Places to visit in winter in Belarus

Places to visit in winter in Belarus

Winter holidays are of great importance for Belarus. While summer can grant you with a good mood even if you don’t have any special plans, simply because of nice & sunny weather, winter is the time of the year that requires extra efforts from you to make your day and/or your vacation. It still can be sunny and snowy, but, well… Yeah, it’s cold, and get ready not to feel too comfortable outside, unless you dress up ski-style.
Maybe it’s not that bad though, if you look at all those people in amusement and recreation spots, which Belarus, by the way, has many.
The landscape in the country is rather flat, however, there are two major ski resorts within one-hour ride from the capital – Silichy and Logoisk. They are artificial, and equipped with all the necessary facilities, such as ski and snowboard rental offices, snow making machines, a chairlift, lots of cafes, where you can restore your powers with hot tea or mulled wine, have some barbeque and pies. If this is your first time – you can hire a trainer. They even have saunas on the territory of the resorts, which is actually the best they could have thought up to make the winter rolling. They literally have everything you can think of regarding winter outdoor entertainment both for adults and for kids. Forget about everything, forget about time – strong floodlights are on until late at night, and some say that night skiing is safer than that in the dull winter daylight. There are cabins and hotels on the territory, so stay as long as you want.

One more resort is located within the city limits of Minsk, it’s called Solnechnaya Dolina (“Sunney Valley”), and it’s great for beginners or families with kids – besides skiing and snowboarding facilities, there’s a snow tubing-sledge rental, and if dressed up properly, you can slide down the hill in a donut laughing out loud and probably eat some snow on the way down. If this is not fun enough for you, they also have a toboggan there.

The resorts are open until March or even April depending on the weather, and if you make it there by the last day of the season you’ll be amused by the brightest event of the year – Californication.
What they call Californication is basically the official season closing, when everybody dresses up wild and slides down the last snow pile to get right in to the chill spring pool water. Told ya, wild.

Tell me though, have you ever been in a forest in winter? Around January in Belarus, when winter is in full force, everything is white or grey, and even the city colors somehow look washed out, when summer’s just a memory, and nothing in your mind, or in what you see once you look outside, tells you there ever will be a change, nor that spring will follow. Winter is still. It’s static. It’s quiet and numb. So have you ever been to the forest at this time?
Unlike summer, there’re only rare signs of its inhabitants. The air is thick, it would not let the sounds through, and the silence is almost endless.
I don’t put it like it’s a bad thing, no. On the contrary, how often do we find ourselves in the middle of a silent zone? With no string from the outer world reaching out to us? No cars, no radio, no phone calls, no noise from electric appliances, no shops, no commercial, no work, no bars, no people, no people… It feels like your mind is taking a nice bath in soft and comfy silence. All that, with a stunning black-and-white landscapes, and a promise of a hot dinner near the fireplace, once back from your forest meditation.

That’s what winter forest is about, and Belarus is covered with forest. We’ve mentioned that in an article on “What to do in summer in Belarus”, in the section about agro tourism – a hideout in a cabin, that could be rented for a weekend, or for eternity – up to you, and depending on how tired you are of the people around.
If not too tired, you could choose to visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park we mentioned in the section on the summer in Belarus. As the animals inhabiting it are of local origin, so most of them obviously do not take vacations to spend winter in a tropical paradise (which is my personal wish to you, regardless how much I love winter forest). Winter in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is not considered a low season at all. Moreover, they hold lots of winter festivals and celebrations, one can ride a huge old-fashioned sledge, have traditional dishes, or take part in celebration preparations. Summer in this place is all about nature, winter is all about creating fairy tales.

Country’s most famous tourist brand is located there – the estate of Belarusian Father Frost (let’s call him Santa Claus, as they are basically the same). About 150 thousand people visit it annually. This is one of the most beautiful places of residence of Santa Claus, which are now quite a few in the world.

Decorated with openwork carvings, lovingly executed sculptures of fairy-tale characters, an elegant Christmas tree, colored garlands, sparkling with thousand lights, – all this adds to the atmosphere of an enduring holiday, a sense of magic. After all, reality is what you make it, right?

Speaking of celebrations, unless you are a sociopath, you will LOVE winter holidays in Minsk. One week before the New Year – the biggest celebration of the year – and almost two weeks after. People are cheerful, streets are tidy and decorated, holiday fuzz is overwhelming!

Give in and let it carry you to a small cafe serving Christmas specials – cinnamon latte and ginger cookies, can you smell it? Yeah! Then walk along the streets lit up with Christmas lights and festive decorations, Minsk city center is marvelous at this time of the year!
When the warmth and high spirits you felt from latte are finally worn out, enter one of the many ice-skating rinks and have a ride with strangers and couples around you. Music playing along, people fooling and falling around – the more the merrier!