Mariinsky Ballet Festival

Join Australian ballet expert Donna Cusack to witness St Petersburg’s famous Mariinsky Ballet showcase its extraordinary repertoire of ballet classics in the world’s greatest ballet event.

By day, enjoy a hand-crafted program of sightseeing in and around St Petersburg, taking in opulent palaces and world-renowned museums and galleries. By night, take advantage of among the best seats in the house for glorious evenings of classical ballet.

This year’s event includes performances of some of the most iconic works in the ballet repertoire including Giselle, Swan Lake, La Bayadere and The Sleeping Beauty performed by Mariinsky Ballet stars and invited guest artists from major companies around the world including the Royal Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet.

Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Qatar Airways flights to St Petersburg via Doha. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.

Arrive in the mid-afternoon in St Petersburg on suggested flights and transfer to the hotel (transfer included in the tour price).

This evening, join Donna and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and dinner.


This morning, attend a pre-performance talk by Donna, followed by an orientation tour of this magnificent city, first planned by Peter the Great and later embellished by his imperial successors. See the mounted statue of Peter the Great outside St Isaac’s Cathedral, and from the banks of the Neva River, admire Catherine I’s Winter Palace, which now houses the impressive Hermitage collection.

After lunch, visit the extraordinary Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Built in 1907 on the site of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, it became a museum in 1997, and after 27 years of restoration, the church is now the most iconic sight in St Petersburg. The interior is astoundingly beautiful, awash with intricate and colourful mosaics.

This evening, attend the glittering opening gala of the 19th International Ballet Festival of the Mariinsky Theatre.


This morning enjoy a guided tour of the opulent Yusupov Palace, built in 1776 by French architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe and the primary residence of the Yusupov family. The palace was also the location of Rasputin’s murder prior to the Russian Revolution.

After lunch return to the hotel for the afternoon at leisure.

In the evening, attend a performance of La Bayadère starring principal ballerina of the Mariinsky Ballet Alina Somova.


In the morning enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna, and then go behind the scenes with a backstage tour of the Mariinsky Theatre (to be confirmed).

Opened in 1860, the Mariinsky Theatre 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. Today it comprises also a modern concert hall and another theatre, opened in 2013.

After time at leisure for lunch, enjoy a visit to the captivating Fabergé Museum. Housing not only one of the finest collections of Fabergé eggs in Russia, the museum also houses other works produced by the jewellers of Peter Carl Fabergé.

This evening, attend a performance entitled ‘An Evening with Vladimir Shklyarov’, award-winning principal dancer of the Mariinsky Ballet, including performances from the ballet The Young Lady and the Hooligan as well as Balanchine’s Diamonds.

This morning enjoy a guided tour of the State 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 decree of the Emperor Nicholas II and opened in 1898, the State Russian Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Russian fine arts from the 10th to the 20th centuries.

After lunch return to the hotel for some time at leisure.

This evening, attend a performance of the ballet-féerie The Sleeping Beauty, starring principal ballerina of The Royal Ballet Lauren Cuthbertson.


Enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna before visiting 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.

Then, continue to Alexander Nevsky Lavra Cemetery for a guided tour. The cemetery is the final resting place of many notable Russian composers, authors, choreographers and dancers.

This evening, attend a performance of the classical favourite Swan Lake, starring Étoile of the Paris Opera Ballet Germain Louvet, and principal ballerina of the Mariinsky Ballet Oxana Skorik.


This morning visit the striking red-and-white 18th-century Chesme Church, one of the earliest neo-Gothic constructions in St Petersburg. Catherine the Great ordered its construction in 1780, and out of the thousands of Orthodox churches in Russia, it is the one that really stands out because of its unique appearance.

Next, travel to the town of Pushkin, formerly known as ‘Tsar’s Village’ (Tsarskoye Selo), renowned for its remarkable ensemble of palaces and parks. It is particularly famous for its impressive Baroque-style Catherine Palace, where the empress lived and died.

