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Russian Holidays, Events, and Festivals

Being the biggest country in the world, it’s no surprise that Russia has plenty to offer when it comes to scenic sites, Russian holidays, and popular festivals and other events, be they national, local, or religious. Going on a vacation trip to Russia, whether by yourself, with friends, or family, can prove to be a complex experience, especially with the language barrier. Fortunately, there are plenty of travel packages and/or tours that will have someone with you at all times and help you either by translating or telling you more about some of the popular places and events in the country.

To get the most out of your future vacation trip to Russia, learn about some of the Russian holidays, traditions, and points of interest. Then you’ll know when and where to go on your Russian holiday.

Your Russian Holiday Guide

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Before you start packing your bags, registering for a hotel, and booking a flight to Russia, there are some things you’ll need to know.

You Need a Visa

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Citizens of most countries will require a Visa before they can enter Russia because it is impossible for you to obtain one once you arrive. As such, it’s a good idea to do it beforehand in order to avoid unwanted problems.

Get a Phrasebook

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If you want to go out into the public by yourself, be sure obtain a phrasebook with common phrases like “Hello,” or “Thank you,” along with many other helpful sentences and words. Just like in any other country, not everyone will be able to speak your language. Language barriers are a thing, and it’s best to come prepared.

Learn about Public Transportation

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Although there’s a high chance that city, town, and station names will have English translations, employees might not speak your language. As a result, they might not be able to help you purchase tickets, use the subway map, and so on. Make sure you figure out how to do all that before you step into the subway (or any other public transportation system) so you don’t get lost.

Dress Appropriately

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Despite the stereotypes that you might have heard about Russia, it’s not always cold over there. Russia can be very hot and humid during the summer, which means that you definitely want to pack light clothes if you plan on visiting the country during the season.

Respect Local Customs

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It’s no secret that each country has certain etiquette rules that must be followed by both citizens and tourists alike. You don’t want to make a bad impression or make yourself look bad. Find out what kind of etiquette rules Russia follows and keep them in mind during your visit. For example, when entering a church or a cathedral in Russia, women must always cover their heads and wear long skirts, while men must wear long trousers and take off any headwear they have on.

Exchange Money in Advance

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To get the best rate, you want to try and exchange your money for Russia’s currency, roubles, in advance. You’ll need cash to pay for taxis and public transportation, since not every vendor or service will be able to accept cards.

These are just some of the essentials that you might want to know about before heading to Russia. As stated earlier, it’s a good idea to do your own research before making any sort of travel plans. Not only will the extra knowledge make your trip a much more pleasant experience, but you will also have a basic, perhaps even comfortable, understanding of the country, its citizens, and many other things that will help along the way.

Popular Places To Visit

It’s very difficult to try and name all the best places to visit in Russia. We will just list some of the most popular places to visit. Whether they have historical significance or serve as common points of interest or tourist spots, these locations are meant to showcase Russia’s history, meaning, and culture.

The Trans-Siberian Railway

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Being the longest railway system in the world at 5,772 miles, the Trans-Siberian railway runs from Russia’s capital, Moscow, all the way to Vladivostok, a city near Russia’s borders with China and North Korea. Constructed between the years of 1891 and 1916, passengers use the railway as overnight accommodation from one destination to the next one. Featuring first-, second-, and third-class sleepers, some with private showers and bathrooms, the trains stop every three or four hours so that passengers can stretch or go out for some dining.

Lake Baikal, Siberia

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During the Trans-Siberian Railway’s path, travelers plan on stopping at Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest lake, at 25 million years old. Holding around 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, Lake Baikal is considered to be one of the clearest lakes in the world. The location is also a home to a number of resorts, thus making it a popular vacation destination for tourists and locals alike.

Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

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Initially founded by Catherine the Great in 1746, the Hermitage Museum houses vast collections of art that highlight over 3 million items from all over the world. All of the collections occupy six historical buildings, including the Winter Palace, which was a former residence of Russian emperors.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

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Easily recognizable by its colorful domes, the Saint Basil’s Cathedral is located in the very heart of Russia: the Red Square. Built between the years 1554 and 1561 during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral’s design and exterior cause tourists to flock to it. Aside from that, the building’s history is surrounded by many tales and legends. For example, one tale states that Ivan the Terrible had the architect behind the cathedral blinded so that he wouldn’t be able to construct a more gorgeous building for anyone else ever again.

The Red Square, Moscow

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Previously a location for public executions, beheadings, and demonstrations, it’s an understatement to say that the Red Square has a history to it. Aside from serving as a location to Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Red Square is home to many other iconic locations, such as the GUM department store, the Kremlin, Lenin’s mausoleum tomb, and more.

Russian Holidays, Events, and Festivals

Russia doesn’t just celebrate the same holidays as the rest of the world. Aside from celebrating different versions of global holidays like Easter, Christmas, and New Year, other Russian holidays include Den’ Goroda (City Day) and Victory Day: one of the most important Russian holidays. As with popular places, it’s very hard to talk about all the Russian holidays. Instead, only some that are unique to Russia will be discussed.

Maslenitsa

 

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This day started out as a pagan sun ritual, but the holiday was later adopted by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Maslenitsa, which is a pre-Lenten carnival that lasts a week, celebrates the departure of winter and the arrival of spring. Cities across Russia celebrate the holiday by cooking up the traditional food associated with the holiday: pancakes. Another part of the holiday revolves around burning a human-sized effigy as a way to welcome back the sun. The festivities are usually accompanied by with feasts, nighttime fireworks, and carnivals.

Den’ Goroda (City Day)

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Primarily celebrated in Moscow, Den’ Goroda, which occurs in September, celebrates the founding of Russia’s capital. Parties, festivals, and free street concerts are held all throughout Moscow, thus attracting thousands upon thousands of citizens to come out and join in on the fun.

Victory Day

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Perhaps the most important holiday of all the Russian holidays, Victory Day celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany during WWII. Celebrated each year on May 9th, the Red Square hosts a military parade that honors WWII veterans and also shows off the country’s military might and technology. Aside from having a military parade, other festive parades are held throughout the country. Traditionally, citizens thank the veterans for their service and give them flowers as a token of appreciation.

Russian Winter Festival

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Even though Russia’s winters are incredibly cold and bitter, that doesn’t stop the citizens from enjoying themselves and hosting various festivities from December to January. Cities celebrate the holiday by kicking off the season with sleigh rides, folk music and dancing, ice skating, crafts, food, and so much more. Other holidays like Christmas (which doesn’t fall on December 25th according to the Russian Orthodox calendar) and New Year fall during the Russian Winter Festival, thus taking all the fun to new heights.

Conclusion

As you consider planning a trip to the former Soviet Union to celebrate Russian holidays, events, and festivals, this handy guide can be used to acquaint yourself with the country, its events, and world-famous locations. Whether you plan on staying in Moscow or riding the Trans-Siberian Railway, your trip will certainly prove to be a one-of-a-kind and memorable adventure full of excitement and fun.