Maslyanitsa - Pancake Week
"Maslyanitsa, meaning "butter" in Russian, is a traditional carnival celebrated in the spring just before Lent. During this week, people cook pancakes served with honey, caviar, fresh cream and butter. It means that many different rich foods, including butter, will be eaten before the time when Lent comes. The traditional dish is a big round hot pan-cake, with butter.
The pancakes symbolise the sun. The more butter or honey, caviar and other delicious things, which is put on the pancake, the hotter the sun is expected to be in the coming summer.
Russian pancakes are called bliny. They have a slightly sour taste and the thickness of a few playing cards. The light brown bliny are shaped like small suns, accounting for their central role in this pagan festival celebrating the end of winter, when the returning sun brightens the sky.
Nowadays, Maslyanitsa is celebrated at the end of February, as a merry festival with dances, songs, national costumes, attractions for children, hot tea and pancakes served outdoors"
Spas - Harvest Festivals
"In August, the last month of the summer season, when the harvest is sown, is the time usually spent to celebrate the three holidays called ""Spas"".
The first ""Spas"" is called Honey Spas which is celebrated on August 14.
The second ""Spas"" is called Apple Spas which is celebrated on August 19.
The third one is called Nut Spas which is celebrated on August 29.
Spas brings cold dew to lands and meadows. After the first Spas honey is collected, the second Spas brings fresh fruit and the third one, nuts."
White Nights Festival
The folk holiday called Troitsa is widely celebrated in Russia. On Troitsa the houses are usually decorated with fresh green branches. A maiden's clothes are put on the young birch-trees and songs and dances round the birch-trees take place. The garlands made of birch branches and flowers are put into water for fortune-telling.
The White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia is an annual international cultural event. The White Nights Festival consists of a series of classical ballet, opera and music events and includes performances by Russian dancers, singers, musicians and actors, as well as famous international guest stars. The Scarlet Sails celebration is the culmination of the White Nights season, the largest public event anywhere in Russia with the annual estimated attendance about one million people, most of whom are students from hundreds of schools and colleges, both local and international.
Jewel of Russia Festival
The Jewel of Russia Festival is a newly created annual international celebration of music, opera, literature, and arts. It takes place at the Hermitage Museum, Mariinsky Theatre and Museum of Ethnography in St Petersburg, Russia.
GMT +3 Hours.
"Russia's estimated 150m population, it is thought that over 81% speak the official language of Russian as their first and only language. Most speakers of a minority language are also bilingual speakers of Russian. There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today, the most popular of which is Tartar, spoken by more than 3% of the country's population.
Other minority languages include Ukrainian, Chuvash, Bashir, Mordvin, Circassian and Chechen. Although few of these populations make up even 1% of the Russian population, these languages are prominent in key regional areas."
"Most foreign nationals, including those from the UK, are required to have entry visas to travel to the Russian Federation. Citizens of former CIS Republics, except Georgia and Turkmenistan, may enter Russia with their national passports.
If you are in transit through Russia and do not leave the airport, then you will not need a visa. However, if you are in transit and need to leave the airport"
In general, the best time to visit is May-September, when the day temperatures are in the 70s-90s F/23-35 C, and nights are in the 50s-70s F/10-23 C. Spring and early fall, however, are unpredictable: Snow flurries and temperatures in the mid 20s F/-5 C are possible in May and September. Be sure to take waterproof shoes for spring or fall visits - there's a lot of mud. There are a few reasons someone might want to go during the winter: In Moscow and St. Petersburg, the leaves have fallen and the striking architecture can be seen much more clearly; it's also easier to get tickets to see the Bolshoi and Kirov (Mariinsky) ballets and operas, and there are no crowds at other tourist attractions. Those visiting in winter will want to take along their warmest clothes, boots and hats: It's bitterly cold (Moscow is as far north as southern Alaska) and quite dry.