In here we’re about to share 10 fun Festivals In Russia. Most tourists come to Russia for a fleeting taste of its rich traditions and age-old culture. But to truly immerse yourself in the spirit of Russian culture, consider visiting the country during one of the Russian festivals or holidays.
Arrive during the festive season and you’ll experience authentic local customs on full display and the chance to participate in uniquely Russian style celebrations. Here are some of the most colourful, memorable and ridiculously enjoyable Russian festivals for you to plan your next trip around.
01. Orthodox Christmas (Festivals In Russia)
Christmas in Russia, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated on 25 December in the Julian calendar used by the church, which falls on 7 January in the common Gregorian calendar. Christmas is considered a high holiday by the Russian Orthodox Church, one of the 12 Great Feasts, and one of only four of which are preceded by a period of fasting.
Christmas was largely erased from the calendar during much of the 20th century under the Soviet Union’s anti-religious policies, but many of its traditions survived having been transplanted to New Year’s. Although Christmas was re-established as a holiday in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is still eclipsed by New Year’s Day, which remains the major Russian holiday.
02. Winter Festival (Festivals In Russia)
Russian winters are notoriously long and arduous, so the Russians do what they can to make freezing temperatures more fun – by throwing a month-long festival! All Russian cities have winter festivals celebrating local arts and culture, but Moscow’s hands down the biggest and best. Here the festival is a massive annual event that sees the city decked out in thousands of fairy lights, squares turned into ice skating rinks and a huge array of activities around the city.
Jingle your way through Izmailovo Park with a ride in a traditional troika or three-horse sleigh. In Gorky Park, wander through an outdoor exhibition of incredible ice sculptures, and in Revolution Square, browse the handicraft markets, scoff down warm pancakes and bagels with honey, listen to a balalaika concert or watch a winter fashion show.
03. Maslenitsa (Festivals In Russia)
Maslenitsa is an Eastern Slavic religious and folk holiday, which has retained a number of elements of Slavic mythology in its ritual, celebrated during the last week before Great Lent, that is, the eighth week before Eastern Orthodox Pascha.
The date of Maslenitsa changes every year depending on the date of the celebration of Easter. It corresponds to the Western Christian Carnival, except that Orthodox Lent begins on a Monday instead of a Wednesday, and the Orthodox date of Easter can differ greatly from the Western Christian date.
The traditional attributes of the Maslenitsa celebration are the Maslenitsa effigy, sleigh rides, festivities. Russians bake bliny and flatbread, while Belarusians and Ukrainians cook pierogi and syrniki.
04. Reindeer Herders Festival in Yamal (Festivals In Russia)
The Reindeer Herder’s Festival is a one-day holiday, celebrated annually in the main cities and villages in the Yamalo-Nenets region in the Russian Arctic. For the nomadic Nenets people, a festival day is a major event, which offers a chance to meet with friends and compete in contests of physical skill and a variety of other competitions.
It has also become an event in which the Nenets are able to share with the world a fascinating slice of their unique culture, which has remained relatively unchanged throughout the centuries. On this tour not only will you witness the Reindeer Herders’ Festival in Yamal but you will also stay with a Nenet family far from the city, giving you an amazing opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the nomadic way of life and if you are lucky enough, to witness Northern Lights.
05. Moscow Golden Mask Festival (Festivals In Russia)
The Golden Mask is a Russian theatre festival and the National Theatre Award established in 1994 by the Theatre Union of Russia. The award is given to productions in all genres of theatre art: drama, opera, ballet, operetta and musical, and puppet theatre. It presents the most significant performances from all over Russia in Moscow in the spring of each year. The first Golden Mask award was given in 1995 presented by Union of Theatre Workers of the Russian Federation.
06. Forma Festival (Festivals In Russia)
Forma is an independent music and arts festival, known for its diverse programme featuring experimental music, poetry reading events, theatre performances, exhibitions, and workshops. The main goal of the festival is to develop experimental art in Russia. Therefore the festival can be seen as a quintessence of the underground culture and art. Every year Forma comes up with a new festival concept. This year there will be five stages from six curators:
“Main” with sight specific performances and video, “New Music Low/Hi” specialising on contemporary academic music with live acts from experimental representatives of Russian scene, “Success” will reconstruct the atmosphere of underground bars where people can freely express themselves, “Theater” will present collaborations in the field of mime and clown world, “Experimental” will be searching for new mythology through experimental club music and “Performance” will share multimedia pieces researching topics of dreaming. Forma is definitely highly recommended for those who are interested in a new experience and performances. With such an intriguing program it can be hard to decide which stage to go first.
07. Bol Festival (Festivals In Russia)
Bol is the largest underground festival in Russia. It’s pretty new but already much talked about because of a raw feeling of youth and freedom in its vibe. The name itself translates as “pain”. Therefore, one can expect intense content in terms of sound and crowd. The festival will take place at the cultural center ZIL and will bring together more than 70 artists and bands such as he Good, The Bad & The Queen, Sophie, Monetochka, Inturist, Poexxxali, IC3PEAK, Aigel, Utro, some rock collectives from soviet times and many other artists of the local underground.
The building where the event takes place is one of the greatest examples of Soviet constructivism. There will be a lot of teenagers who represent different subcultures if you are interested to see what young people are like in Russia.
08. Nashestvie Festival (Festivals In Russia)
Nashestvie was the largest open-air festival of Russian rock, organized by Nashe Radio station. It was held annually during the first weekend of July (first weekend of August until 2006) in the environs of Moscow, Russia, since 1999 and has been open air since 2000. Nashestvie has changed its venue several times: it was initially held in Ramenskoye, Moscow Oblast, but recently it moved northwest to Tver Oblast. It was held each year since then until 2019 (except in 2007, when an unofficial replacement festval was held instead). Since 2020 Nashestvie is being regularly banned by the Russian authorities.
The festival’s name is a word play in Russian: it literally means “invasion”, but is also derived from the name of Nashe Radio (Our Radio). Media also dubbed it “Russian Woodstock”.
09. Stereoleto Festival (Festivals In Russia)
Stereoleto is a family festival held in Saint Petersburg in a newly opened event space right on the Neva river embankment on the Vasilevsky island – port Sevkabel. From the port you can catch a pretty stunning view of how the Neva flows into the Gulf of Finland. Picturesque place to watch sunsets while listening to energetic live acts. This annual festival is mostly focused on alternative music, indie rock, folk and hip hop.
The crowd at Stereoleto is usually really friendly to be around. Areas of the festival are equipped with the playground zones offering a large variety of activities for children – sports, games and workshops. In addition to music there are many visual arts, design and variable cuisines booths available for all guests of the festival.
10. Usadba Jazz Festival (Festivals In Russia)
This big international open-air jazz festival in Russia takes place at Kolomenskoye estate and combines various styles of funk, soul, hip-hop, rock and blues music. Usadba jazz is a series of events which can be found not only in Moscow but also in Saint Petersburg, Sochi and Dobrograd. The festival has a laid back vibe, so it’s a nice place for those who don’t like disturbing sounds.
The festival is well equipped with food courts, kid areas and other family friendly entertainments. There will be a special programme for kids, so parents can have some fun too. Apart from music the will be a literature stage where anybody could participate in reading their or other people’s poems. This year headliners will be Russian rock band SPLIN, Ivan Dorn and Black Eyed Peas. If you are not that much into loud music Usadba Jazz will definitely make your ears relax.