It is possible to visit Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater in two ways: either you buy tickets to attend a ballet or opera performance, or you take a guided tour in English.
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If you are visiting Moscow, you are very likely to go to the famous Bolshoi theater. The visit can be done in two ways:
- Buying tickets online in advance to attend an opera or ballet.
- Take a guided tour in English to the historic building organized by the theater itself every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, or a private tour.
1. Bolshoi Theatre: Historic Stage, New Stage and Beethoven Hall
To understand better the process of buying tickets online, you must bear in mind that in the Bolshoi theater performances take place in 3 different areas:
- Historic stage. It is the main historic building dating from 1856, in which operas and ballets are performed.
- New stage. It is in a building near the historic area, but more modest and modern, and was originally built to house the performances when the main stage was being restored. In this stage, operas and ballets are performed in the same artistic quality. However, you will not have the opportunity to visit the historic building.
- Beethoven Hall. At the entrance of the historic building is the Beethoven hall, which is used for concert programs.
During the online ticket purchase you will get the indication of which stage it is. The advantages of the new stage are cheaper tickets and greater availability as demand is lower.
To visit both stages I recommend visiting the Google virtual tour of the Bolshoi Theatre.
2. How to buy tickets for the Bolshoi theater in Moscow
To purchase tickets the best thing you can do is go to the theater’s official website (English version available).
Tickets usually go on sale in about 2 or 3 months in advance (the website will inform the date that the tickets will go on sale online, you must pay attention).
The season usually ends at the end of July and starts again during the first weeks of September.
Prices can range from 300 rubles for the cheapest location, up to around 20,000 rubles. To purchase you have to follow these steps:
1. Register at the Bolshoi Theatre official website:
2. After completing the form you will receive an email with your username and password with which you can access your account: http://tickets.bolshoi.ru/en/orders/
3. Go to the address http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/timetable/ to see the performance programs: they are organized by date and the stage in which they will be performed (Historic Stage, New Stage or Beethoven Hall). It also indicates if there are electronic tickets (“Buy e-ticket” button), whether all the tickets have been already sold (“Sold out“) or whether they will go on sale (“Coming soon“).
4. Choose the performance and click “Buy e-ticket“. This will take you to a screen with the plane of the building and you can select your locations (the ones available will be displayed in green):
5. After selecting the tickets you just have to enter the name and pay by VISA or Mastercard. After it you can print the e-ticket:
If you were unable to get tickets on the theater’s official website, you can always try buying on other sites authorized by the theater, such as Parter, a great ticketing platform for all kinds of shows in Russia. The purchase process is done in Russian, but using the automatic translator is not difficult to do. Enter in the search box: Большой театр (Bolshoi Theater).
3. Guided tour of the Bolshoi Theatre
Another way to visit the Bolshoi Theatre is a guided tour of the historic building. Thus, the theater itself organizes guided tours every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday visits. It costs 2,000 rubles and the visit lasts more than one hour.
Guided tours take place at 11:00 (Russian) and at 11:30 (in English). During the theater holiday period there are no guided tours.
The tickets can’t be bought online. You must buy the ticket the same day of the visit at the sales desk of the historic theater building (at door 12). Since the tours are limited to 20 people per group, it is advisable to arrive early in the morning.
It is also possible to visit the Bolshoi through a 2-hour private guided tour, through the GetYourGuide platform. For a group of 6 the price is about 50 dollars per person.
4. Dress code when attending a performance
There is no specific dress code to go to the ballet or opera. All you need to know is that you have to be well dressed, but there is no obligation to wear a suit and tie or a gown. You can go even well dressed in jeans. The only thing is not to go in shorts or T-shirts or in torn jeans. You can see more details in the website of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre (see screenshot below).
In winter, keep in mind that coats, jackets or bulky clothing must be left in the theater’s cloakroom.
5. Dine at the Bolshoi theater
For dinner on the day of the opera you have two options:
- Have a quick meal during the performance break in the opera cafeteria.
- After the opera or ballet, you can go to a nearby restaurant. A good option is to dine at the Bolshoi restaurant, with typical Russian food, where if you present the ticket of the day, they give you a 10% discount (you can make a reservation from their website). I also recommend afterwards to see the Red Square illuminated at night.
6. Alternatives to the Bolshoi theater
The Bolshoi season begins throughout the month of September and ends in late July. Therefore, in August, when most people travel to Moscow, there are no representations. In these cases you have other alternatives:
Another good alternative (from June 15 to September 15) is to attend the Russian folk dance show of the Russian National Ballet “Kostroma” at the Folklore Theater (Olimpiyskiy prospect 14).
In St. Petersburg you can also attend some opera performance in the famous Mariinsky or Mikhalovsky theaters.