Christmas in St Petersburg evokes images of steaming banyas, frozen canals and chinking glasses of chilled vodka. Only 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, catching sight of the city’s snow-dusted onion domes accompanied by the peal of church bells, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. spend Christmas in St Petersburg.
Celebrating Christmas in St Petersburg feels a little like entering a wintery, parallel universe. Instead of Father Christmas, Father Frost is the festive figurehead. Churches are topped with colourful domes instead of spires. Wintertime revellers go gliding on troika rides instead of one-horse open sleighs. Not to mention the most obvious point: Christmas isn’t even on 25th December.
But apart from taking its Christmas traditions from the Julian calendar, which places Russian Orthodox Christmas Day squarely on 7th January – Christmas in St Petersburg isn’t completely foreign. Russia’s chilly climate means you’re almost guaranteed a shin-deep snowfall. The St Petersburg Christmas markets serve up ice-skating alongside steaming mugs of mulled wine (or glintvein, as it’s called around these parts), and there’s surely no better place in the world to see a performance of The Nutcracker. So while you might be indulging in more Christmas blini than Christmas crackers, Christmas in St Petersburg will otherwise be the white, romantic getaway of your imaginings.