Real Russia Blog

Why you should go to St Petersburg this summer!
7
February
2018

Why you should go to St Petersburg this summer!

Is St. Petersburg on your bucket list yet?

No secret that White nights season in May-June is the perfect time to visit St. Petersburg. Be captivated by the lavish palaces and fountains and enjoy the scenic panoramas whilst strolling around the city. Study the majestic surroundings or take a trip on a river boat to admire the city from its waterways at night underneath the stars. But there’s so much more to do!

Russians highly appreciate culture, arts and traditions, and the beginning of the summer season is the best time to immerse yourself in a constant flow of cultural events and celebrations alongside the locals.

Here are the special events taking place in St Petersburg between May and June worth seeing!

Victory Day on 9 May

Victory day has always been a great celebration in Saint Petersburg, as the city survived an 872 day siege during WWII. The traditional Victory Day parade which consists of a concert, tulips for the veterans, joyful tears, and, of course, grand fireworks; all of these make this holiday very special. Read more about Victory Day in Russia.

Peterhof Fountains opening on 19 May

Every year the park of Peterhof hosts a special event, when its famous fountains are turned on after a long winter break. An all-day festival is held with a fanfare, classical music performance, fireworks and many other thrilling events.

The Museum night on 19 May

Straight after a busy day at Peterhof embark on a museum tour at night. Every year the Petersburg museums, libraries, Zoo, Planetarium and other venues join this international event and prepare many surprises, master classes, special exhibitions and original excursions. Take this great opportunity to take part in the special night programme of the Hermitage, explore the collection of the Russian Museum or set off to Pushkin to enjoy the midnight stroll in Ekaterina Park. The museums event programmes will be available later.


Peter and Paul Fortress at white night

City Day on 27 May

A tradition of Russian cities is to celebrate the day of the city’s founding. On 27 May 1703 Peter I founded a fortress on the Neva river, the Peter and Paul Fortress, that laid the foundation for the splendid city of Saint Petersburg.

The programme of the festive events is very intense: exhibitions, concerts, folk festivals, and, of course, the opening of the city fountains as a symbol of summer and new life. The celebration of St Petersburg 315th anniversary ends with a huge multi-colored burst of fireworks in the night sky.

Summer Garden – the most famous garden in St.Petersburg

‘The White Nights Stars’ Cultural Festival in May – July

The International Ballet and Opera Festival with over 20-year history takes place annually at the acclaimed Mariinsky theatre. It is one of the most interesting and largest musical events in the world. Every year, the Mariinsky Theatre delights lovers of opera, ballet and classical music with the best performances, great symphonic works, masterpieces of chamber music and theatrical premieres performed by the world stars.

Day of Russia on 12 June

St. Petersburg will celebrate this great holiday on a large scale – there will be many special events, various concerts, interesting exhibits and fireworks to complete the celebrations.

The annual festival “Scarlet Sails” on 23 June

​ A ship with scarlet sails on the Neva river

This celebration, organised in honour of alumnus and graduates, attracts up to 3.5 million viewers annually! Wonderful ships with scarlet sails, the symbol of hope and faith in the future, will sail on the Neva river accompanied by music, light show and fireworks, all making an incredible spectacle!

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Contact our friendly team to find out more about any of these events and get a true insight into St. Petersburg history and everyday Russian life. Start planning your dream tour today with a range of excursions we offer in St. Petersburg!

Real Russia Blog

Chinese New Year
19
December
2017

Chinese New Year

It is the most important annual event in China and a great opportunity for visitors to experience authentic Chinese traditions!


There is no better place to experience this unique Chinese festival than China itself. Immerse yourself in the colourful Chinese culture and celebrate this special time of year alongside the locals: with fireworks, family and a whole lot of dragons. This year China will welcome the year of the dog.

Date: from 15 February – 2 March 2018
Place: China.

Chinese New Year falls on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, which is 16th February 2018 in the Gregorian Calendar. China adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1911 so Chinese New Year was renamed the Spring Festival to mark the end of Winter and welcome Spring. However, the ancient traditions of the day remain unchanged.
Traditionally, the end of the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, is the Lantern Festival, where beautiful lanterns are displayed everywhere, and sweet rice dumpling soup is eaten. This celebration symbolizes the wish for a bright future.

Chinese New Year is the most important annual event in China and a great chance for visitors to experience authentic Chinese traditions!

How locals celebrate the New Year in China.

Preparing for the New Year celebrations, people clean their homes, buy gifts, clothing, food and items to decorate their house. Chinese people put New Year pictures on their walls and decorate their homes with red papers and couplets for happiness, wealth and longevity, and hang beautiful red lanterns.

In the evening of the Spring Festival Eve, many people set off fireworks and firecrackers, hoping to cast away bad luck and bring in good luck. Many people will wear new clothes and send Chinese New Year greetings to each other. People joyfully participate in various festivities, such as beating drums and striking gongs, dragon and lion dances.

