There are around ten official public holidays in Belarus each year. Those that are well known are either international or religious – New Year, Christmas, Easter. Other national holidays are connected to the Soviet past of the country and require some explanation. If you happen to be in Minsk on the 3rd of July, feel free to use this ultimate guide on Belarus Independence Day in Minsk.
When has Belarus become independent?
The Independence Day is celebrated since 1997 to commemorate the date when Minsk was liberated from the Nazis during World War II, on the 3rd of July in 1944. Even though the country was liberated, choosing this exact date and occasion to celebrate The Independence Day is still bringing up controversies for several reasons. For example, the word Belarus, as a name of the country, was first officially used on the 25th of March in 1918, when “Belarusian Peoples Republic” was founded after the fall of Russian Empire and October Revolution. Soon after that, it became a part of the Soviet Union, until the 25th of July 1991, when the USSR signed the Declaration of Independence. It is this date, 25th of July, that was celebrated officially as the Independence Day till 1996, before being changed by the government for the 3rd of July.
Watch the military parade
If you want to see the parade from the first row, you should try to get as close to the Great Patriotic War Museum, as early as possible. The show always starts at 9 AM, but there are a lot of people who come to Minsk from the neighbouring towns to watch it. So if you arrive at 8 AM, you might already lose a good viewing spot. The military parade lasts for about an hour, followed by a parade of athletes and factory vehicles, giving you a strange nostalgia for the USSR, that you've never thought you'd experience.
Great Patriotic War Museum, Minsk, Belarusave. Pobediteley 8, Minsk, Belarus
If you’re lucky to be in Minsk several days before, you might encounter a parade rehearsal. Even though it’s hard to predict the exact time and place where all the military aircraft will fly during the rehearsal, other motorised vehicles will be at the place of the final show. Rehearsals usually take place after the rush hour to avoid creating traffic jams. Still, on the last days of June and the first days of July, I recommend counting an extra 30 minutes for each of your trips around the city centre.
Where to go in Minsk on the Independence Day
After the parade, multiple events are happening in most of the districts of Minsk. If you’re staying in the outskirts of the city and you are thinking to go home,n you can follow the music to get to a smaller performance venue in the neighbourhood. It might be even more fun than if you’re in the city centre. Additionally, you can check the sites near the Palace of Sports, Holy Spirit Cathedral and the Palace of the Republic. Music shows and peculiar performances will be happening there all day long.
Holy Spirit Cathedral, Minskpl. Svobody 23A, Minsk, Belarus
Palace of Sports, Minsk, Belarusave. Pobediteley 4, Minsk 220004, Belarus
Attention! In most of the official locations for the shows, there will be security control stations, checking if the visitors carry anything that might look dangerous. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you choose not to carry a bag with you. Also, in two out of three cases, it rains a lot on that day, so make sure you bring an umbrella or a rain-coat.
Finish the Independence Day with fireworks
Each year, fireworks are launched near the Great Patriotic War Museum, the same place where the parade started in the morning. It will be pretty crowded there, and you will need to pass several lines of security checks before getting in and out, so I can recommend watching it either from The Palace of Sports or from the hill close to the Holy Spirit Cathedral. It’s very close to the critical public transport junctions, so you won’t need to experience moving in a vast crowds, thanks to this ultimate guide on Belarus Independence Day in Minsk.
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