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Dear Traveller,
It’s time to welcome spring!
As winter draws to a close, our newsletter this month turns to thoughts of spring. Much as we love to feel the crunch of snow on the ground and the shimmer that results from a hard frost, it’s time to put the winter behind us and welcome the warmer weather.
As in many parts of the world, it’s a time to mark the change of season with carnival. In Russia, Shrovetide is known as масленица, translating as Maslenitsa or Maskenitsa. Whichever word you use, this celebration takes place the week before Great Lent commences, as it has been for centuries.
The week-long festival is characterised by fairs and parties. Great Lent is a time to focus on your spiritual life and Orthodox Christians eschew lively gatherings in favour of a more introspective period. Maslenitsa, therefore, is the last chance to let your hair down. Likewise, Orthodox Christians have already given up meat, and the penultimate week before Great Lent marks the final opportunity to eat dairy produce before giving it up for 40 days. Not surprisingly, therefore, the week of Maslenitsa is a time to eat blinis topped with cheese, butter or soured cream. That’s why you might find the festival referred to as “Cheese Week” or “Crepe Week”.
Each day of the festivities has a special significance. Thursday is traditionally the most fun, while Friday is a time to spend with the family – it’s known colloquially as “Mother in Law’s Evening” when the husband has his wife’s mother over for a meal. The culmination of Maslenitsa is on the Sunday, this year falling on 26th February, which is referred to as “Forgiveness Sunday”. Straw dolls or scarecrows are burned, symbolising the death of winter.
Each Russian city has its own programme of events, making this a great time to visit the country, particularly Moscow. If it’s a little late for you to be making plans for this year, then put it on the calendar for 2018 and head for the UK capital instead: the Maslenitsa celebrations in London are the largest of their kind outside Russia.
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In case you haven't visited for a while, why not take a fresh look at our travel blog, which features articles and news about Russia: destinations, events, festivals, lifestyle, travel tips, and restaurant and theatre suggestions. Our amazing team of travel writers will keep you up to date with what's important, and don't forget, we'd love to hear from you too so we'll be posting reviews and stories from our customers who have visited Russia recently. Please see the latest stories below:
The world’s enduring love affair with Swan Lake
140 years ago this February, Tchaikovsky’s glorious ballet Swan Lake premiered at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. Based loosely on a Russian folk tale, the story follows a princess named Odette who was cursed and turned into a swan. Tchaikovsky’s score is melodic, hypnotic and over a century later, his music remains ...
The Hermitage celebrates its 165 th birthday!
Whether you’re an art lover or not, there’s no denying that the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg houses one of the most incredible collections of art on the planet. Not only is it one of the largest museums in the world, it’s also one of the oldest. Its origins can be found in the private art collection of Peter ...

Our most popular tours
We’re pleased to announce our most popular tours for 2017 season: city-breaks, Trans-Siberian trips, Russian river cruises, adventure holidays as well as visa-free tours to Russia. Please see below for more details.

Explore Russia Visa-Free by Ferry from Helsinki: St. Petersburg - 4 days (CB-29)
It’s possible to visit Russia without the need for a visa, and this tour is one such holiday. Arriving by ferry from Helsinki, you’ll be able to discover the beautiful city of St Petersburg. You’ll stay in a centrally located hotel at Nevsky...
From £475 4 days
Discover the Beauty of the Russian Venice - St. Petersburg (CB-02)
Once the Imperial capital of Russia and now its cultural hub, the elegant city of St Petersburg is an entrancing city-break destination. Nicknamed the Venice of the North, the city is built on over a hundred islands linked by...
From £595 6 days

Three Capitals: Kiev - Moscow - St. Petersburg (CB-18)
We have designed this amazing tour to introduce you to the past and present capitals of Russia and the Ukraine, the beautiful cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev. It is in Kiev, an ancient city on the bank of the beautiful Dnepr River, that the Russian...
From £1,175 10 days
Great Discovery of Southern Russia: Sochi – Gelendzhik – Krasnodar (CB-33)
Overlooked by many overseas travellers, this comprehensive tour of Southern Russia takes you off the beaten track and into one of the most varied and interesting parts of the country. Whether you’re a beach lover lured by th...
From £1,695 10 days

Cruise - St. Petersburg - Golden Ring - Moscow - 11 Days (CR-01)
With its combination of rich history, a varied cultural programme and breathtaking scenery, this tour is a must for anyone wishing to delve beneath the surface of Russia's most intriguing cities. Beginning in St Petersburg, we'll cruise via the Golden Ring to vibrant Moscow...
From £1,395 11 days
Epic Trans-Mongolian: St. Petersburg - Moscow - Yekaterinburg - Irkutsk - Baikal - Mongolia - Beijing (TS-15)
As the name suggests, this tour following the route of the Trans-Mongolian railway truly is an epic adventure. Beginning in St.Petersburg and finishing in Beijing with stops in Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Lake Baikal, Ulan Bator and Terelj National Park...
From £2,295 19 days


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