random sex and gambling.
Most vibrant venues in Russia`s capital are "Metelitsa" Entertament Center, "Amazonia" club, B.B.King, DOLLS club and others.
Disco clubs and dance parties are less exclusive then night clubs and cater of various groups of people from the teenagers to mature fans of 70's disco dance songs. There are parties covered for New Years’, Halloween, Woman’s day. Discos are popular in all Russian places from small rural town to megapolices. Some of them may have a specific nature a foreigner is not aware of. So you’d better go there with the locals or be instructed on the behavior code in advance.
In 2009 The Russian government shut down every last legal casino and slot-machine parlor across the land, The Kremlin offered the gambling industry to relocate to four regions in remote areas of Russia, as many as 4,000 miles from the capital. Under the new law, casinos and slot machines were allowed to operate only in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea; the Primorsky region on the Pacific coast; the mountainous Altai region in Siberia; and near the southern cities of Krasnodar and Rostov. Only “Azov city” zone in Krasnodar region started to operate since then. The other 3 await for investment. And it may take months or years before major legal gambling resumes in Russia.
These measures however drove the gambling underground, and criminalized it even more than it already had been. Underground casinos have mushroomed across Russia since the law banning gambling everywhere except in four remote zones. Besides, modern technologies allow online gambling, which is quite hard to monitor. As a result of these measures the authorities had to launch a fight against the illegal gambling industry through anti-gambling attacks. The special police departments were created and financed to track and shut down illegal casinos throughout Russia.
The gaming industry in Belarus is quickly developing and welcomes Russians. The absence of border and closeness of the two countries makes gambling in Belarus an attractive entertainment for Russians. Today, there are dozens of casinos, and the popularity of gambling in Belarus is only continuing to grow.
The national outlawing of gambling took place in Ukraine in 2009. However the country seems to soon reintroduce gambling casinos whilst keeping the ban on gaming machines. The information on the news proved that the legislation permitting gambling development would be tabled soon because of the anticipated Euro 2012 Ukraine plans to host. In coming future it is planned to adopt a law, in accordance with which it will be possible to open a casino in 4 and 5-sta hotels with no less than 60 rooms.
It was Peter the Great who introduced Billiards in Russia personally ordering the first tables be brought from Holland. Since that time Russians have mastered a lot of versions of the game - French carambole (carom), English snooker, American pool - but they still tend to prefer their own version of the pyramid. Billiards in Russia was restricted in the USSR and was considered the entertainment for the criminals. Since the ban had been lifted billiards experienced an impetuous revival. All major Russian cities have the number of club-bars, billiards rooms, billiards bars and other well equipped places where you can spend a wonderful time playing the game. This game isn’t any more a monopoly of wealthy people. Its spectacular and dynamic features attract a very large number of young people and women. Even teen-agers and children attend special training courses. This has become even more important, as billiards is for the first time included into the list of Olympic games 2000.
10 Pin Bowling is relatively new sport in Russia whose popularity is growing. It was exclusive entertainment for new Russians before 1998 and bowling alley were rare in Russia. Since then the bowling clubs have proliferated in the country. There are currently around 400 bowling clubs. Most of them are in Moscow and St-Petersburg and they still pack the crowds. The average price per hour is 25 UDS and the clubs target Russian middle class. It's a common occurrence to see people lined up at the entrances of the top bowling clubs and entertainment centers. The top spots offer food, discos, fashion shows and big-screen sports events - for a price. Bowling in Russia isn’t just a sport - it's also a complete entertainment experience. Nearly every huge trading center is ready to allocate some space for bowling.
More Russians explore the pleasures of traditionally unpopular sports in the country, like curling, golf, indoor rock climbing, rollerblading, wakeboarding, windsurfing, funboarding, squash and some others.
Rollerblading is probably most affordable mass outdoor activity that enjoys high popularity in Russia now. Parks, embankments and pedestrian zones are most regular practicing places for rollerbladers and rollerskaters. Skating in Gorky Park, Victory park and the park adjacent to the Exhibition of Economic Achievements, the hills around Moscow University in Moscow is the real treat. Victory Seaside Park on Krestovsky island is the best place for roller skating in St-Petersburg because of its lovely tree-lined roads and beautiful views across the Baltic Sea. Indoor rollerblading rinks providing instruction,roller blades, roller skates and gear are available in Russia's big cities.
