The Mariinsky Ballet Festival


Every year, as winter turns to spring in St Petersburg, Russia’s famous Mariinsky Ballet showcases its extraordinary repertoire – ranging from the great Russian classics to today’s cutting-edge creations – in what is undoubtedly ballet lovers’ heaven.

The programme for the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival has just been announced! The festival features a wonderful line-up of the great Russian classical full-length ballets – Paquita, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadère, Swan Lake and Don Quixote – along with Balanchine’s Jewels, a Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers and the traditional closing Ballet Gala. This year’s guest company is the Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre from Perm (regarded as one of the top three in Russia). Over at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, The Sleeping Beauty rounds out this kaleidoscope of ballet.

Suggested departure from Australia on Emirates / Qantas flights (via Dubai). Overnight in flight.

Mid-afternoon arrival in St Petersburg and transfer to your hotel located in the heart of the city.

This evening join Martine and fellow ballet lovers for a welcome briefing and dinner.


Enjoy a morning introduction to this magnificent city, first planned by Peter the Great and later embellished by the Tsars as a great European capital. See St Isaac’s Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city, drive along Nevksy Prospekt, lined with palaces, shops and restaurants, and visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, built by Peter the Great in 1703 to defend Russia from Swedish attack. Visit the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II.

After lunch at a local restaurant, this afternoon is at leisure.

This evening attend the opening of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival – a new production by Yuri Smekalov of Minkus’ Paquita.


Following a talk on the Mariinsky Ballet, pay a visit to the main branch of the State Hermitage Museum. Located in the former Winter Palace, the official residence of the Tsars, and the Small and Large Hermitages, the museum houses the vast collection of artworks built up by the Tsars, along with the collections of several former leading aristocratic families.

Following a guided introduction to the magnificent building and the highlights of the collection, the rest of the day is free to continue your own exploration of the museum.

Tonight you have the opportunity to attend an optional concert at the Philharmonia – by the National Symphony Orchestra (USA), conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. Not included in tour cost. Programme and cost to be advised.


This morning, visit the newly opened (2014) wing of the State Hermitage Museum, located in the former Imperial General staff Building which houses the collections of Russian and European decorative art, paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries (including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, Matisse and Picasso), as well as contemporary art.

Afternoon at leisure.

Evening performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival: Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.


Visit the Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood (Resurrection of Christ Church), erected between 1883 and 1907 on the site where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Built in the flamboyant Russian Revival style, both the interior and exterior of the church are richly decorated with colourful mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day.

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to the Russian Museum, housed in the Mikhailovsky Palace, built between 1819 and 1825 for Grand Duke Mikhail, the brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I. Established in 1895 under the decree of the Emperor Nicholas II and opened in 1898, the Russian Museum is today the world’s largest collection of Russian fine arts from the 10th to the 20th centuries. It is also a famous restoration centre and one of Russia’s major cultural, educational and research centres.

Following a guided introduction to the highlights of the collection, the rest of the day is free to continue your own exploration of the museum.

Evening performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival: Minkus’ La Bayadère.


Drive out of St Petersburg to the town of Pushkin, formerly known as ‘Tsar’s Village’ (Tsarkoye Selo), renowned for its remarkable ensemble of palaces and parks. It is particularly famous for its impressive Baroque Catherine Palace.

Pass by the nearby Aleksandrovsky Palace, the favoured home of the last Tsar, Nicholas II (not open to the public). It was from here that the whole Imperial family left in 1917 to travel to Yekaterinburg, where they were brutally murdered by revolutionaries.

After lunch at a traditional Russian restaurant, continue to the nearby neo-classical Pavlovsk Palace. Designed by the Scotsman Charles Cameron, the estate’s magnificent palace sits on a hill overlooking an English-style landscaped park, with a beautiful river running through it.


Following a morning talk, pay a visit to the Fabergé Musuem at the Shuvalov Palace, one of the newest museums in St. Petersburg. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Fabergé eggs along with a galaxy of other items made by Fabergé and his contemporaries.

Afternoon at leisure to wander along bustling Nevsky Prospekt, the ‘Champs des Elysees’ of St Petersburg, or explore the quieter, canal-lined streets to each side.

Evening performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival: A Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers.


This morning go ‘behind the scenes’ with a backstage tour of the Mariinsky Theatre. Opened in 1860, it became the pre-eminent music theatre of late 19th century Russia, where many of the stage masterpieces of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov received their premieres. Through most of the Soviet era, it was known as the Kirov Theatre.

After lunch, visit the lavishly decorated Yusupov Palace, once the primary residence in St. Petersburg of the immensely wealthy Yusupov family. The palace was the site of Rasputin’s murder in 1916.

Evening performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival – Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake performed by the Perm Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre.


Following a morning talk, enjoy a day at leisure to revisit the Hermitage Museum (free entrance on Thursdays).

Tonight, enjoy a performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Nacho Duato, at St Petersburg’s other ballet company, the Mikhailovsky Theatre.


Begin with a visit the cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monatery which, amongst numerous other luminaries, contains the graves of the writer Dostoyevsky and famous composers Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Continue to the Samoilov Family Museum which houses an exhibition dedicated to the characters and history of ballet in St Petersburg including original costume and set designs by Leon Bakst and Alexander Benois, unique photos and posters, costumes and personal belongings of dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Galina Ulanova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, plus items relating to Marius Petipa’s legendary productions, Diaghilev’s seasons and celebrated first nights of the Soviet period.

Evening performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival: Minkus’ Don Quixote.


Journey once again out of St Petersburg to Peterhof, with commanding views over the Gulf of Finland. Inspired by Versailles, this series of palaces and gardens was laid out on the orders of Peter the Great and completed by his daughter, the Empress Elizabeth. Visit the elegant Baroque Grand Palace, the Cottage Palace of Nicholas I and the Lower Park along the shores of the Gulf of Finland.

Evening performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival: Balanchine’s Jewels, with music by Fauré (Emeralds), Stravinsky (Rubies) and Tchaikovsky (Diamonds).


Following a visit to a Russian Orthodox Church for the traditional Sunday morning service, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell lunch.

By tradition the closing performance of the 2017 Mariinsky Ballet Festival will be a Ballet Gala! Details to be announced.


After a morning at leisure, tour arrangements conclude with a transfer to St Petersburg Airport for suggested departure on Emirates / Qantas flights (via Dubai).

Arrival in Australia on the evening of Tuesday 11 April (or the morning of Wed 12 April).


Per person, twin-share

AUD 7,950

Single supplement*

AUD 1,350

Deposit (per person) at time of booking

AUD 1,000

*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.

Final payment due

10 February 2017

Tour code


Fitness level


Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels definitions.

Suggested airline

Emirates / Qantas

Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.


All travellers require a visa for Russia. The visa will be obtained by Renaissance Tours and is included in the tour price.

Tour price includes

  • 12 nights’ accommodation with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Wines with meals
  • A-reserve tickets for 8 performances of the Mariinsky Ballet Festival and one performance at the Mikhailovsky Theatre
  • Sightseeing, including entrance fees as per itinerary, in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
  • Visa for Russia
  • Talks and discussions with your tour leader
  • Transfers on arrival and departure
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers
  • Hotel porterage

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares
  • Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, room service etc.
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport porterage


Your hotel: Astoria Hotel*****

NB. Hotel of a similar standard may be substituted