​ The Lion Dance

It is a time to reunite with and visit relatives. A festive dinner is held on New Year’s Eve where families will gather to celebrate, normally in or near the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year’s Eve dinner is very large and traditionally includes meaty dishes, such as pork, chicken and fish. Most reunion dinners also feature a communal hot pot to signify the family gathering for the meal. Meals on this date have a big significance, certain foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune.

During the dinner family members exchange red envelops, which often contain money in certain numbers that represent good luck.

The first day of Chinese New Year is a time for younger people to honor their elders, families will visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The second day of the Chinese New Year is the time when married daughters visit their birth parents, relatives and close friends. Some believe that the second day is also the birthday of all dogs and give them special treats.

Most employees in China have at least seven days off work to celebrate the Spring Festival. However, the festival lasts for 15 days, from the Chinese New Year Eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. Various traditional customs and activities are held during the Lantern Festival that appeal to people of different ages, including watching lanterns and fireworks, guessing lantern riddles, performing folk dances, and eating yuanxiao (a rice ball stuffed with different fillings).

Symbols of the holiday.


The Chinese believe that while red is a symbol of happiness, gold is a symbol of wealth. Traditionally, red envelopes are passed out during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors and children. Red envelops almost always contain money and, sometimes, chocolate. Interestingly, the amount of money in the red packets should always be an even number, as odd numbers are associated with money given during funerals. The numbers six and eight are considered lucky so they are commonly found in the red envelopes.

Small gifts, usually of food or sweets are also presented to friends and relatives during Chinese New Year, for example, oranges cakes, biscuits, chocolates, candies, or other similar gifts.

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Did we inspire you to experince the greatest annual event in China? It’s never too early to book your trip! Contact our travel specialists to get assistance in planning your dream journey.

Real Russia Blog

The Camel Festival in Mongolia
27
November
2017

The Camel Festival in Mongolia

Your Must-See Experience

The Thousand Camel festival takes place annually between the end of winter and beginning of spring in Dalanzadgad. Participating in this spectacular 2-day event is an amazing and unique opportunity to interact with the two-humped Bactrian camels and Mongolian camel herders. Every year the festival gathers more than a thousand camels, and over a thousand participants and spectators. The camels are especially pretty in winter when their fur becomes thick and lavish to stand the cold temperatures.

The Role of the Camel in the Nomadic Lifestyle.

The festival celebrates the endangered two-humped camels (Bactrian) and the role it played, and continues to play, for nomads in the Gobi. These amazing animals carry everything that a Mongolian needs to build and live in a ger (also known as a yurt). Camels are much tougher than horses and can cover 50 miles in one day, and run very quickly.

Nowadays camels have been replaced as a means of transportation by cars, but the popularity of camel racing reflects the admiration still given to them. There are approximately 500,000 Bactrian camels in the world, and 300,000 of them habit in Mongolia.

Mongolians eat camel meat, similarly to goat, and use camel wool for making clothes like jackets and socks, and blankets.

The Festival



Camel riders before the start of races

This exciting and fun event takes place in the Gobi during the time of the year when the desert is covered in snow and temperatures drop below zero. It features traditional music, costume competitions, dancing, polo competition and camel racing. After the festivities, the spectators can ride the camels and visit some of the Gobi’s unique sights.

The festival begins with a camel beauty parade where the big, fluffy animals parade in front of the crowd. They then embark on the race, where the herders drive the camels on a 15km race across the steppe. The average speed of camels is about 12 km per hour, which corresponds to the speed of a galloping horse. Racing camels is the most beautiful and popular competition of all the holidays and events of Mongolia attracting many visitors.

​ Un unlimited expanse of steppe

In addition to the race, another highlight of the event is a Polo match. Two riders sit on each camel; one controls the camel, while the second one hits the ball with a stick.

Other highlights of the festival are traditional performances of Mongolian folklore and a fair of products from camel milk and camel-hair.

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If you would like to experience this unique spectacle at the end of February – beginning of March, please contact our travel specialists and get first-hand advice.

Real Russia Blog

Golden Eagle Festival
21
July
2017

Golden Eagle Festival

Take an opportunity to experience old Kazakh traditions and ways of life, and coincide your trip with the fantastic Golden Eagle Festival.

If you are looking to experience a traditional way of life, with a scenic and diverse landscape, and awe-inspiring wilderness, then a visit to Mongolia will give you a fascinating insight into invigorating eastern culture. Why not take an opportunity to experience old Kazakh traditions and ways of life, and coincide your trip with the fantastic Golden Eagle Festival.


Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Event, the Golden Eagle Festival is annually held in Mongolia during the first weekend in October. The festival was founded in 1999 to preserve the Kazakh's unique heritage, a tradition that has been practiced thousands of years, and to protect golden eagles. The Golden Eagle Festival is one of the best opportunities to catch a glimpse into the area’s unique culture.

Place: Bayan-Ölgii, the highest Mongolian province
Location: the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia
Date: 15 – 16 September 2018, 6-7 October 2018

This province is a home to ethnic Kazakh nomads who train Golden Eagles for hunting. While enjoying breathtaking scenery of the Altai mountains that offers endless opportunities for photography, you can observe an ancient and disappearing art of eagle-hunting.

Mongolian Kazakhs, who honor the tradition of hunting on horseback with Golden Eagles, continue to hunt with trained Golden Eagles today. Once a year, dozens of them, from teenagers to old men, gather in a valley of the Altai Mountains to celebrate the Golden Eagle Festival and to participate in the hunting competition to the view of locals and tourists. The Eagle Hunters compete with each other in catching animals with specially trained eagles, who follow commands of their owners.

What the tourists can’t see, though, it’s the hard work of the eagle domestication that comes before. To tame the eagle, the eaglet is starved of food for days, until it begins to accept food from humans, and then the hunter can start training the eagle. As the bond between the hunter and eagle develops, they head to the mountains, sometimes for days, to hunt their prey – usually foxes, hares or wolves – during the winter months, when it is easier to see the animals against the snow.


Eagle huntsmen compete in the hunting skills, eagles’ agility, speed and accuracy as well as in huntsmen’s clothes: the more extravagant the coat the more respected the hunter is. The hunters are dressed in traditional Kazakh costumes, with fur coats made of marmot, fox or wolf skins which have been caught by their eagles.

The festival includes an opening ceremony, parade, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations and handcrafts taking place in the centre of the town of Ölgii, followed by sporting activities and competitions outside of town towards the mountains. The other activities held during the Golden Eagle Festival include horse racing, archery and Bushkashi, where horse-mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf.

Keeping with the tradition, no women can participate in it. However, in 2014 the 13-year-old Kazakh girl Aisholpan, who was taught to hunt with her eagles by her grandfather, challenged a male-dominated tradition and became the first female to enter and won the competition. It was featured in the documentary ‘The eagle huntress’.

Tourists, coming from all over the world to participate in the Festival, help to keep this ancient tradition alive and thus support the local community, where people still live in harmony with nature, practicing the lifestyle that ancient Kazakhs lived centuries ago.


If we inspired you to visit this spectacular event, contact our travel experts to arrange you visa, tickets and accommodation.

Real Russia Blog

Suzdal Cucumber Festival
12
May
2017

Suzdal Cucumber Festival

A summer festival in a provincial town in the heart of Russia

An ancient peripheral town Suzdal is world-famous for its Kremlin and White Monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The annual Cucumber festival there is a unique opportunity to experience this town, and take part in contests and other amusing activities with locals.

Place: Suzdal, Russia

Location: 220 km (135 miles) North-East of Moscow

Date: 15 July 2017

The Cucumber Festival takes place annually in midsummer, during the harvest of vegetables in one of the most ancient Russian towns, Suzdal. It provides parades, contests and concerts, music and dancing, games and raffles, and, of course, cucumbers prepared in every way possible, making them Suzdal’s delicacies. Have you ever tasted a cucumber jam? The people here use cucumbers in thousands of different dishes, from cucumber soups, to cucumber cakes and rolls, and even cucumber drinks.

The region’s most famous entertainers perform different plays relating to cucumbers. Tourists also can buy cucumber souvenirs made of clay, wood and other materials.

One of the most important events of this festival is the cucumber eating contest, where competitors try to eat as many cucumbers as possible in the set time limit. Judging by the whole atmosphere of the festival, the winner probably receives some cucumbers as the prize.



Festivities. Photo by Andrey Atulkov


Once the Cucumber Festival is over, Suzdal returns to its routine of a provincial town barely modernized since its heyday back in the 11 -13th centuries. Suzdal will introduce to you another Russia; you can witness the rustic lifestyle of a peripheral town that tourists rarely see in the big cities. Suzdal will fascinate you with its white-stone walls, riverside convents and monasteries, as well as typical Russian wooden architecture around the main treasure-trove – Suzdal's Kremlin.

The Suzdal Kremlin, the oldest part of the town of Suzdal

The Kremlin in the town of Suzdal


A wander around Suzdal will give you a glimpse of medieval Russia, with the decorative wooden frames of the houses, magnificent 12th-13th-century buildings and vegetable gardens that feed many local families.​

If we inspired you to step back in time and experience an authentic and tranquil atmosphere of this provincial town, why not to contact our specialists to arrange your trip to Suzdal and find out all your options?

​On the main image: Spaso-Evfimiyev Monastery, photo by Yuree Markevich.