After lunch in a nearby restaurant, continue to Pavlovsk Palace, where Catherine’s son Grand Duke Paul celebrated the arrival of son Alexander, who would later become Tsar of Russia.

This evening is at leisure.


In the morning enjoy a visit of St Isaac’s Cathedral. Dominating the skyline of St Petersburg, the church was dedicated to St Isaac of Dalmatia, the patron saint of Peter the Great. The cathedral was turned into a museum in 1931 by the Soviets and has remained a museum since. The interior architecture features pink granite and malachite cut from the Ural Mountains, which form the border between Europe and Asia across Russia.

After lunch, enjoy a visit of the main branch of the State Hermitage Museum with a private guided tour. The museum is housed in the Winter Palace, the former principal residence of the Romanov Tsars. After the tour there will be the option to continue exploring the museum at your leisure.

This evening, you may wish to attend an optional performance of the ballet Spartacus at the Mikhailovsky Theatre (pending availability; not included in tour price, additional cost applies).


This morning enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna before a private guided tour of the intriguing Museum of Theatrical and Musical Art. The collection contains set designs, costumes, playbills and other items connected with some of the most famous names in Russian ballet and drama, including Anna Pavlova and Rudolf Nuereyev.

In the afternoon enjoy lunch at the Eliseyev Emporium, a famous entertainment complex and food hall. Built in 1902-1903, it is one of the most striking examples of Russian Art Nouveau architecture. Enjoy a specialty coffee or sample a macaroon from one of the store’s many colourful displays.

This evening, attend a performance of Giselle, with principal ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet Olga Smirnova starring in the title role.


This morning, travel outside the city to the magnificent palace of Peter the Great at Peterhof. Built directly in response to the construction of Versailles by Louis XIV, the palace contains many outbuildings and smaller palaces as well as sprawling gardens of many different styles.

Return to St Petersburg in the early afternoon for some time at leisure.

This evening, attend a performance of Nijinsky’s two one-act ballets Scheherazade and Le Sacre du printemps


This morning, enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna before a morning at leisure.

Later today, enjoy a special farewell lunch with Donna and fellow travellers, before taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the Alexandrinsky Theatre. Built for the Imperial Troupe of St Petersburg, the theatre was named after the empress consort of Tsar Nicholas I, Alexandra Feodorovna. Today the theatre is known mostly for dramatic performances but does play host to ballet classics performed by various companies in St Petersburg and from around the world.

This evening, attend a performance of Anna Karenina, based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy that premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in 2010.


Tour arrangements conclude with a transfer to St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any extra nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.


Please note the Mariinsky Ballet Festival is yet to announce a performance on 21 March and the final gala performance on 22 March. For those who wish to attend either or both of these, Renaissance Tours can extend your stay on an optional basis at an additional cost and pending availability. Please enquire at time of booking.

Per person, twin-share

AUD 12,750

Single supplement*

AUD 1,700

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 1,500

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

Final payment due

17 January 2020

Tour code


Fitness level

Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.

Suggested airline

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


Australian and New Zealand passport holders require a visa for Russia. The visa will be obtained by Renaissance Tours and is included in the tour price.

Tour price includes

  • Premium category tickets to all included performances as per itinerary
  • Accommodation in a centrally located 5-star deluxe hotel with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wines
  • Pre-performance talks with your tour leader, ballet expert Donna Cusack
  • Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
  • Airport/hotel transfers on tour arrival and departure
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers
  • Hotel porterage (one piece per person)

Tour price does not include

  • Airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
  • Airport porterage
  • Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service, etc.
  • Travel insurance (Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)


Your hotel
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe *****
Enchanting Russia’s high society for more than a century, the luxurious 5-star Belmond Grand Hotel Europe is located on the historic Nevsky Prospekt, the Champs Elysees of St Petersburg.  Boasting a superior location in the heart of the city, the hotel’s spacious deluxe guest rooms are decorated in traditional style, plush fabrics and original artworks. The hotel features a day spa, as well as a restaurant serving some of the city’s finest cuisine.

N.B. A hotel of a similar standard may be substituted.