Festivals and Events
From spectacular firework displays to traditional pagan festivals, a number of events take place in Russia throughout the year worth visiting for and here's our pick of the best.
New Year's Day
This is the primary event on the Russian calendar when families enjoy a huge feast and share gifts around a large fir tree, traditions that many in the Western World associate with Christmas instead of the New Year. The celebrations peak with a dazzling display of fireworks in Moscow's famed Red Square.
Orthodox Christmas Day
Celebrated on the 7th January in accordance with the Julian calendar, Christmas Day in Russia focuses on religious traditions with families attending Mass and a special 12 dish feast in honour of the 12 Apostles. This combines with New Year's to form the country's 10 day holiday.
Maslenitsa (Butter Week)
During the week before Orthodox Lent Russians eat buttery pancakes and rich foods containing dairy and eggs in preparation for the 40 days of fasting. Each day holds significance including Cleansing Day when Russians will clear out their cupboards and wardrobes of unwanted items for the coming spring, and Forgiveness Day when Russians make amends with those they are argued with.
Easter is one of the most important holidays in Russia and celebrated a week or two after the Catholic Easter with decorated eggs and special foods including pashka
, a pyramid-shaped food made from cheese. Many families will attend church for an Easter service.
Held on the 9th May, Victory Day in Russia marks Hitler's defeat and commemorates the millions of Russians who lost their life during World War II. Military parades are held in major cities across Russia with war veterans donning their medals in honour of their fallen comrades. Some of the most impressive parades take place in Moscow's Red Square.
White Nights Festival
The annual White Nights Festival
is held in St. Petersburg at the start of the summer when the city experiences midnight sun thanks to the long days of daylight. It's an international celebration of the arts with a series of classical ballet, opera and music events. As part of the festival a number of St. Petersburg's most popular museums, including the Hermitage, stay open all night with free entry.
This annual exhibition of interactive entertainment, consoles and computer games in Moscow is the largest in Russia and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. New innovations are revealed by companies such as Sony and Microsoft with gaming tournaments held offering attractive prizes.
Held in Moscow at the Olympic Stadium, this is Russia largest tennis tournament with 48 competitors playing across singles and doubles. The high-value prize draws some of the world's best players as well as plenty of home-grown talent. The event takes place September/October each year.