Mariinsky Ballet Festival

As the Russian winter slowly turns to spring, St Petersburg’s famous Mariinsky Ballet showcases its extraordinary repertoire of great Russian classics and cutting-edge compositions 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, jaw-dropping sights and world-renowned museums and galleries.

By night, take advantage of among the best seats in the house and delight in glorious evenings of classical ballet and contemporary dance performed by Mariinsky Ballet stars and invited guest artists from major companies around the world.

The Mariinsky Ballet is expected to announce its festival program in early 2020, however we encourage you reserve your place on the tour now.

Dates and performances to be announced in early 2020

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 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 opening of the 2020 Ballet Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre complex, comprising the historic theatre (1860), a modern concert hall (2006) and the Mariinsky II theatre (2013). Dates for the 2020 festival and performance details will be announced in early 2020.


In the morning enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna before 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 was also the location of Rasputin’s murder prior to the Russian Revolution.

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

Attend an evening performance at the 2020 Mariinsky Ballet Festival.


This morning go behind the scenes with a backstage tour of the Mariinsky Theatre or Mikhailovsky Theatre (to be confirmed in late 2019).

Opened in 1860, the Mariinsky 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.

The Mikhailovsky Theatre was founded by decree of Tsar Nicholas I in 1888 and named after Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia. The ballet company of the theatre was founded in the 1930s by Russian choreographer Fyodor Lopukhov.

This evening, attend a performance at the 2020 Mariinsky Ballet Festival.


In the morning enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna before 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.

Attend an evening performance at the 2020 Mariinsky Ballet Festival.


This morning visit 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 and actors.

Dinner tonight will be in a restaurant close to the hotel.


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.


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.

In the late afternoon, 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. At the conclusion of the tour there will be free time to remain in the museum to witness Catherine the Great’s elaborate Peacock Clock, which, fortunately for us, chimes only on Wednesday evenings. Open until late on Wednesdays, enjoy browsing the extensive collection unhindered by the crowds of regular opening hours.(B)

This morning enjoy 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.

Attend an evening performance at the 2020 Mariinsky Ballet Festival.


Enjoy a pre-performance talk by Donna before travelling 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.

Attend an evening performance at the 2020 Mariinsky Ballet Festival.


Enjoy a morning at leisure 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 in the Alexandrinsky Theatre.


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

In the afternoon, enjoy a special farewell lunch with Donna and fellow travellers.

Attend an evening performance at the 2020 Mariinsky Ballet Festival.


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.


Per person, twin-share (approximately)

AUD 10,750

Single supplement* (approximately)

AUD 1,850

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 1,500

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 is located near superb shopping and dining venues. The 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.