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Tomatoes are the star of the show at Syzran's festival I © Geoff Penaluna / Flickr
Tomatoes are the star of the show at Syzran's festival I © Geoff Penaluna / Flickr
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8 Festivals During the World Cup in Samara

Picture of Zita Whalley
Updated: 24 October 2017
Samara is going to be all stations go as the World Cup 2018 sweeps this port town in a frenzy of celebrations and festivities. Alongside the sporting competition, the city and wider region are also host to a slew of cultural festivals. Whether in town or on a day trip out of the city, here are the top festivals you need to check out.
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An iconic Samara event, this July music festival is named after local student Valery Grushin who drowned saving children on a failed boat trip along the Uda River. Held at the charming Mastryukovskie Lakes, halfway between Tolyatti and Samara, just around the Samara Bend, the event sees festival goers sit along the banks while music acts perform on a floating stage. Specialising in bard music – epic, poetical musical sagas – some of Russia’s most well known and respected musicians of the genre perform here.

Grushinsky Festival Mastryukovskie Lakes, Russia

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Drums of the World

Taking place in Tolyatti, Drums of the World is a festival about, well, drums of the world. Drummers from across the globe show off regional spins and cultural takes on the rhythmic instrument. Musicians hail from a range of places including Latvia, Senegal, Israel, Lebanon, as well as Russia. Alongside the concert programme there are drumming masterclasses and creative workshops.

Drums of the World, Transportnik Recreation Centre, Fedorovskie Luga, Tolyatti, Russia

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The third weekend of August sees the centre of Syzran, a small city across the Volga of Samara, turn into a hub of tomatoes and a kitsch celebration of the red fruit. Celebrating all things tomato, there are various competitions punters can enter. Festival goers can vie for the titles of Miss Tomato or Mr Tomato, as well as Best Vegetable-Themed Costume, Most Original Scarecrow, or Best Tomato Dish. There is a culinary programme as well as local crafts for sale. The festival’s mascot is Signor Tomato, a large, inflatable tomato.

Syzran Tomato, Syzran, Russia

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One of the healthiest festivals in the nation, the Sober Russia festival has been embracing clean living since 2011 and pulls a crowd on the banks of the Volga for sober fun (it is a thing.) No booze, no alcohol, and obviously no drugs or any other vices are allowed, and each day begins with a workout. From physical activity, the day moves in different directions where participants can choose from activities such as crafts, sports, the arts and lectures. Days end with a concert and dancing, which is brave, considering you can’t blame bad moves on too much to drink.

Sober Russia, Tolyatti, Russia

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Every June, Kamenny Brod, a small village outside of Samara, celebrates the olden days. Punters can watch traditional European performance and dance, as well as medieval sports such as knife and axe throwing. Journey to the Past also embraces long-established arts and crafts such as pottery, woodcarving, basket weaving and metal work. There is a lecture and talks programme where participants can learn about ancient funeral rites and historical points of interest.

Journey to the Past, Kamenny Brod, Russia

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Aimed at a younger audience, award winning festival Plasticine Rain fills Samara’s streets with art and performance in August. Strukovsky Park is the festival’s hub, where clowns, music and circus performers entertain the next generation. The festival also exhibits traditional handicraft as well as hosting a children’s playground, so even the really young can have some fun too.

Plasticine Rain, Strukovsky Park, Samara, Russia

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This event is a folk festival that celebrates the beschev cherry, which grows in the area and only ripens in autumn. Based in the Zhiguli Mountain village of Shiryaevo (attendees catch a ferry across the Volga), this August festival started off as a local event celebrating Alexei Beshchev, the local amateur horticulturalist credited with creating this particular fruit. Nowadays, the festival draws a crowd from outside the Samara region, who arrive to this picturesque village, eager to try dishes made with the famed fruit. Traditional crafts and arts are on display and folk performances run through the festival.

Zhiguliovskaya Vishnya, Shiryaevo, Russia