For an event that is scheduled for May the 9th, this article will probably strike you as a little ‘early’. However, Moscow’s Victory Parade is a major tourist draw, for the (relative) locals and for foreigners alike. So if you desire to witness the spectacle first-hand then the time to book flights and hotels is surely now. In fact, right now is arguably late-in-the-day, so consider this your last boarding call.
This year’s parade will commemorate the 71st anniversary of German capitulation at the end of World War Two; a matter of national pride and respect throughout the country. Many cities and towns also hold their own parades/events, but ‘over here’ we don’t generally get to hear about those. Russia’s losses during the war were truly appalling; conservatively estimated to exceed 20,000,000 troops and civilians. Somewhere between 23 and 26 (million) seems to be the consensus, although the most extreme toll has been projected to be around the 40,000,000 mark. In any case, it’s a truly unimaginable amount.
“This parade has been downplayed in recent years but its significance shouldn’t be. Virtually all Russians sacrificed during the war, like many in other countries too. Those that fought on the front line faced a determined and oft times, better armed, German army”
Irrespective of our proximity to absolute annihilation during the Cold War (and you may not realise how close we came) and irrespective of Russia’s betrayed alliance with Germany during World War 2, we surely have at least a debt of respect to the Russian people (if not the government for their ultimate assistance during the war). We can be darkly thankful that Hitler opened a second front in the East, rather than concentrating his efforts and resources upon the West. However, back to the parade.
For the fortunate (or just, early) there a front row seats to be had; from the windows of hotels spaced in and around Red Square. Yes, you will undoubtedly pay a premium for the rental of prime real estate, though there is (was?) space for hire just a stone’s throw away from ground zero, with a good overlook and a friendlier price tag. I read some posts about an individual who tracked down an apartment on Tverskaya Street, for instance. It’s worth pulling out a map and doing a little research.
Speaking of which; I found an image of last year’s route – and it is worth pointing out (to most fellow Westerners) that Red Square is only a relatively small part of the parade. The final route and timings will not be released until much closer to the event but a favourite start/end location is Khodynka Field, roughly 8km out of the town centre! Yes, Moscow is big. I’ve also seen a 5km route drawn on another map, although starting/ending in same direction as Khodynka, albeit a little closer.
With this in mind, you are likely looking at a very 6 hour round trip to central Moscow, starting at 7am and reaching Red Square around 10am. That’s unless Moscow decides to throw down a wildcard of course. Following recent world events and Russia’s actions in Syria, security will no doubt be paramount, and any change of plan or indeed habit is to be expected.
Three hours later, 12,000 or so service personal, 800+ tanks and several hundred aircraft will have walked, driven and flew by your perch. Oh, and there’s also added distraction/disruption courtesy of the pre-event practices that are being held beforehand.
More on the Victory Parade next time.
[Photo by takazart]