New Year celebrations start in mid-December. What to do in St Petersburg during winter holidas? As we earlier agreed with you, tours to Moscow and St Petersburg are best in winter and here are 7 fun activities in St Petersburg in winter 2015-2016.
Christmas fairs and markets
Annual festivals and fairs are visited by millions of people before and during winter holidays. St Petersburg is the fourth most populated city in Europe (after Moscow, London and Paris), so you can imagine how crazy it will be!
This time, there will be more thematic sites and therefore, more guests. Practically for the month Saint Petersburg will turn into a magical land where you can meet your favorite fairytale characters in the street, take part in different master classes and Christmas quests, or win a contest for the best costume or Instagram photo.
Over 20 fairs will be opened in different parts of the cultural capital of our country, and several hundred booths with souvenirs and refreshments will operate: warm up with hot mulled wine, eat pancakes with jam or caviar and buy gifts- from hand-painted toys to Christmas teas and ginger cookies.
Open-air Ice skating
Ice skating is one of the most popular winter activities in Russia.
The total length of waterways in St Petersburg is 217.5 km which is roughly the total area of Amsterdam! So, trust us, there is no shortage of skating rinks in SPb.
And December and January are the perfect time to visit the rings of Saint P. Skating rinks are famous for its excellent ice: every two hours they are polished to a mirror shine. You can also grab a snack in one of dozens cafes. Ice rinks have an excellent illumination and the perfect soundtracks: exclusive music selected for each winter season.
If you get tired of skating you can ride a snowmobile. Most of romantic rinks are located in quiet and urban parks. An ideal place for those who love to skate quietly holding hands. Today you can also meet celebrities here, especially during the holidays. The rinks often runs various contests, parties and workshops. Growing garlands of lights, the historic center of the city – here you can feel the spirit of magic Christmas Saint Petersburg.
Get to all the best festive spots on our St Petersburg day tours.
Winter Ballet season
Classical Russian ballet is popular and in demand at any time of year, and there is a dazzling variety to choose from in the Northern Capital. Among the options are the productions of St.Petersburg’s Tchaikovsky Ballet Theatre at the Hermitage Theatre, which performs famous Tchaikovsky Ballets such as “Swan Lake” and “Romeo and Juliet” accompanied by the Congress Orchestra. Have a great night seeing the best ballets in over 70 theater, including Alexandrinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsky Theatre, Kamennoostrovsky Theatre and others.
And, of course THE theater of Saint Petersburg – Mariinsky Theatre – will open its doors to thousands of quests. Come and see the most famous and worldwide favorite winter ballet – the Nutcracker.
Ice ballet show “the Snow King”
Watch the continuation of ice show “Snow King-2”, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Snow Queen” during winter holidays. In the first part of the show Gerda defeated the wicked trolls (the illusionists the Safronov brothers), terrifying robbers and the Snow King himself.
But the trolls have found a magic stone and have revived the Snow King! So, who will come to help Gerda? What tricks will wicked trolls and gnomes use? You can find all answers to the questions at the Ice Place. The main characters are performed by famous Russian figure skaters: Irina Slutskaya (Gerda), Evgeny Plyushchenko (The Snow King), and all the rest “actors” are professional ice skaters and Olympic champions.
Christmas Tree for kids
“The Christmas Tree” in our country means the main children’s Christmas party. The main Christmas Tree of the country is, of course, in Kremlin but these parties are also held in all Russian cities and in Saint Petersburg in particular.
Each year thousands of children attend the matinees. As always, famous film directors, artists and actors work on the shows. Better come in advance: fun games, dancers and competitions begin in the lobby long before the matinee itself. Each theatre and concert hall make sure that all children are having the best time of their life.
If you have just one day in St Petersburg want to cover more of the city rather than spending the day in one place – voila! – lots and lots of buses, trolley buses, old trams, boats, yachts, air balloons and helicopters are here at your service.
The atmosphere of a feast
What can be better and cozier then the city decorated for Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Saint Petersburg turns into a magical city. The historical center is decorated with hundreds of illuminations, all main sights are also illuminated, all cafes and shops decorate their shop windows a special atmosphere.
The embankments, bridges and canals are decorated with lights and magic garlands. Considering 1/10 of the whole territory of the city is in water, you can imagine how many lights and garlands there going to be! But this is not all. There are 580 bridges in St Petersburg! Yes, you read right, there is 0 in the end. How about exploring at least 10% of all bridges?
The Northern Venice is gorgeous at night all year round, and in winter it literally blossoms!
Balls, historical dancing parties, masquerades
If you have 2 days in St Petersburg or – woohoo! – even more, we have something special for you. Something off the beaten path.
St Petersburg was the capital of Russia for 200 years (1712-1918) during the reign of Catherine II and 10 more Emperors. Those were the time of great balls and royal parties.
During several centuries masquerades and dancing ball parties were the main entertainment activities for both rich and ordinary people. Nowadays each person can feel as a prince or princess visiting annual balls which are held in winter in various palaces of Saint Petersburg. You can rent special historic costumes and have some dancing lessons (each palace can give them to you before the ball) and have the fun of your life. You can experience the history of St Petersburg not just in museums (at least 300, by the way) but also through balls. Flash back to the 19th century!
For Moscow holidays check 11 things you can’t miss this winter in Moscow. For more fun and inspiration check 10 winter fun things to do in Moscow. Total 21! Enough to keep you busy for a day? You tell us.
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