With skateboarding as the immensely popular activity among the youth in Russia, there are only 4 skate parks in the country – in Moscow and St. Petersburg. So the skaters practice in the parks, on the pedestrian areas, near the monuments as there is lots of space with good surface usually, etc. Park of Victory on Poklonnaya Hill is a cult place for Moscow skaters. There is lot of stairs of various high. Great number of good, not very high ledges for manuals. And very smooth marble surface. The police however do not welcome the skaters. Another skate spots in Moscow are monument to the sky defenders in Krylatskoe and VDNH
Curling is available in Russia’s major cities mainly. It is becoming fashionable and is compared with gambling. Hot Russian women's curling team certainly adds popularity to this sport. Curling clubs welcome amateurs for weekend training and Russian Curling Federation even has an ambition to make curling a mass yard game in Moscow.
Ice skating is traditionally favorite winter pastime in Russia. It is especially enjoyable for the children and the youth.
There are frozen lakes and outdoor ice skating rinks during the winter and indoor ice skating arenas during the warm summer months. Apart from the long existing sites, new public synthetic ice skating rinks are being opened to cater for group skate and hockey. Moscow is ice skating paradise. The ice skating rink on Red Square is one of the most well-known outdoor skating arena in Moscow, especially for tourists. Some parks in Moscow open ice skating rinks during the winter. Gorky Park's ice skating rink is popular for its ice disco complete with lights and music. Some other favorite outdoor rinks are in the Hermitage Garden, Petrovka and Kolomenskoe.
Ice palaces are available in Belarus: Minsk, Grodno, Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel. 26 ice palaces and skating arenas have already been built in the country, even in sparsely populated towns. Minsk Ice Palace “Minsk Arena” is the biggest and hosts various indoor events.
Amusement parks enjoy a great popularity as a family recreation zone and are available in almost every Russian city. In 2006 there were 700 amusement and entertainment parks and funfairs in Russia. They are not like Disneyland or Port Aventura, except for the notorious Transvaal waterpark in Moscow which was based on an African theme. It collapsed in 2004. The Russian type of amusement park is called Park of Culture and Leisure and includes a vast park zone or a botanical garden, cafes, attractions, usually a lake, pond or is built on the river banks like Gorky Park in Moscow, children’s play areas, fun fairs, Ferris wheel, sculptures, fountains, alleys, monuments and natural or artificial skating rinks.
Russia's first amusement park was built in 1912 in St Petersburg and was named Luna Park after its London namesake. It was closed later and there is a stadium there at the moment. Most popular St.Petersburg public recreation zone is Krestovsky Island where one can ramble through the alleys of Maritime Victory Park, take advantage of the numerous sporting facilities, or visit the Divo Ostrov amusement park with a number of modern extreme, family and children’s attractions. There are also a few good restaurants on the island.
Moscow’s Gorky Central Park is probably Russia’s biggest and most famous amusement park . It is divided into two parts by the Moscow River. The first includes children’s play areas, fun fairs, various amusement rides, an enormous Ferris wheel a range of funfair rides and rollercoaster. You can also hire boats or horses, go bungee jumping, and there's a sports club with tennis courts. In winter the whole area becomes a vast skating rink. The river shore turns into the beach and open air club in summer. Half of the park consists of gardens and woodland that combines the former Golitsynskiy and Neskuchniy Gardens, a quite place to sit on bench with a book, feed the squirrels or roller skate.
Water parks are extremely popular in the country. Indoor water parks continue to appear in many cities across the country, not only in Black Sea resorts. Russia is the home to Europe's largest water park from the point of view of water displacement. The tonnage of Tiki-Tak waterworld, opened in 2008 in the city of Anapa, makes up 6,000 cubic meters. Sochi, Adler and Lazarevskoe inhabit a number of aqua parks with sea water and a various attractions and pools. Aqualoo is one of the most known and provides recreation facilities all the year round.
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