St Petersburg through the year – Part 4 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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City life begins to gain pace as people return from their dacha and families begin to prepare for the start of school. In September, when theatres re-open after the summer break, the city’s cultural life resumes. The Mariinskiy (Kirov) returns from touring, and new plays and operas are premiered. October marks the start of the festival season, with guest musicians and theatre groups from all over the world taking part. The crisp autumn weather is ideal for gathering mushrooms. Popular hunting spots can be found to the northwest of the city around Zelenogorsk and Repino. Enthusiastic mushroom gatherers rise early to hunt for chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, podberyozoviki (brown mushrooms) and podosinoviki (orange-capbolens). The locals are skilled in identifying edible mushrooms while amateur pickers should be aware of the dangers of poisonous ones. An activity with fewer potential side-effects might be a trip on the hydrofoil to Peterhof to see the magnificent fountains before they are switched off for the winter
Knowledge Day (Den znaniy) is the 1st Sep. The city is full of children heading for their first day back at school and normally laden with flowers.
Theatre Festival of the Baltic Countries (Teatralnyy festival Baltiyskikh stran) begins in Oct. Actors, clowns and pantomime artists gather from the Baltic countries to perform in theatres and on the streets with two weeks of mayhem.
Day of National Unity, 4 Nov. A reminder that the Russian Federation is a multinational country with various religions and political parties. Sound Ways, Modern Music Festival (Zvukovyye puti) is mid-Nov. This is a chance to catch up with some of the most avant-garde trends in jazz and contemporary classical music from Russia and the rest of Europe. Musicians invited from abroad abound, and many of Russia’s most renowned performers refuse international engagements in order to take part in this home grown festival.
As the ice thickens on the waters and the snow deepens, people head for the outdoors once more. Children’s sledges are not expensive to buy, and all other equipment can be hired. Cross-country skiing needs no lessons to make it fun. Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk parks provide ski and sledge hire at the ski bases. Skates can be hired for use in the rink at Moskovskiy Park Pobedy by the Park Pobedy metro station in the southern suburbs, and also at the Central Park of Culture and Rest metro station. The truly hardened members of the local “walruses” swimming club break the ice by the Peter and Paul Fortress every day to take an early morning dip. In the midst of these winter activities come New Year and Christmas. New Year is the big holiday, while Christmas itself is celebrated according to the Orthodox calendar, on the 7th January. Many people also still celebrate Old New Year, which falls on the 14th January. A seasonal delight is the Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, at the Mariinskiy Theatre
Constitution Day (Denkonstitutsii) is on 12th Dec. When Yeltsin’s new constitution replaced the Brezhnev version, a new constitution day replaced the old one. Fireworks are set off all over town at 10pm. Musical Encounters in the Northern Palmyra is held in Dec–Jan. This classical music festival is the last one of the year and is made even more special by the outside backdrop of snowy streets and frozen water ways. New Year’s Eve (Novyy god), 31 Dec. is still the biggest holiday of the year. New Year’s Eve is best celebrated with the local “champagne”, Shampanskoye. This is considered to be a family celebration, with people dressed as Grandfather Frost, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus and the Snow Maiden, who are the traditional bearers of gifts.
If this has tempted you to visit then read some of the follow articles which go into greater depth on the attractions available to the tourist visitor.
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