Winter Holidays in St. Petersburg: Merry Christmas!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! St. Petersburg, the most European of Russian cities, is all set to kick off the holiday season in style.

Warm woolen mittens, packages tied up with string, as well as ballets, concerts and outdoor markets, are just some of the favorite things that make the days around Dec. 24 – 25 merry and bright. Here’re where to get into the holiday spirit without crossing any borders.

Fairs and Handmade Gifts

Holidays are not holidays without the warmth of handmade gifts and the festive mood of Christmas markets.

From woolen mittens to mugs with Norwegian trolls, Avoska Fest Scandinavia that will take place on Dec. 23 – 24 on Ligovsky 50/15, will feature everything we love about the Nordic concept of Hygge, or “coziness”. Sample ginger grog, wrap up in a hand-knitted throw and enjoy a lecture on how to train a reindeer or explore Antarctica.

Truly unique gifts – like a heart made of metal gears and screws or holiday feather wreaths – will be the stars at the New Year’s Fair at Etagi Lofts on Dec 23-24. Felt flower pins or hand-sewn iPad cases? Yes, please!

If you’re thinking more along the lines of traditional European-style markets, you’d like the St. Petersburg Christmas Fair, complete with a theatrical performance, a bustling gift market and even an ice-rink.  It’s open from Dec. 23 till Jan 7 on Pionerskaya Ploschad, right between Zvenigorodskaya and Pushkinskaya metro stations.

Holiday Concerts

St. Petersburg is a perfect place to experience a more classical side of Christmas. How about a Rossini concert at the Hermitage? Symphony and sopranos shine in the beautiful Italian interiors of the world-famous museum on December 22.

Waltz and polkas will be in the air at the Music Hall on Dec. 24 as dancers take to the stage at the “Straus Gala”. A spectacular extravaganza accompanied by a live symphonic orchestra, it’s a perfect holiday treat.

Scene from the Night Before Christmas

“A Night Before Christmas” performance at the Music Hall on Dec. 25 is nothing like you’d expect from the classic poem about St. Nick. Instead, feel the mystery and the excitement of a Ukrainian Christmas night with love, magic and evil spirits in this classic Gogol story.

At Lutheran Church Anne Kirche on Kirochnaya 8 you’ll be able to enjoy traditional holiday favorites performed by a harp duet on Dec. 25 at 7 pm. The Peter and Paul Lutheran Church on Nevsky Prospect will hold an organ concert on Dec. 26 at 8 pm featuring Advent and Christmas music by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The Nutcracker

Considering that the Nutcracker premiered here at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater over a hundred years ago, there’s no better place to experience this holiday jewel than in St. Petersburg. Performances are running all throughout the holiday season and range from classical to modern takes.

Nacho Duato's "Nutcracker" at the Mikhailovsky Theatre

The new version of Nutcracker done by Mikhailovsky Theatre is set in the early 20th century with art nouveau touches. True to the original, a more traditional version of the ballet will play at Dvoretz Kulturi Lensoveta. But for a rare chance to enjoy a spectacular mix of choreography and figure skating, check out Illya Verbukh’s “Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” featuring Russian Olympic champions and stunning scenery that is sure to transport you to a truly magical place.

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